Dizzy Heights and Daring Hearts
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Mack Sennett founded his Keystone Studios in 1912 and, along with such superstars as Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand, included in his roster of players such second-string comics as Chester Conklin. Known for his small stature and walrus mustache, Conklin had begun for Sennett as a Keystone Kop at $3 a day. He later partnered with both Chaplin and Normand, as well as comic actor Mack Swain, in a series of popular films.
Conklin has the lead in the silent short Dizzy Heights and Daring Hearts (1915), playing A. Walrus, a foreign agent who commandeers an experimental airplane. Also aboard is an aviatrix (Claire Anderson) who is the daughter of the owner of the plane.
As directed by Walter Wright, the usual Keystone formula is varied here, with the emphasis less on slapstick than daring aerial thrills. The camera tricks may seem crude now, but in their day the stunts were considered quite up-to-date and enthralling, with fearless dives and loop-the-loops. According to biographer Simon Louvish in his book Keystone: The Life and Times of Mack Sennett, this short contains the first aerial chase ever filmed. Its climax depicts villain/hero Conklin being saved from the top of a smokestack that is about to explode.
Producer: Mack Sennett
Director: Walter Wright
Screenplay: Clarence G. Badger, Jean C. Havez
Cast: Chester Conklin (Mr. Walrus), Claire Anderson, Nick Cogley (Father), Dave Anderson, Walter Klintberg, Wil Mason (Airplane owner).
by Roger Fristoe