Star Item
  • Description

    Laughter and Life - Presented by Sidney James. CHECK COPYRIGHT FOR FEATURE FILM MATERIAL.

    Reel 1 M/S of Sid James as he sits at a table and writes in a book. He speaks to camera: "Hang on, I'm just rewriting a diabolical gag." He does his trademark laugh. He smiles and quotes: "Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone." He then begins to speculate on the power of laughter. He introduces a sequence of film clips by pointing out that there is a lot of violence and cruelty in much that is funny.

    Extract from a British silent comedy film. Nightclub setting, two women start a cat fight and their partners chase each other over and under dining tables. One of the men climbs up onto a balcony. Other men in the nightclub join in the proceedings. A stunt woman dangles from the balcony when part of it is pulled down. One woman pulls the other's skirt off. Slapstick antics. Sid informs us that one of the stars was Syd Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin's half-brother. This is possibly an extract from "A Little Bit of Fluff" (1928).

    Extract from a Charlie Drake film, "Sands of the Desert" (1960) follows. Charlie is in a Middle Eastern bazaar setting. Much crashing through windows, knocking over market stalls, throwing melons, fighting locals, woman trying to paint the scene around her, melons falling on Charlie's head etc.

    Sid discusses the ingredients essential for "slapstick" humour then we see an example from the film "My Learned Friend". Will Hay and Claude Hulbert engage in a bar room brawl with humorous falls, punches, throws, loud sound effects, breaking bottles etc. More slapstick is featured in an extract from the George Formby film "Trouble Brewing" (1939). We see George in a brewery setting swinging on ropes, making his pursuers fall into vats of beer etc.

    Another extract from a George Formby film - "Come on George" (1939). George is running along the top of a train as it travels at speed. The train approaches a tunnel, George says "ooh, somebody save me!" and jumps through a doorway just in time.

    Monty Banks has to deal with a jealous husband in "Adam's Apple" (1928). They have a comedy fight in a gymnasium. Weights, boxing bag, gymnasium horse, etc are used as props and weapons.

    Stanley Lupino and Bruce Seton are seen having a fight in "Lucky to Me" (1939). Stanley is thrown around a living room whilst the girlfriend tries to stop the fight with pathetic pleading.

    The ingredients of the "cliff-hanger" are described - suspense plus danger. George Formby is seen on the ledge of a tall building. He slips and knocks a piece of plaster work on a man below. He hangs on to a piece of pipe which then comes loose from the wall. "Somebody save me!"

    Monty Banks swings on a rope high above a busy road in an attempt to rescue "some bird or other" He grabs the girl and she swings backwards and forwards with him. A drunken man in top hat saves them by grabbing the girl's leg with his walking stick. He leaves Monty hanging on the rope outside the window.

    Reel 2 Disguises are an important part of a comic's business Sid tells us. Will Hay and John Mills are seen in a scene from "Black Sheep of Whitehall" (1942) where Will Hay is dressed as a nurse. We then see Hay as the schoolmaster in "Ghost of St Michael's" (1941). Charles Hawtrey plays a know-it-all schoolboy. Continued.

    Stanley Lupino and Gus McNaughton are seen in "Happy" (1933) showing techniques of "quick fire back chat" in a scene about an invention for a new car alarm.

    Robertson Hare and Alfred Drayton appear in a comedy scene. Two toffs chase after a butler, they pull off his trousers. A man is tied up inside a grandfather clock. Detectives come to the door.

    "Bunny" as Robertson Hare is known, sits and talks to Sid James in the studio. He reminisces about all the films he made with Alfred Drayton. Tom Walls and Ralph Lynn are mentioned. Bunny talks about how well the Aldwych Farces were written and produced. Sid asks Bunny "How many times did they have the pants off you?" Bunny gives us his catch phrase "Oh calamity!" They have a laugh together.

    Sid talks about "Dead of Night" (1945) in which Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford play friendly rivals at golf and in love. The girl sits between them as they moan about how she puts them off their game. They decide to play a game for the affections of the woman. Some cheating goes on. The loser walks off the golf course and straight into the lake, going under until only his hat floats on the top.

    Continued in reel 3 - see Film ID 2281.07.

  • Tags

  • Data

    British Pathé
    Issue Date:
    1928 - 1960
    Media URN:
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Film ID:
    Black & White
    Time in/Out:
    01:23:13:00 / 01:42:57:00
    Sort Number:
  • Appears in...

    Historical Figures & Celebrities Entertainment & Humour
    entertainment comedy films new hibdc Laughter ENT -MUSIC/DANCEHALLS -PERFORMERS Carry On... fresh one - pop goes green inc - sid james Many Faces Sid James Untitled Workspace resources George Formby group Documentaries (1976) Documentary warning Long documentary A detailed look The Entertainer Dead Funny
  • Stills

    0:01 0:02 0:03 0:04

Comments (4)

  1. jamied says

    Paragraph 3, "Sid Chaplin" should read either Syd or Sydney Chaplin. He was Charlie Chaplin's half-brother, rather than brother.

    Paragraph 4 - the Charlie Drake movie is his 1960 effort "Sands of the Desert".

    Paragraph 5 - "Trouble Brewing" was made in 1939.

    Paragraph 6 - "another extract from a George Formby film" - its from his 1939 movie "Come on George".

    Paragraph 7 - "Adam's Apple" was made in 1928.

    Paragraph 8 - "Bruce Seaton" should read Bruce Seton. The film, "Lucky to Me", was made in 1939.

    Paragraph 11 - "Will Hay is dressed as a nurse" - this is "Black Sheep of Whitehall", released in 1942.

    Paragraph 11 - "we then see Hay as the schoolmaster" - this is the 1941 film "Ghost of St Michael's".

    Paragraph 12 - "Happy" was released in 1933.

    Final paragraph - the film described with Naunton Wayne is "Dead of Night", from 1945. The girl in the sequence is Peggy Bryan.

  2. jamied says

    Given the dates of the film included in the clip, perhaps the piece's date range can now be altered to 1928-60?

  3. British Pathé says

    Very helpful indeed. Thanks very much. Any of these films worth a watch?

  4. jamied says

    The Black Sheep of Whitehall and The Ghost of St Michael's are well worth watching - in fact most Will Hay films (especially Ask a Policeman) are a good way to spend 90 minutes of your life!

We always welcome comments and more information about our films.
All posts are reactively checked. Libellous and abusive comments are forbidden.

Add your comment