Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

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JLNeibaur
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Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by JLNeibaur » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:16 pm

Not many dig the madness of Larry Semon's work the way I do. Here is a link to a review on my website where I try to make a case for his feature "The Perfect Clown."

https://goo.gl/Dm6eeu" target="_blank

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Lonesome Luke
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Lonesome Luke » Sun Jul 22, 2018 7:49 pm

The first time I saw The Perfect Clown I was surprised at how good it was. It's definitely better than The Wizard of Oz by a long shot. Too bad there isn't as nice a copy on DVD of that one, as there is of The Wizard of Oz.

BTW, good review; too bad you've never written a book on his films.


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Tommie Hicks
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Tommie Hicks » Sun Jul 22, 2018 8:50 pm

Grapevine video has an excellent transfer from an original 16mm reduction. Grapevine's first version of this film in the old VHS days was from 8mm. When Grapevine obtained the better print, Grapevine sent me a copy of the newer version free of charge.

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Lonesome Luke
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Lonesome Luke » Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:43 pm

Tommie Hicks wrote:Grapevine video has an excellent transfer from an original 16mm reduction.
I found a copy of the film on a Russian website that might have been taken from the Grapevine transfer that I'm happy with for now (until someone else puts out an even better transfer, with some extra short films thrown in for good measure). The one on YouTube is a bit clearer than mine, except it's missing the title at the beginning and has no music. Anyway, I tend to watch his early short films where he wears his clown costume more then his newer ones. IMO, it was a bad more on his part to stop using it.

BTW, I bought the Larry Semon (1918-1927) Vol. 1 DVD from Grapevine a while back, but was disappointed with the image quality. I've since managed to find better versions for all of them, except one.

IA
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by IA » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:29 pm

Lonesome Luke wrote:BTW, I bought the Larry Semon (1918-1927) Vol. 1 DVD from Grapevine a while back, but was disappointed with the image quality. I've since managed to find better versions for all of them, except one.
I'd be interested to know which are the better versions. I'm relatively new to Semon and don't yet know where to start.

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boblipton
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by boblipton » Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:14 pm

Lonesome Luke wrote:The first time I saw The Perfect Clown I was surprised at how good it was. It's definitely better than The Wizard of Oz by a long shot. Too bad there isn't as nice a copy on DVD of that one, as there is of The Wizard of Oz.
There is no nice copy of Semon's The Wizard of Oz, since it would involve looking at the movie.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

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Tommie Hicks
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Tommie Hicks » Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:43 pm

I was told by someone involved with THE WIZARD OF OZ restoration that they had three intact nitrate prints from which to make the restoration. This film did not bomb and run Chadwick out of business as was reported before.

Metaldams
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Metaldams » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:03 am

I have the old Grapevine release of this one....on VHS. Been a few years since I've seen it, but I agree it is a lot better than WIZARD OF OZ, if not exactly classic status. It was directed by Fred Newmeyer, and certainly worth seeing. I'll have to dig this one out again.

I would love to see a good restored set of Semon's work. That and Lloyd one reelers (and strangely enough, why does auto correct on my iPad change "reelers" to "feelers") are on my wish list on restored DVD/Blu-Ray releases.
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Lonesome Luke
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Lonesome Luke » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:24 am

IA wrote:I'd be interested to know which are the better versions. I'm relatively new to Semon and don't yet know where to start.
I found most of the Semon films I have on a Russian website and on YouTube.
Metaldams wrote:I would love to see a good restored set of Semon's work. That and Lloyd one reelers (and strangely enough, why does auto correct on my iPad change "reelers" to "feelers") are on my wish list on restored DVD/Blu-Ray releases.
It would be great if Kino (or CineMuseum) would put out a Blu-ray of Larry Semon films just like they did with Keaton - so many of his films are available too. The Lloyd Short films are on my wish list too, but at the rate that Criterion is releasing his films, I'm afraid we won't be seeing them until 2030!

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Smari1989
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Smari1989 » Tue Aug 07, 2018 2:58 pm

Nice review of THE PERFECT CLOWN, Neibaur.

Semon fascinates me... I have to be in a special, almost outrageously silly mood to appreciate him; once I sit down and actually watch him I usually enjoy it (and I'm sure he works wonderful with a large audience), but I just about never seek him out on purpose, I've always just sort of "stumbled upon" the films of his I've seen. One reason may be that (sorry to be so prudish!) a few of his most "grotesque" gags have literally made me nauseous. :lol: GOLF and FRAUDS & FRENZIES are pretty hilarious from what I recall, though. He sure seems to have had an interesting life, in any event (as if that wasn't the case with just about all of the silent clowns).

