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Kino's 'Slapstick Encyclopedia' Now Cheap Enough for a Tramp

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood October 5, 2012 at 1:42PM

Silent cinema diehards, take note: Kino's DVD box set "The Slapstick Encyclopedia Videobook" was made available September 25 on Amazon for the frankly unbelievable price of $11.68. Any buyers of the company's previous VHS and DVD iterations of the high-quality, impressively-programmed collection know this is jaw-dropping.
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Charlie Chaplin

Silent cinema diehards, take note: Kino's DVD box set "The Slapstick Encyclopedia Videobook" was made available September 25 on Amazon for the frankly unbelievable price of $11.68. Any buyers of the company's previous VHS and DVD iterations of the high-quality, impressively-programmed collection know this is jaw-dropping. Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and other early pratfallers, cane-twirlers and funny stuntmen are all part of the 18-hour collection.

The collection is curated by film historians David Shephard and Joe Adamson, spanning 1909 to 1927. It carefully traces the beginning of the Hollywood slapstick phenomenon from its founder, Keystone Cops-creator Mack Sennett, to iconic stars such as Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle, names better-known by contemporary audiences and, interestingly, who ultimately felt alienated by Sennett's control-hold at Keystone.

More than 50 silent short films are included, with transfer quality ranging from good to pristine, and new musical soundtracks added. Comedians highlighted are Laurel & Hardy, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Keaton, Sennett, Chaplin, Lloyd, Harry Langdon, Will Roger and Ben Turpin. The set is grouped historically and thematically into 10 discs:

  • In the Beginning: Film Comedy Pioneers

  • Keystone Tonight!: Mack Sennett Comedies

  • Sennett in the Twenties

  • Funny Girls: Genders and Their Benders

  • Keaton, Arbuckle and St. John

  • Hal Roach's All-Star Comedians

  • Hal Roach: The Lot of Fun

  • Chaplin and the Music Hall Tradition

  • The Race Is On

  • Tons of Fun: The Anarchic Fringe

This article is related to: Classics, News, DVDs


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.