Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Poodles!

Kit Parker Film's Weiss-O-Rama has to be about the most Third Banana-y DVD set I've ever purchased; a collection of late-era silent comedy shorts from the low-budget Weiss Brothers' studio starring Ben Turpin (his last series), Snub Pollard (likewise), Jimmy Aubrey, Bud Duncan, circus clown Poodles Hanneford, and others. Three of the Hairbreadth Harry shorts are also included, letter-perfect adaptations of C. W. Kahles' wonderful comic strip, although, sadly, little is made on the DVD of the series' funny page origins. Of particular interest to me are Poodles Hanneford's comedies. Poodles was primarily famous for his uncanny equestrian act and holds a Guinness record to this day for for performing a running leap onto a galloping horse, and then stepping off, twenty-six times in quick succession. Each of the DVD's three Hanneford shorts include at least a few of Poodles' circus routines, most notably Circus Daze (1928) which features much of his equestrian act, albeit modestly (and unnecessarily) tricked-up. The severely disjointed Fare Enough (1928) stars Poodles in a much more traditional vein as an inventive Keatonesque underdog (and is that an uncredited Arthur Housman as one of the drunks?). While not possessing any great depth of character as a film comic, he's certainly engaging and, frankly, a more impressive and promising all-round talent than more famous names like Ben Turpin and Snub Pollard!

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