Another John Bunny Jolly From Vitagraph
Her Crowning Glory a Genteel Reel From 1911
John Bunny was a fat man comedian who was celebrity's first flowering among fun-makers, his a most meaningful name in the category until early death came calling in 1915. An always flushed look and burning bulbous nose suggested a man whose heart was ready to explode, and indeed, I'd suppose it was. Bunny wasn't for slapstick, his humor more situational and personality-based. Besides, the wild and wooly stuff patented by Mack Sennett was still in offing when Bunny hopped most prominently. His clowning partner was stick-thin and woebegone Flora Finch, her clock-stopping face a comic contrast to his rotundity. They did oodles of films together (called "Bunnyfinches" by an admiring trade), few surviving today, but ones that do are mirrors of what amused nickel viewers. In an era when so many players were expressionless clouds, Bunny registered strong; you'd not mistake his entrance for anyone else's. Her Crowning Glory has JB's bratty kid (Helene Costello, spawn of a distinguished acting family) laying torment, and sharp pins, onto Finch's beleaguered backside. Hurt seemed as funny then as now, I suppose. Everything occurs in a Victorian sitting parlor. You expect someone any minute to bring in news of the Titanic sinking. Part of Treasures Of American Film Archives: Volume One, and a splendid job of reclaiming a short that might just as easily have been lost with so many of the rest. And here was Amazon sticker shock: Volume One is now out of print and going for $100 and up (mostly up) for used sets. Lesson from all this? Strike while iron is hot when silents are released.