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Archive for the ‘Harry Langdon: ACTING GOD’ Category

Harry Langdon: The Forgotten Clown

28 Jan

Harry Langdon: The Forgotten Clown —  directed by Frank Captra and Harry Edwards. Three broad comedies: Tramp, Tramp, Tramp; The Strong Man; Long Pants.   193 minutes blck and white 1922 and later.

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Harry Langdon was tapioca pudding buttoned up in a tight little jacket. Wry bee-stung lips, white makeup, wide-spaced eyes beady and alert as a chipmunk. He was a child-size man with a child’s responsiveness to life, a responsiveness physically and emotionally more subtle than Chaplin’s. The entire body is always engaged differently, unlike Chaplin’s which as the little tramp was broadly kinetic and always the same. Tiny men both of them, Langdon seems smaller, a pipsqueak, and like Chaplin and Keaton, heroic. I find him very very funny. And always surprising. See him in this Strong Man picture defend his honor from a female rapist! See his scene in the bus with a cold. See the little bows he takes as the strong man at the end.  Watch his eyes. Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the second feature puts him in a crosscountry walking race. See the cyclone scene!  See the cliff hanger scene!  See the scene in the bassinet!  I fell off my chair laughing. Watch his contortions when he first lays eye on his dream girl, the ever-gauche Joan Crawford (age 23). The picture is set up in long sequences, and they’re wonderful, and only in pictures and only in silent pictures would they work. The third piece, Long Pants, I found less amusing, but still… See him, he’s a find: the Pierrot of silent film, The Great White Clown. A master.

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