Sunday, October 06, 2019

Lupino Lane: The Blunders of Mr. Butterbun: Trips and Tribunals

The Blunders of Mr. Butterbun: Trips and Tribunals. Lupino Lane.

European Slapstick - Prog. 2 - Next Stop Hollywood
Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM), Pordenone.
Musical Interpretation: José María Serralde Ruiz, Frank Bockius
Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in Italian by Underlight, 6 Oct 2019.

regia/dir, scen: Fred Rains. cast: Lupino Lane, Fred Rains. prod: Hagen and Double. copia/copy: 35 mm, 1709 ft [orig. 2000 ft], 25’18” (18 fps); did./titles: ENG. fonte/source: BFI National Archive, London.

Bryony Dixon (GCM): "The Mr. Butterbun comedies were a vehicle for youthful comedian Lupino Lane, who would go on to be one of the great slapstick comedians in 1920s Hollywood. This is one of two surviving episodes. The series was issued as part of the “Kinekature Comedies”, featuring stars from music hall or pantomime, which exploited a patented gimmick which distorted the film image anamorphically for comic effect. The transformation was often triggered by a device such as a magic ring, in the same style as other such pantomime devices, including Alf’s Button, Aladdin’s magic lamp, etc. The production values are modest and the direction by Fred Rains (Claude Rains’ father) is unflashy, but the humour around the tribunal has a Cockney wit that raises it above other comedies of this era."

"In this episode, the silly-ass Mr. Butterbun, played by Lupino Lane, receives a request to lead an appeal tribunal for First World War conscripts, and rushes off after much comic business getting dressed. The Board is shown at work judging the appeals of various comic characters who attempt to fool them with the usual excuses – being too old, too young, engaged in important war work, having widowed mothers to care for, and so on. Chaos ensues as the Board make a mess of their decisions. In the second part, the Board members go off to the races, and subsequently to a restaurant where they ring up a huge bill on champagne which they are unable to pay. Mr. Butterbun goes home very drunk, with more comic business, to face his angry wife."

THE MISSING LINK (GB 1917) (frammento/fragment)
regia/dir, scen: W. P. Kellino. cast: Lupino Lane, Winifred Delevanti, Blanche Bella, W. P. Kellino. prod: Homeland Productions. copia/copy: incomp., 35 mm, 149 ft [orig. 2440 ft.], 2’12” (18 fps); did./titles: ENG. fonte/source: BFI National Archive, London.

"Described in The Bioscope of 24 May 1917 as “a brisk and bustling farce”, this was Lupino Lane’s first film for Homeland Productions (he had made a few films in his “Little Nipper” character in 1916 for John Bull) and directed by comedy specialist W. P. Kellino. The comedy revolves round the efforts of Lupino’s widowed mother to carry on a flirtation with a school professor by sending her grown son back to the classroom dressed as a schoolboy. Lupino smuggles his girlfriend, the professor’s daughter, into school dressed as a boy, leading to a series of comic scenes in which Lupino gets to perform his trademark pratfalls. Some uproarious scenes in the classroom, a tuck shop, a dormitory, a registry office, and the mother’s kitchen lead up to the introduction of the professor’s ape (Will Kellino in a monkey costume), the so-called “missing link”. It is regrettable that only the classroom scene survives as a record of Lupino Lane’s earliest existing film, which was once 36 minutes long. It was well received, with one reviewer commenting, “The Missing Link is a comedy which depends entirely on the spirit in which it is played and with Mr. Lupino Lane and Miss Winnie Delevanti in the chief parts there is never any question of its success.”" Bryony Dixon (GCM)

AA: Lupino Lane showcased in hyperactive comedies. The ADHD mode becomes a bit taxing in the cruel and brutal Butterbun film full of wild and anarchic mayhem, offering courtroom farce, drunkard farce, horse racing farce and marriage farce: the harridan wife is waiting for the drunkard husband with a club. Based on the glimpse we saw, The Missing Link seems like a crude rehearsal for Zéro de conduite. In the Butterbun film the look is duped, with severe damage marks at times.

Associations wander to Brexit.


AA Facebook capsule:

The British comedian Lupino Lane's mad and anarchic films, including The Blunders of Mr. Butterbun: Trips and Tribunals, brought to mind today's Britain and its Parliament.

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