Sitwell’s Request Cinema

After the fun and success of the “Summer Sounds of Silents” film program in August, or tent THOUGHT that we’d have a nice little break until the next scheduled event, the “Halloween Spooktacular”, scheduled for October 17. However, this was not to be…

Our tent was contacted by the owners of Sitwell’s Coffee House in the Clifton area of Cincinnati, and asked to present a one-night showing of films from the extensive Chimp Tent library. Honored by such a request, the tent quickly scrambled together a fun-filled festive assortment of viewing delights to enthrall Sitwell’s patrons that night.

Twenty-eight (28!) persons looking for laughs attended the one-time only (for now?!) event on a wet Friday evening. This was our tent’s first film get-together in a public place, as our previous meetings had taken place in private areas, either conference rooms, auditoriums, or a Masonic Lodge,. A change from our usual modu operandi was that, instead of attendees bringing snacks and nibbles to share with others, Sitwell’s offered food and drink for purchase that we could enjoy along with the films.

We began with the 1941 Warner Brothers cartoon, “Hollywood Steps Out”, released May 24 of that year (running time 7:00) featuring all the Hollywood stars of that era. Our hero Mr. Hardy was featured dancing with not one, but two girls simultaneously!

We followed this with the 1935 Our Gang comedy short, “Free Wheelin’”, released October 1, 1932 (19:40), which featured Dickie Moore and a very young Spanky McFarland. Dinah the mule (who later featured prominently in 1937’s “Way Out West” – one of our favorite Laurel and Hardy films which was shown at our July meeting) also appeared, and worse for wear due to some alcoholic imbibing!

Towed In A Hole” was our first Laurel and Hardy film for the evening. This movie, first released December 31, 1932 (20:00) gave true meaning to the expression, “United we stand, divided we fall!” Mssrs. L&H indeed “fell” by the end of this film…

Next up was “Big Business”, our silent film of the evening, released on April 20, 1929 (17:52). A classic case of “reciprocal destruction” was observed not only by Tiny Sandford (who played the policeman in this film), but by all in attendance. Everyone enjoyed the superb live keyboard accompaniment by member Joan Chrislip. Joan really enhanced the movie’s actions (and re-actions!) with her wonderful score. Thanks, Joan!

What’s more trouble than one pair of Laurel and Hardy? ow about two pairs! “Brats”, released March 22, 1930 (19:55) featured our heroes playing both fathers and sons to their look-alike offspring. “Boys will be boys” alright!

Busy Bodies”, released October 7, 1933 (18:24) was shown next, and made everyone grateful that OSHA (Occupatoinl Safety and Health administration, a government agent) was not around in those days. The Boys were a part of not a few blatant safety violations in the workplace!

Hog Wild”, released May 31, 1930 (18:24), provided us with a mixture of good old-fashioned slapstick (Laurel and Hardy on the roof trying to put up an antennae) with a dash of Mack Sennett (Hardy on a ladder as Laurel drives wildly thorugh the streets of Culver City). Ollie’s “tip of this derby” to double-deck bus patrons as he passed them while atop the ladder was a highlight of this gem.

And so concluded an unusual evening, for our tent, at a coffee hose. It was good fun, and given the encouraging signs of laughter and applause that occurred during the films and at their conclusions, we’ll consider future events at other places like Sitwell’s. But whether it’s a private hall, auditorium, conference room, or public place like a restaurant, we hope you’ll join us and add to our laughter.

And now it became time to begin preparations for the following week’s “Halloween Spooktacular”…

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