Thursday, November 27, 2014

Now You Tell One

Now You Tell One; silent comedy short, USA, 1926; D: Charles Bowers, Harold L. Muller, S: Charles Bowers

The Liars Club members hold their meeting and compete by telling the most outrageous stories in order to get the big prize as the biggest liar. However, one member thinks those are petty lies and leaves the meeting. He finds a man, Charley, trying to light a cannon with his head inside, and brings him to the Liars Club. There, Charley tells them his story: he invented a potion that enables him to grown anything fast thanks to simple grafting. He is thus able to grow eggplants, trees and other from seeds in a matter of seconds. However, he met a girl who was plagued by mice in her house, so he grew dozens and dozens of cats to solve the problem. Unfortunately, the girl wasn't the farmer's daughter, but his wife. Charley thus gets the liars prize - but his story was true.

One of the best films of the unknown and neglected comedian Charles Bowers, who coined a trademark with playing a geek character who creates the most insane inventions, "Now You Tell One" is a great little silent comedy short that features some of his most creative and inventive ideas involving his other trademark, the bizarre stop-motion animation effects. The sole setting inside a Liars Club meeting, who try to outdo each other with incredible lies, is already very fun - since their stories are "embodied" with short clips (one member brags how over 40 elephants went to the Capitol Hill, and then elephants are shown entering it; the other is shown literally shrinking in order to hide under his hat, a when the suspect enters the room and throws the hat away, he emerges from it behind the bed and catches him). Once Bowers enters the stage, the storyline just gets even crazier, and in a good and clever way, too. His invention, the potion that causes anything to grow and graft super-fast, is totally weird but very comical, and has inspiration in several moments (he puts a small plant on the ground, under a farmer's foot, and the plant starts growing so fast it enters the farmer's pants and sleeve, transforming into a tree whose branches "perforate" him, making him stay on the tree like a scarecrow). Even though the story starts losing momentum near the end, since a few empty scenes do not make up a natural continuation of the high impression assembled at the start, "Now You..." manages to become one of Bowers' most complete achievements, a pure comedy of the absurd.


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