Archive for May 4th, 2012


by Allan Fish

I think it was Richard Burton who once said that he always had trouble playing a drunk, because he could never remember how he acted when he was drunk.  Drunks on screen have been a fixture on screen since the beginning.  Indeed, it was his drunk act in Fred Karno’s London show that Mack Sennett saw and caused Charlie Chaplin to be invited to Hollywood.  He arrived, wasn’t recognised by Sennett, then promptly did the act again.  He was hired.  Drunks stayed at the heart of silent comedy and Chaplin’s in particular.  His short masterpiece One a.m. is a ballet of perfection, an extended version of that Karno drunk act.  In The Cure he gets everyone drunk, while in City Lights Harry Myers couldn’t remember…we’re back to Burton again.


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