The Essentials by matthew c. hoffman

For those who wish our film series could go another three months, I have listed additional movies you should see. All of the following are available on dvd. Though Legends of Laughter ends on June 2, 2011, I hope you will continue to seek out the work of Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton. I have also listed my reading sources. These are the best books on the subject.

Charlie Chaplin:

Chaplin’s Mutual Comedies (1916-1917)

The Kid (1921)

The Great Dictator (1940)

Limelight (1952)

The Chaplin Revue (1959)

Harold Lloyd:

Grandma’s Boy (1922)

Why Worry? (1923)

Girl Shy (1924)

For Heaven’s Sake (1926)

The Cat’s Paw (1934)

Buster Keaton:

Buster Keaton’s nineteen independent silent shorts (1920-1923)

Our Hospitality (1923)

Go West (1925)

College (1927)

The Railrodder (1964)

Recommended reading:


The Silent Clowns, Walter Kerr (1975)

Chaplin: His Life and Art, David Robinson (1985)

Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema, Jeffrey Vance (2003)

The Search For Charlie Chaplin, Kevin Brownlow (2010)

An American Comedy, Harold Lloyd with Wesley W. Stout (1928)

Harold Lloyd: The King of Daredevil Comedy,  Adam Reilly (1977)

Harold Lloyd: Master Comedian, Jeffrey Vance & Suzanne Lloyd (2002)

Harold Lloyd: Magic in a Pair of Horn-Rimmed Glasses, Annette D’Agostino Lloyd (2009)

Keaton, Rudi Blesh (1966)

Silent Echoes, John Bengtson (1999)

Buster Keaton Remembered, Eleanor Keaton & Jeffrey Vance (2001)

The Fall of Buster Keaton, James L. Neibaur (2010)

Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture, Peter Kobel (2007)


Additionally, look for James Agee’s 1949 Life magazine article, “Comedy’s Greatest Era.” This essay is a terrific work of film criticism and should be read by anyone interested in silent comedy.


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