Max and the girls

Max Davidson in Why Girls Say No (1927)

The Bioscope is going to try and devote more attention to new DVDs and new print publications in our field. But will we have any more welcome a title to announce than the latest offering from Germany’s Edition Filmmuseum, due out in February? It’s Max Davidson Comedies, a collection of twelve comedy shorts (two of them talkies) on a 2-disc set. Davidson was a Hollywood supporting actor who enjoyed a brief period as a star attraction when he appeared in a series of comedies made in the late 1920s for Hal Roach Studios. His speciality was Jewish humour, and though some have expressed doubts about the durability of such ethnic humour, the exuberant freshness of Davidson’s comedy, coupled with a knowing sense of the world’s follies which gives him a particularly modern appeal, have made Davidson a great festival favourite. Titles such as the sublime Pass the Gravy (a strong candidate for funniest silent comedy short of them all) and the gloriously named Jewish Prudence are essential viewing and a tonic for our tired times.

The full list of titles is:

* Why Girls Say No 1927, 22′
* Jewish Prudence 1927, 21′
* Don’t Tell Everything 1927, 22′
* Should Second Husbands Come First? 1927, 21′
* Flaming Fathers 1927, 24′
* Hurdy Gurdy 1929, 20′

* Call of the Cuckoo 1927, 19′
* Love ’em and Feed ’em 1927, 9′, tinted
* Pass the Gravy 1928, 25′
* Dumb Daddies 1928, 15′
* Came the Dawn 1928, 17′, tinted
* The Boy Friend 1928, 19′
* The Itching Hour 1931, 18′

The films features new scores by Joachim Bärenz, Christian Roderburg and Stephen Horne, a 20-page bilingual Booklet with essays by Richard W. Bann, Steve Massa, Stewart Tryster and Stefan Drössler, and copies of scripts, cutting continuities, stills and lobby cards of all the lost Max Davidson comedies as additional DVD-ROM features. The PAL DVD is region 0, with German or English titles.

While we’re here, we ought also to mention an Edition Filmmuseum release from last month, Female Comedy Teams. This shows the efforts made by Hal Roach Studios in the late 20s and early 30s to create female comedy duos, such as Anita Garvin and Marion Byron, Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts, and Thelma Todd with Patsy Kelly. The 2-disc set contains films that are mostly new to me, and I’m certainly very keen to see Garvin and Byron’s A Pair of Tights (1929), confidently described on the site as “one of the greatest silent two reel comedies ever done”.

Just the first two films on the disc (both Garvin and Byron) are silent, but in our new expansive spirit we’ll acknowledge the existence of the Thelma Todd sound shorts as well. The full list of titles is:

* Feed ’em and Weep 1928, 16′ (Garvin & Byron) [New score by Günter A. Buchwald (piano & violin)]
* A Pair of Tights 1929, 19′ (Garvin & Byron) [New scores by Joachim Bärenz (piano) and Christian Roderburg (percussion)]
* The Pajama Party 1931, 20′ (Todd & Pitts)
* On the Loose 1931, 20′ (Todd & Pitts)
* Show Business 1932, 19′ (Todd & Pitts)
* Asleep in the Feet 1933, 18′ (Todd & Pitts)
* Work in Progress: The Restoration of GOING GA-GA 5′

* The Bargain of the Century 1933, 19′ (Todd & Pitts)
* Beauty and the Bus 1933, 17′ (Todd & Kelly)
* Babes in the Goods 1934, 19′ (Todd & Kelly)
* Maid in Hollywood 1934, 19′ (Todd & Kelly)
* The Misses Stooge 1935, 18′ (Todd & Kelly)
* Top Flat 1935, 19′ (Todd & Kelly)

There is a 20-page bilingual booklet with essays by Anke Sterneborg, Dave Stevenson and Cole Johnson, and a DVD-ROM section with further essays, documents and stills. Again, it’s a PAL DVD, region 0, with German or English titles.

Trailers for both DVDs can be viewed on the Edition Filmmuseum site.