Metaldams
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Metaldams » Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:08 pm

Larry Semon was two weeks older than I am when he died as of me typing this. Unbelievable. I wonder how much of it was stress (I understand there were financial and career issues....he wasn't exactly fiscally frugal with his work) and how much was genetic? There is a bio of him out there, I should pick it up and learn more.

I actually do seek Semon out, having bought old tapes of his years back. I enjoy Semon for the spectacle and gags, plain and simple. Watching men swing from water towers at ridiculous heights is a simple pleasure of mine. :D I usually appreciate subtlety, but when I'm in the mood for something else, Semon has his place.
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Jim Roots
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Jim Roots » Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:16 am

Metaldams wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:08 pm
Larry Semon was two weeks older than I am when he died as of me typing this. Unbelievable. I wonder how much of it was stress (I understand there were financial and career issues....he wasn't exactly fiscally frugal with his work) and how much was genetic? There is a bio of him out there, I should pick it up and learn more.

I actually do seek Semon out, having bought old tapes of his years back. I enjoy Semon for the spectacle and gags, plain and simple. Watching men swing from water towers at ridiculous heights is a simple pleasure of mine. :D I usually appreciate subtlety, but when I'm in the mood for something else, Semon has his place.
His death might have been faked. See my discussion of this possibility in my review of The Sawmill in my book, 100 Essential Silent Film Comedies.

Jim

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Smari1989
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Smari1989 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:07 pm

Metaldams wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:08 pm
I usually appreciate subtlety, but when I'm in the mood for something else, Semon has his place.
Sort of how I feel about his work, too. Heck, there are times when I'm in the mood for Ham & Bud..! However, for a comedian to become a dear favorite of mine, s/he generally needs to strike me as being something a little bit more than a cartoon character. This isn't to say that I can't greatly appreciate the more "cartoony" clowns, it's just that I don't "miss" them in my daily life as I may do with Chaplin, Keaton etc.

I've heard of the rumor that Semon may have faked his own death before, but thought the consensus was that the chances of it being true are pretty slim. But I'm not really in a position to make a dependable guess, myself.

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Tommie Hicks
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Tommie Hicks » Mon Aug 13, 2018 6:52 am

Having looked into Larry's life I am convinced he did die in 1928.

Larry's ashes were sent to family members in Philadelphia who did not like him. Larry abandoned his wife and daughter when Larry was making good money, and Larry was in show business and went bankrupt. These facts were an anathema to his Jewish family's sensibilities. I think it's likely his ashes were tossed unannounced on the family plot.

The best account of Larry's death can be found in the definitive book on him by Dr. Sassen, Larry Semon, Daredevil Comedian of the Silent Screen.

Larry Semon was undoubtedly a MOTION picture comedian.

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Smari1989
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Smari1989 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:44 am

I really want to buy Sassen’s Semon biography but am on a bit of a tight budget these days. Are the rumors of Semon faking his own demise discussed in the book?

Yeah, it does seem unlikely to me as well; after all, bankrupt or not, Semon wasn’t exactly a nobody even in 1928, his face would’ve been instantly recognizable to millions of people. Where could he’ve gone into hiding? Still, the rumors add something to his myth, which I guess is not an altogether bad thing, necessarily - so long as people realize that it’s most likely just that, a myth.

Having read Paul Auster’s magnificent novel BOOK OF ILLUSIONS a while back, I wonder if Auster was a bit inspired by the «Semon myth» as he fleshed out the story of fictitious comic Hector Mann.

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Jim Roots
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Re: Review: Larry Semon's THE PERFECT CLOWN

Unread post by Jim Roots » Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:47 pm

I would really like you to read the full discussion in my book, because a short summary doesn't do it justice. I will only point out that no one but the doctor got to see Semon on his supposed deathbed -- even his wife, Dorothy Dwan, was forced to squint into the darkened room from the doorway and was forbidden to get any closer. And Semon's face appeared to be swathed in bandages, and the sanitarium doctor specialized in plastic surgery. So there's the possible answer to your question about how could he pass unrecognized in the street.

Sassen raises a few red flags, including a timeline that makes it apparent that the sanitarium faked letters from Dwan, but she is very circumspect about drawing any conclusions. There are bits of evidence, especially from Dwan's account of her visit, but there is nothing you can wave in the air and proclaim a smoking gun.

(Sassen's book is good. Hey, so is mine!)

Jim

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