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