Ep. 14: Pordenone • Henry "Pathe" Lehrman • Early Marx Bros.

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Mike Gebert

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Ep. 14: Pordenone • Henry "Pathe" Lehrman • Early Marx Bros.

PostFri Nov 03, 2017 8:11 am

NitrateVille Radio Episode 14: Pordenone 2017 • Comedy Pioneer Henry "Pathe" Lehrman • Before They Were Marx Brothers

Two impressive new books about the origins of movie comedy—one about some guys you know, one about someone you mostly don't— are the focus of this episode.

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(1:57) But first, a report from the Pordenone silent film festival by NitrateVille member Lokke Heiss, who's attended the festival since 1994. He talks about highlights including a Japanese discovery, a screening of The Crowd, and the magic of Louise Brooks in a short clip from the partly found Now We're In The Air.

Here's a link to the festival catalogue. Here's Lokke Heiss's review from the 2016 festival.


(14:17) Henry "Pathe" Lehrman was at Biograph with a couple of kids named Griffith and Sennett, he was arguably making better Keystone comedies than Mack Sennett was in the early days, he directed the first films of Charlie Chaplin and early works by Roscoe Arbuckle, Raymond Griffith and others, he ran several early comedy studios, and he was (supposedly) engaged to Virginia Rappé at the time of the Arbuckle scandal and her death. Yet he and his contributions to early comedy remain largely unknown.

NitrateVille member Thomas Reeder ("Pathe Lehrman" on the site) is the author of Mr. Suicide: Henry "Pathe" Lehrman and the Birth of Silent Comedy, which attempts to give this forgotten pioneer his due.

Lehman's films (other than the Chaplins) are hard to see, but here are a couple of examples:

A Billie Ritchie comedy


(37:12) As Groucho said to Warner Brothers when they threatened suit over A Night in Casablanca, we've been brothers longer than the Warner Brothers, but how did five Marx brothers eventually become The Four Marx Brothers? By spending a long time learning their trade in vaudeville, explains Robert S. Bader in his book Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage, and we talk about the development of their personas and their struggles under the regime of the UBO vaudeville monopoly.


The best view of their vaudeville/stage act is this clip from a Paramount promotional film which reproduces one of their stage routines (seen in both On the Mezzanine and I'll Say She Is):

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Pathe Lehrman

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Re: Ep. 14: Pordenone • Henry "Pathe" Lehrman • Early Marx B

PostFri Nov 03, 2017 3:44 pm

Thanks for the interview, Mike, and for giving my "labor of love," MR. SUICIDE: HENRY "PATHE" LEHRMAN AND THE BIRTH OF SILENT COMEDY, a plug.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about Henry Lehrman on an informal basis, please check out my HENRY PATHE LEHRMAN Facebook page where you can read occasional posts about various aspects of Lehrman's life and career, his films, and the personalities both onscreen and behind the camera. Here's the link:
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Re: Ep. 14: Pordenone • Henry "Pathe" Lehrman • Early Marx B

PostFri Nov 03, 2017 5:12 pm

Some great selected short subjects this time, Mike!

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