The Villain Still Pursued Her (October 11, 1940)
Released on October 11, 1940: A comedy spoof of the silent movies about a dastardly landlord foreclosing on innocent helpless young maiden.
Directed by Edward F. Cline
Written by Elbert Franklin and Ethel La Blanche.
The Actors: Billy Gilbert (Master of Ceremonies), Anita Louise (Mary Wilson), Margaret Hamilton (Mrs. Wilson), Alan Mowbray (Silas Cribbs), Richard Cromwell (Edward Middleton), Joyce Compton (Hazel Dalton), Buster Keaton (William Dalton), Diane Fisher (Julia Middleton), Hugh Herbert (Frederick Healy), Charles Judels (pie vendor), Eddie Acuff (Joe), Ernie Alexander (drunk), Bobby Barber (wedding guest), Vernon Dent (Jim, policeman), Eddie Dunn (Stevens, the coach driver), Edward Gargan (bartender), Arthur Housman (Mr. McGillicuddy, drunk), Lew Kelly (townsman Sam), Robert McKenzie (town constable), Carlotta Monti (streetwalker), Charles Murphy (lamplighter), Jack Norton (pie throwing drunk), Victor Potel (policeman), Walter Tetley (telegram boy).
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The only motion picture that I have ever seen that is like this movie was what I thought was the first ever of its kind. Now I discover that some forty years before that movie I discover this movie . . . so different and so unorthodox that it stands alone in the long, long line of motion picture history. It was July of 1980, and I had moved from the Youngstown, Ohio area to Brooklyn, Ohio, an inner ring suburb of Cleveland. Randy was one of my best friends from my teen years in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and we shared many goofy laughs as we watched the world go by. Almost everything was funny to us, and life was one giant comedy. After high school when I left Shanksville to study to become a minister I thought that I would probably never see Randy again. Those were the days before instant messaging, tweeting, friending, and the ability to keep in touch with anyone in the world. When childhood friends grew up and went their own way in the world it was not uncommon to never cross paths again. Anyway, imagine my shock when one day out of the blue I got a long distance phone call from Randy. He had found out where I was living, and was coming for a visit! He had planned a trip to the NFL Hall of Fame in nearby Canton, Ohio, and knowing that I was somewhere in Ohio, discovered that I was only a few miles away from his destination. So here he was for a visit, and what a grand reunion we had. With some time to kill, we went to an afternoon movie at a nearby theater and nearly got kicked out! Yup, we were so disruptive that we were cautioned several times to tone it down or leave. Why? The movie we were watching caused us to laugh so loudly and so out of control that we were disturbing the rest of the audience. Our stomachs ached from laughing long before the movie was over. What movie had moved us so dramatically that we could not control our reactions? Airplane - that great spoof of disaster movies. We had never seen such major stars acting so seriously as they said such outlandish things that it shocked us into uncontrolled laughter. I was positive that no movie had ever had a script like that one.
Ahhh, but someone has said that there is nothing new under the sun . . . and here, in 1940, before either of us was even a gleam in our papa's eyes, was a movie cut in the same mold. A movie full of famous and talented actors who performed with comedic timing and style unlike anything ever seen before or since . . . . er . . . . until forty years later when Airplane was released. Anyway, this one doesn't spoof disaster movies, this one is a great spoof of the silent motion pictures with a well defined bad guy, a well defined helpless maiden, and a series of misadventures that populated many of the early film dramas. Oh, I wish Randy were here to watch it with me, but as I watched and laughed, and thought of Randy, he was with me in spirit. I haven't heard from him since then, but believe that he became a famous lawyer in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I think I might stop now and see if I can google him. I sure hope he is still around. Before you make your popcorn with warm melted butter, if you have a 'laugh-buddy' - call that person and invite him or her to watch this one with you.
Anita Louise and Margaret Hamilton
Anita Louise playing the harp
Billy Gilbert, the master of ceremonies
Buster Keaton and Edward Gargan
Buster Keaton in 1940
Charles Judels and Jack Norton
Charles Judels and Jack Norton
Hugh Herbert and Buster Keaton
Hugh Herbert and Richard Cromwell
Joyce Compton and Alan Mowbray
Lew Kelly and Buster Keaton
Margaret Hamilton knitting in her rocking chair
Richard Cromwell and Alan Mowbray
Richard Cromwell and Anita Louise getting married
Richard Cromwell and Buster Keaton
Richard Cromwell and Edward Gargan
Vernon Dent and Buster Keaton
Walter Tetley and Hugh Herbert