Slapstick 2008

Chaplin and Linder

Charlie Chaplin and Max Linder, from

Full details of the Slapstick 2008 silent film festival have been published, at last. The festival is taking place in Bristol, 17-20 January, and screenings take place at the Watershed, Arnolfini, Colston Hall and St George’s Bristol. Here’s the full line-up:

Thursday 17 January

Funny Ladies I: The Extra Girl (USA 1923)
14.00 at Watershed

“The plucky Mabel Normand stars as Sue, a small town girl who wants to be a star. She wins a contract with a big studio when a picture of a very pretty girl is sent to a studio instead of hers. When she arrives in Hollywood, the mistake is discovered.”

Pencil and Plasticine
18.00 at Watershed

“Animation legends Richard Williams and Peter Lord explore their mutual passion for pre-talkie animation with extracts including early Disney, Willis O’Brien and the unforgettable Jerry the Troublesome Tyke!”

Serge Bromberg presents: Retour de Flamme
20.20 at Watershed

“Since 1985, Paris-based Lobster Films have been champions of restoring archive and silent films. We are delighted to welcome Serge Bromberg, co-founder of Lobster, to Slapstick 2008 to present the first UK version of this extraordinary Retour de Flammeshow; a unique chance to experience the films he discovered and restored with his very own live piano accompaniment.”

Friday 18 January

Keystone Chaplin
9.00 at Watershed

David Robinson presents: A Film Johnnie,The Star Boarder and Kid Auto Races.

Funny Ladies II: Funny Ladies of the Silent Screen
11.00 at Watershed

Byrony Dixon and David Wyatt present a selection of silent comediennes.

Neil Innes presents: Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (France 1953)
14.00 at Watershed

Composer-performer Neil Innes, best known for his work with Monty Python and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, introduces Jacques Tati’s classic comedy.

Funny Ladies III: It (USA 1927)
16.00 at Arnolfini

“Clara Bow’s sizzling personality is irresistible in the role that did most to establish her as an icon.”

Special Gala Event: Paul Merton’s Silent Comedy Classics

The Gold Rush (1925)
7.30pm at Colston Hall

“Paul Merton hosts this special Slapstick Gala, featuring the world première of Timothy Brock’s reworking of Chaplin’s score for his greatest silent comedy The Gold Rush performed by the 15 piece Emerald Ensemble. With additional comedy shorts, including Laurel and Hardy classic Leave ’em Laughing and special guests Paul McGann and Christopher Chaplin.”

Saturday 19 January

Chaplin: A Fresh Look – Panel Discussion
9.00 at Watershed

“With programmes such as Kevin Brownlow’s Unknown Chaplin and Paul Merton’s Silent Clowns, TV has introduced Chaplin to a new public and re-affirmed his place in world cinema and the history of comedy. This panel discussion looks at Chaplin’s place in today’s cinema and includes newly discovered home movie footage of Chaplin. Chaired by official Chaplin biographer David Robinson with guests including: Paul Merton, Serge Bromberg and Bryony Dixon.”

Laurel and Hardy Tales with Jean Darling
11.00 at Watershed
Jean Darling, who worked with Laurel and Hardy and starred in Hal Roach’s legendary Our Gang, is interviewed by David Wyatt.

Audience with Nicholas Parsons
14.00 at Watershed

Nicholas discusses his long career in radio and TV and his passion for Keaton and Chaplin, The Arthur Haynes show and Benny Hill. Hosted by Paul Merton.

Funny Ladies IV: Exit Smiling (USA 1926)
16.00 at Arnolfini

“Beatrice Lillie plays Violet, steering a path through a trail of accidents with dotty elegance and the same dogged faith that keeps the character blind to the real feelings of Jack Pickford, the troubled bank clerk her heart is set on.” Live musical accompaniment by Neil Brand, Gunter Buchwald and Frank Bockius.

Buster Keaton: His Classic Comedy Shorts
with Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden
20.00 at St George’s Bristol

“Former ‘Goodies’ and current I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue panellists Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden choose their favourite Keaton short films, revealing the works that have influenced their lives.” With live musical accompaniment from Neil Brand (piano) and Gunter Buchwald (percussion and violin).

Sunday 20 January

Silent Comedy and The Great War
with Paul McGann and Matthew Sweet
11.00 at Watershed

Paul McGann and Matthew Sweet look at extracts from films focusing on the First World War to examine the role of silent comedy in boosting morale. The programme includes extracts from The Better Ole (1926) and a complete screening of Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms (1918).

Paul Merton’s French Silent Clowns
14.00 at Watershed

Festival host Paul Merton explores the work of great French silent comedy pioneers including Léonce Perret and ‘Father of Silent Comedy’ Max Linder.

Phill and Neil’s Slapstick Heaven
16.00 at Watershed

“Phill Jupitus and Neil Innes take us on a journey from silent comedy and beyond, discussing their influences and passions, looking along the way at extracts from The Rutles, Monty Python and the irrepressible Spike Milligan.”

Speedy (USA 1928)
Introduced by Paul Merton
20.30 at Watershed

Harold Lloyd’s last silent film, “a superb valedictory to the silent era”.

That’s a mightily impressive line-up of presenters, and they’ve managed to squeeze in a few good films too. Pleased to see Paul Merton turning his attentions to Léonce Perret and Max Linder. Perhaps he can be persuaded to resurrect Cretinetti, Bébé, Bout-de-Zan, Onésime and a few more of the ‘lost’ European slapstick stars one day…

Further details from the Slapstick site, which is a little confusing to navigate, but you’ll find the full programme under Events (sub-divided by day).

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