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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Vitaphone Introduces A Fresh Comic


Joe E. Brown in Twinkle-Twinkle (1927)

One of those earliest Vitaphone shorts where performers bow at the end and wait for your applause. For initial novelty months it was a habit, then audiences became self-conscious clapping for phantom figures and began jeering instead. A most promising of Vita-jesters was Joe E. Brown, who has what appears to be a screen debut here. He's certainly different, if not fall-down funny, with a strong voice that augured well for features to come. Warners must have looked close at this reel, for they'd make Brown a comic force and big money farceur right through to the mid-thirties. Twinkle-Twinkle has a studio setting, Joe as intruder seeking "Griff," that is, D.W. Griffith, who was still, but for not much longer, representing Hollywood hierarchy. Brown's satchel mouth is unpacked; it would take a public years to tire of that. He's good at comic rehearsal of clinches with a screen vamp, demonstrating himself as a next big thing in talking comedy. Overall a priceless reel, thank heaven extant in spite of minor nitrate decomp in an opening scene. It's part of another Vitaphone Varieties set (Volume Two) from Warner Archive.

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