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February 13, 2008 > Comedy film fest in Niles

Comedy film fest in Niles

By Mona Shah

Friday evening kicks off a boisterous bonanza of belly laughs and a gaggle of giggles as Niles kicks off its annual Mid-winter comedy film festival. Showcasing the "Great Kings of Silent Comedy" including Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd, those attending will also be treated to the antics of a plethora of their contemporaries such as Harry Langdon, Raymond Griffith, Lloyd Hamilton, Lupino Lane, and Ben Turpin.

For the third year in a row, a whole weekend of comedy - February 15, 16 and 17 - is hosted by film collector/ historian Richard M. Roberts along with Unknown Video's Chris Snowden. The festival will also feature special guest lectures from Rob Stone, author of "Stan or Ollie: The Solo Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy," Sam Gill, co-author of "Clown Princes and Court Jesters," and David Kiehn, early film specialist and author of "Broncho Billy and The Essanay Film Company."

This year, two programs of talkies will be included in the lineup along with five silent film segments. On Friday night and the last show on Sunday, you can hear your favorite silent film comedians speak in a variety of short films from 1930 to 1940. Like their silent counterparts, these short talkies are not often seen, especially on a big screen, so here's your chance to enjoy them in a great setting.

On Saturday, the first program will concentrate on comedies of the teens, starting with two of Chaplin's Keystone films and ending with a Larry Semon Vitagraph film co-starring Stan Laurel when Stan was still more of a stage comedian who ventured only occasionally into films. In between these films, attendees will see early efforts by talented artists who also graced early film screens.

The Saturday afternoon show features, "It's the Old Army Game" (1926), with W. C. Fields and Louise Brooks and a Laurel and Hardy short.

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