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The history of screen comedy did not begin with Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. Prior to their appearances on the American screen, an entire generation of comedians was already establishing (and breaking) the boundaries of this rapidly evolving genre. While working at the Vitagraph Studios, music hall artists such as John Bunny, Frank Roberts, and Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew retooled their brands of comedy into something uniquely cinematic, advancing the art form and setting the stage for the slapstick explosion.
This three-disc collection, presented by the Library of Congress, showcases the bold innovation of these overlooked pioneers, including the ingenious trick film The Disintegrated Convict, the gender-bending irrereverence of Edith Storey, and the epic scale of Larry Semon's The Sawmill. Vitagraph Comedies also provides precious glimpses of comedians (e.g. Flora Finch or the comedy duo Montgomery and Rock) who are virtually forgotten today, because so little of their work has survived.
- Interviews with curator Rob Stone, archivists Lynanne Schweighofer and George Willeman, and film historian Rob Farr
- Audio commentaries by film historian Anthony Slide
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