Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Columbia Comedy Shorts

The Columbia Studios Comedy Dept. will always be remembered for the incredible track record of the Three Stooges. From 1934-58, 190 shorts were produced.

However, many other fine comedians and series were produced at Columbia during those years. We will be singling out some of the standouts in future posts. Some of the talented comics who also had long-running series included Andy Clyde, Harry Langdon, Buster Keaton and Charley Chase. Other comics with series were Hugh Herbert, Vera Vague, Shemp Howard and Schilling and Lane (a very under-rated team).

Like the Stooges all of these series had the luxury of using the great Columbia "stock" players, including Vernon Dent, Bud Jamison, Emil Sitka, Christine McIntyre, Stanley Blystone, Jean Willes, Ted Lorch, Dick Curtis and many other veterans of vaudeville and silent comedy. There were also the great directors--Del Lord, Jules White (who produced all the comedies), Ed Bernds and Charley Chase to name a few. Writers such as Clyde Bruckman, Felix Adler and Ellwood Ullman were also key to the success of these comedies.

Other than Buster Keaton and the Stooges, I can't think of any DVD reissues out there. I was able to get a handful of the shorts on VHS years ago through a private collector. They are well worth seeking out and in future posts we'll cover some of the stand-out entries. I highly recommend "The Columbia Comedy Shorts" by Ted Okuda and Ed Watz (McFarland Press), a wonderful guide to the series with complete bios., filmographies and background on all the shorts.

Till next time--Keep Laughing.

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