Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

If I were having coffee with you this weekend, I would tell you that I had a great weekend working. Well, sort of great. I did hear this horrible information about how cold heartedly my coworker whose mother died has been treated. Yet, because I worked with good teammates the time flew by and everyone pulled together that made things fun.

I had a good birthday with dinner at my aunt and uncle’s new condo that overlooks a small lake. They moved from the home they’ve lived in probably since the 70s, but the stairs were too much for my aunt. We had a great night with lots of laughs.

I started reading a mystery called The Beautiful Blue Death. Set in Victorian London, it reminds me a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories.

I started a gofundme campaign to help defray the costs of my doctor’s visit given that my employer’s error got me kicked off my insurance.

Next Monday is my last day at this library. I’d go back if there was a new Director. This woman is pernicious and inefficient. It’s hard to believe she was ever hired or that she’s kept her job.

I began watching Buster Keaton in Saphead, a sweet comedy with less slapstick than I expected.

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The Kid Brother

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I’ve added a new film to my collection of absolute favorites. It’s The Kid Brother (1927) by Harold Lloyd, which Criterion collection has just released on a 2-DVD set with plenty of extras like expert commentary and interviews of Lloyd and Lloyd’s granddaughter.

Poor Harold Hickory. His big brothers, and they are big, outshine him at home. His father the sheriff views Harold as too young and weak to participate in town meetings or fight for good when the community needs strong men. Harold reveres his father and these slights hit him hard. No one sees how ingenious, loyal and hard working young Harold is.

When a group of charlatans arrive in town, the same day as Harold’s dad is entrusted with the town’s money to pay for a new dam (so quite a sum), Harold gets duped into letting them put on a medicine show. Dad never would sign off on such a deal, but the Kid Brother was fooled. Harold soon realizes his error and what a disaster it will be.

Catastrophes come one after another and the gags are inspired. I laughed out loud and was amazed at the film’s charm. In one minute, you get more humor than in 5 minutes in any other comedy.

Not only is the film placed with comedy, there’s also romance. Jobyna Ralson, who starred in The Freshman, appears as an orphan girl, who’s linked to the medicine show conmen and she soon captures the hearts of Harold and his brothers. Their meeting and relationship is sure to make you smile.

The Kid Brother qualifies as a must-see film for all ages. I enjoyed watching with the commentary on to get all the background on Lloyd and the making of this four star classic. This is an amazing mood-lifter.

This week’s film lesson

I’m learning so much from Tony Zhou’s short videos on film. This one on Buster Keaton prompted me to get a Keaton DVD from the library. In this “Every Frame a Picture” video, Zhou’s included snippets from Studs Terkel’s interview with Keaton, which you can listen to in its entirety here on Media Burn.

Keaton’s voice just doesn’t comport with what I’d imagine.

Mr Selfridge Background: Mack Sennett

Tonight’s episode features a visit from American film producer, Mack Sennett. He would have been 34 in 1914, pretty young to be running a studio. Here’s a short biography from

Real name, Mikall Sinnott; born, January 17, 1880, in Richmond, Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada; immigrated to United States, 1897; died November 5, 1960, in Woodland Hills, CA; son of Irish immigrants. Career: Actor, director, producer, and writer. Worked as a laborer at American Iron Works; acted in Biograph films, 1908-11; founded Keystone Studios, 1912; formed Triangle Films (with Thomas Ince and D.W. Griffith), 1915; founded Mack Sennett Comedies, 1917; directed stars such as Mary Pickford, Mabel Normand, “Fatty” Arbuckle, Chester Conklin, Slim Summervile, Minta Duffe, Charles Chaplin, Bobby Vernon, Gloria Swanson, and Harry Langdon. Awards, Honors: Academy Award, best short subjects, novelty, 1933, for Wrestling Swordfish; Academy Award nomination, best short subjects, comedy, 1933, for The Loud Mouth; Honorary Academy Award, 1937, for a lasting contribution to the comedy technique of the screen.

Reference
“Mack Sennett.” Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. Vol. 25. Detroit: Gale, 2000. Biography in Context. Web. 10 May 2014.

Mabel Normand Films

Earlier I posted some background information on Mabel Normand who’s in the next episode of Mr Selfridge. Here are a couple of her short silent films. These two are both from 1912 so the real Selfridge folks might have seen them.

Mabel Normand

Mabel Normand hat
Tomorrow’s Mr. Selfridge will feature a visit from silent film star Mabel Normand. She eventually directed her own films and opened her own film studio. Here’s more from The Encyclopedia of World Biography:

Actress and comedienne Mabel Normand’s most important role involved her contribution to the development of film comedy. Those who came after, such as Lucille Ball, owe her a large debt.

Normand proved far ahead of her time. She was an independent, successful woman in a male-dominated industry, and she exercised a great deal of control over her own career. She also developed gags, wrote scripts, and even directed some early silent films. But this comedy star’s life was filled with tragedy. She became enmeshed in scandal, indulged far too much than was good for her fragile health, and she died young.

Normand was one of the film world’s first celebrities. She had a rebellious nature, and this non-conformity made her a “star” before that term came into common use. Like modern celebrities, her involvement in career-destroying scandals unfairly amounted to little more than guilt by association.

Born in New York City

The screen’s first true female comedy star was born as Mabel Ethelried Normand on November 11, 1892, in Staten Island in New York City, New York. She was the youngest of four children born to Claude G. Normand and Mary Drury Normand. Her parents were French Canadians, and Claude Normand struggled to make a living to support his family. He worked as a carpenter but also played piano in clubs, small theaters, and movie houses.

As a young teenager, Normand toiled as a factory garment worker. In 1909, the seventeen-year-old Normand found work as a model. Painters and illustrators were attracted to her dark curled hair that framed her round face and large, expressive eyes. At the time, such attributes epitomized the current conception of beauty. Famous artists she posed for included Charles Dana Gibson, who created the “Gibson girl look,” and James Montgomery Flagg, the man who created the famous Uncle Sam “I Want You” military recruiting posters.

Moved from Modeling to Films

Normand was friends with Alice Joyce, a fellow model whose beauty led her into film work. Normand followed her into the burgeoning industry and worked as an extra in films produced by the Kalem Film Company, an early East Coast-based movie production studio. Soon, she made the acquaintance of Frank Lanning, an actor who worked at Biograph Studios. Lanning convinced her to change studios, which proved to be good advice, as Biograph boasted the talents of D.W. Griffith, the pioneering film director who would later produce the movie industry’s first feature films, (The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance). As such, the company attracted the best of the early film industry’s talent.

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