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Larry Semon, Vol. 1 [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

The Sawmill
Comedians Larry Semon and Oliver Hardy battle over Kathleen O'Connor, the belle of the logging camp, in this 2-reel farce co-directed by Semon and Norman Taurog. The always extravagant Semon went too far making this film on location at Sequoia National Forest, where he made the Vitagraph Company build a permanent logging camp. According to the company's owner, Albert J. Smith, the film could just as easily have been produced at the studio back lot in Los Angeles. As a result, Semon's new contract made him his own producer and he was henceforth obliged to pay the cast, crew, and various other production expenses out of his own pocket. Years before he found world wide fame opposite Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy honed his comedic skills playing a menace opposite the white-faced Semon. They worked well together and remained personal friends until Semon's early death from pneumonia in 1928. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Kid Speed
White-faced comedian Larry Semon produced, co-directed, and starred in this two-reel farce, filmed at breakneck speed at the Charles Ray studios and the Santa Monica Auto Race Course. Avery DuPays (Frank "Fatty" Alexander), the city's wealthiest man, has promised his daughter Lou's hand in marriage to whomever wins the Big Auto Race. Both Dangerous Dan McGrew (Oliver Hardy) and The Speed Kid (Semon) love Lou (Dorothy Dwan), but she seems to prefer the latter. Avery, of course, favors the richer McGrew, who, unbeknownst to the Kid and his mechanic (Spencer Bell), removes the brakes from Larry's race car. Despite this handicap -- or perhaps because of it -- the Kid wins both the race and the girl. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Bell Hop
Perhaps the most readily available of Larry Semon's two-reel comedies, this mad farce deals with a gang of foreign spies attempting to steal an important government document at a resort hotel. The white-faced Semon is the hotel's lazy bellhop, with Oliver Hardy (a Semon stock company player at the time) cast as a dapper-looking, mustachioed desk clerk. In typical Semon style, the gags gets increasingly elaborate and The Bell Hop's extravagant budget would ultimately lead to the comedian's exit from the Vitagraph Company. Norma Nichols played the heroine, a Secret Service agent masquerading as a hotel maid, and Bill Hauber performed Semon's more life-threatening stunts. Semon's co-director on this and most of this other 2-reel comedies was future MGM stalwart Norman Taurog. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Cast & Crew

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