Hokum!: The Early Sound Slapstick Short and Depression-Era Mass Culture

Hokum!: The Early Sound Slapstick Short and Depression-Era Mass Culture

by Rob King

Paperback(First Edition)

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Hokum! is the first book to take a comprehensive view of short-subject slapstick comedy in the early sound era. Challenging the received wisdom that sound destroyed the slapstick tradition, author Rob King explores the slapstick short’s Depression-era development against a backdrop of changes in film industry practice, comedic tastes, and moviegoing culture. Each chapter is grounded in case studies of comedians and comic teams, including the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, and Robert Benchley. The book also examines how the past legacy of silent-era slapstick was subsequently reimagined as part of a nostalgic mythology of Hollywood’s youth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520288119
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 04/07/2017
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Rob King is Associate Professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and author of the award-winning The Fun Factory: The Keystone Film Company and the Emergence of Mass Culture.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Audiovisual Media ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Part I Contexts

1 "The Cuckoo School": Humor and Metropolitan Culture in 1920s America 21

2 "The Stigma of Slapstick": The Short-Subject Industry and Its Imagined Public 55

Part II Case Histories

3 "The Spice of the Program": Educational Pictures and the Small-Town Audience 95

4 "I Want Music Everywhere": Music, Operetta, and Cultural Hierarchy at the Hal Roach Studios 125

5 "From the Archives of Keystone Memory": Slapstick and Re-membrance at Columbia Pictures' Short-Subjects Department 157

Coda: When Comedy Was King 191

List of Abbreviations 201

Notes 202

Index 245

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