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Long Pants (as part of “Harry Langdon…the forgotten clown”) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 23, 2010 by  



A fun, dark and crazy comedy collaboration between filmmaker Frank Capra and Harry Langdon!  “Long Pants” is one of the three films included in “Harry Langdon…the forgotten clown”.  All three films are considered as Langdon’s best and this DVD is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1927 First National Pictures, Inc.  renewed. 1955 Warner Brothers, Inc. Music.  2000 Kino International Corp. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Long Pants (as part of “Harry Langdon…the forgotten clown”)

YEAR OF FILM: 1927

DURATION: 58 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color Tinted

RATED: Not Rated

COMPANY: Milestone Film & Video/Image Entertainment

Released Dated: 1999

Directed by Frank Capra

Adaptation by Robert Eddy

Written by Tay Garnett

Story by Arthur Ripley

Executive Producer: Harry Langdon

Cinematography: Glenn Kershner, Elgin Lessley

Edited by Harry Langdon

Music by Donald Sosin

Starring:

Harry Langdon as Harry Shelby

Gladys Brockwell as his Mother

Alan Rosce as his Father

Priscilla Bonner as his Bride

Alma Bennett as his Downfall

Bety Francisco as his Finish

The era of slapstick comedy produced a legacy of imaginative and inventive films, though none, however, are quite as peculiar as Long Pants, Frank Capra and Harry Langdon’s fable of a growing boy’s clumsy entry into adulthood. An awkward manchild of stunted maturity unlike any character since — with the possible exception of Pee-Wee Herman — Langdon’s protagonists repeatedly dramatize the hilarious collision of boyhood innocence with the accelerated pace and perilous temptations of the Modern Age.

When a sheepish young man yearning for romance is given his first pair of grown-up trousers, he springs into adulthood and is immediately smitten by the wrong woman, a hard-boiled drug-smuggler (Alma Bennett). When the “snow” queen is jailed, Harry abandons his more sincere small-town sweetheart — after a feeble attempt to murder her — and comes to the brazen woman’s rescue. Thus ensues one of filmdom’s most side-splitting flights from justice, as Harry ushers his fugitive moll (who is nailed inside an enormous wooden crate) through a series of riotous scrapes with the police, an alligator, and a bevy of pitfalls thrown in the path of the idealist by the fast-paced modern world.

Frank Capra and Harry Langdon, the filmmaker and the star who would have an impressive collaboration with films such as “The Strong Man” and “Long Pants”.    But unfortunately, their collaboration never lasted all that long and both parted ways, Capra became a multi-award winning filmmaker and Langdon has been called “the forgotten clown”.

Where Charley Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd are known for their comedic films, many believe that Harry Langdon should be mention in the same breath as the big three silent film comedy stars.

The discussion of where Harry Langdon should be revered or whether his career was anything without Frank Capra will always be debated but the truth is that there are many films of Harry Langdon that people have not seen and within the last decade, there have been a few DVD’s showcasing Langdon’s films.

In 2000, Kino Video has released three of Langdon’s popular silent comedy films  “The Strong Man”, “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp” and “Long Pants” on one DVD titled “Harry Langdon…the forgotten clown”.

In the 1927 film “Long Pants” directed by Frank Capra (their second and last collaboration), Harry Langdon shows off his vaudeville and knack for physical comedy as the character Harry Shelby.

Harry is a young man who has been kept on knee pants by his strict mother.  His mother sees it as a way to keep him out of trouble but for Harry, all he does is stay home, read books and one days dreams of dating and being with a woman.

On his birthday, his father feels its time that Harry wears pants and sure enough, Harry is happy.

Now he can go out and have some fun and when he goes out of the house, he sees a car that just had flat.  The car belongs to a beautiful thief named Bebe Blair (played by Alma Bennett).  Bebe’s boyfriend and partner in crime is away and Bebe misses him.  She receives a letter that he will one day marry her and she is so happy.

Meanwhile, Harry sees the beautiful woman and falls for her immediately.  He tries to impress her by riding his bike and doing tricks around her.  And the flirtatious Bebe decides to kiss him a few times.  Immediately, Bebe feels that he is in love, but when his mother starts yelling for him, Harry must leave her.

When Harry goes back to the location, he finds the letter from Bebe’s boyfriend written to her, but the gullible Harry thinks that the letter is written to him by Bebe and now Harry thinks he will be getting married and tells his parents about it.

But his parents think that Harry means that he is going to marry his good friend Priscilla (played by Priscilla Bonner) and now his parents are happy.

Fast forward and its the day of Harry’s wedding with Priscilla.  Harry’s a bit bummed that his beloved Bebe has never showed up and that he maybe marrying a woman that he’s not in love with.  But things change rather quickly when Harry’s father brings in newspaper which shows Bebe having been locked up and that Bebe claims innocence.  And now, Harry wants to save Bebe and find a way to help her escape from jail.

VIDEO:

“Long Pants” is presented in 1:33:1 and color-tinted.  For a film that is 83-years-old, I’m quite surprised of how clean the print is (compared to many films that I have seen of this age which exhibit major blurring or nitrate warping).  The film does of course has its share of dust and scratches and has a few missing frames but for the most part, “Long Pants” looks very good for its age.

AUDIO & INTERTITLES:

“Long Pants” features music by well-known silent film pianist Donald Sosin.   There are a few intertitles throughout the film but the storyline is self-explanatory.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features included in the “Harry Langdon…the forgotten clown” DVD.

Recently, I started to have interest in Harry Langdon.  There are so many things I have read in support or against this comedian but I figured that I have watched a good number of silent comedians especially films featuring Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd, why not give a chance to Langdon, Chase and Griffith.

So, the first film that I watched starring Langdon was “Long Pants” and for me, it was a pretty cool experience to catch a Langdon film but also a film that would feature an early work of filmmaker Frank Capra (“Long Pants” was his third film).

“Long Pants” is a film that no doubt shows the comedic genius of Langdon and in some ways, he is able to show viewers his physical comedy but unlike Chaplin, you kind of have to laugh because Langdon as many viewers have called his facial features as cherubic or a baby-face.  Definitely a feature that stands out compared to other silent comedy greats and I can see why some people have called Harry Langdon an early predecessor of Pee-wee Herman.

“Long Pants” is an interesting film as we see the comedian trying to flirt and winover the beautiful Bebe Blair.  But as much as this is a silent comedy, it is also a dark comedy.  As Harry is to marry his friend Priscilla, on his wedding day, he is thinking of a variety of ways to kill her.  He even goes out and tries to take her out to the woods and is coming up with ways to shoot at her.  Granted, these scenes are more of Langdon showing off his physical comedy which was well-done and also hilarious to watch, but yet, I have to admit that I had a hard time rooting for Harry as Priscilla is a loving and kind girlfriend.

Granted, like most silent films featuring a guy seduced by a vamp, Harry does a good job of playing the man who will do what he can for his new love and that is by helping her escape.   Also, the film features good performances by actress Gladys Brockwell (who plays Harry’s mother) and also Alma Bennett who plays Bebe Blair.

“Long Pants” is a very enjoyable silent comedy and for the most part, a wonderful collaboration between Frank Capra and Harry Langdon.  I did feel there was one scene that was incredibly long and should have been shortened.  In this scene, Harry thinks that a cop is sitting on a crate (where Bebe is hiding inside of) but instead of several minutes of physical comedy, this scene goes on for nearly ten minutes.  This is probably the only scene where I felt a bit nitpicky that the physical comedy could have been shortened but I assume that the goal was trying to get this film near 60 minutes and thus they had to draw out this scene longer than it should have been.

But overall, “Long Pants” was an entertaining silent comedy and I look forward to watching the remaining two films “The Strong Man” and “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp” on this DVD.

NOTE: The rating below is for the film and not the complete DVD.






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