The Golf Nut


11m 1927

Brief Synopsis

A golf enthusiast wreaks havoc on a private country club.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Short
Sports
Silent
Release Date
1927
Production Company
Mack Sennett Comedies
Distribution Company
Pathé Exchange

Technical Specs

Duration
11m

Synopsis

A golf enthusiast wreaks havoc on a private country club.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Short
Sports
Silent
Release Date
1927
Production Company
Mack Sennett Comedies
Distribution Company
Pathé Exchange

Technical Specs

Duration
11m

Articles

The Golf Nut


Mack Sennett and slapstick humor are frequently discussed in the same breath. Sennett conceived gags, directed shorts, and appeared as zany characters onscreen, innovating a style of physical humor that lives on in American comedy. And yet his greatest talent was likely not directing, writing, or performing: It was arguably his ability to discover and foster comic talent.

Fans of silent comedy know that Sennett discovered or gave opportunity to a host of performers who became major stars, including Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Fatty Arbuckle, Harold Lloyd, and Harry Langdon. But, for every Chaplin or Lloyd, there was a Sterling or Conklin--a second tier of stars--who contributed their talents to Sennett's comedy shorts. Sennett also discovered directors and writers, including Harry Edwards, Henry Lehrman, Eddie Cline, Malcolm St. Clair, and Frank Capra.

Sennett stopped directing in 1915 but continued to supervise the writing and editing of the shorts he produced. He founded Keystone in 1912, after learning to direct action at Biograph, where he followed the continuity editing techniques innovated by D.W. Griffith. In 1915, he joined with Griffith and producer Thomas Ince to form the distribution company Triangle. He left that organization in 1917, though he was forced to forfeit the name Keystone. He continued to produce shorts into the 1930s under the name Mack Sennett Comedies.

Throughout the stages of his career, Sennett's approach to screen comedy remained constant. Most of his stable of comedians adopted a comic persona that was consistent from film to film. Performers often worked in pairs, playing best buddies, or a husband and wife. The pair had opposing physical characteristics and personalities. One might be short and the other tall; one could be skinny and the other fat; one a rube and the other a sophisticate. During the Keystone and Keystone-Triangle periods, directors and actors were given scenarios conceived by Sennett and his writers. The directors and actors interpreted the situations and gags, improvising the physical humor, or working it out during shooting. Sennett was fond of simple camera tricks to create a sense of speed, frenzy, or chaos. Chases were speeded up through undercranking the camera, which propelled characters and vehicles forward in fast motion. He also used reverse motion to un-do or reverse an action. Plots fell into three categories: There were conventional, familiar storylines, such as domestic dysfunction, or a budding romance, but the action would be loaded down with gags. The most complex storylines tended to be parodies of existing genres or directors, while the simplest plots consisted of a series of gags developed around a central location. Viewing the following comedy shorts from the early days through the end of the silent era reveals the Sennett style while showcasing the talents of his stable.

Harry Langdon translated his sweetly innocent stage persona to the big screen at Mack Sennett's studio in the early 1920s, with the help of director Harry Edwards and writers Arthur Ripley and Frank Capra. During the 1920s, Sennett tried his hand at structured, situational narratives, and Edwards was hired (actually, re-hired) in 1924 to direct them. Edwards and Langdon formed such a bond while making The Luck o' the Foolish in 1924 that the comedian worked with no other director for the rest of his tenure with Sennett. Two of the team's best collaborations at Sennett were His Marriage Wow (1925) and Fiddlesticks (1927), partly because of Langdon's frequent costar, Vernon Dent. Typical of the Sennett style, the two had opposing comic personas: Dent's gruff, strong-willed characters contrasted well with the reticent Langdon. In His Marriage Wow, Dent plays crazed Professor McGlumm who fills Harry's head with doom and gloom stories about marriage before his upcoming vows. In the second reel, McGlumm takes Harry on a manic car ride before going back to the asylum. The car sequence was shot on Larchmont Avenue, a favorite location for Sennett's shorts. Sennett experimented with three-reelers during the 1920s, and Fiddlesticks, starring Langdon and Dent, began life as a three-reeler called "The Junkman." Langdon starred as a would-be musician thrown into the street by his family, with Dent playing the junkman who exploits him. After Langdon left Sennett in 1926, taking Edwards, Capra, and Ripley with him, Sennett released the film as the two-reeler Fiddlesticks.

Ford Sterling and Chester Conklin don't have the name recognition of Harry Langdon, but both were major stars for Keystone. A former circus clown, Sterling worked with Sennett at Biograph as early as 1911. When the director departed to form his own company, the actor left with him, starring in Keystone's first release. One of Sennett's first successful comedians, and initially part of the infamous Keystone Kops, Sterling was the most exaggerated performer in Sennett's stable in terms of characterizations and physical movements. Around 1913, he was cast as the mustache-twirling villain in A Strong Revenge, a comic send-up of old-fashioned Victorian melodrama. His exaggerated approach to comedy suited the parodic nature of the material, and Sterling gained stardom playing over-the-top comic villains. Success drove him to leave Keystone for Universal to star in his own series of comedies, but the series was not memorable. He soon returned to Keystone. He left again in 1917 for Fox but was back in the fold the following year. By that time, Sterling was considered part of an older generation of performers, and his comic style seemed old-fashioned. Don't Weaken! (1920), a short starring Sterling as a dance instructor challenged to a boxing match, was shot in his final months at Sennett. He ended up at Poverty Row's Special Comedies Corporation, and, the following decade, he appeared in a few talkies. But, when he lost a leg in an accident, his career--which was dependent on physical slapstick--was over. He died in 1939, forgotten and unsung.

'Curses!' They Remarked (1914) stars Chester Conklin as a reprobate who kidnaps an heiress. Like Sterling and other pioneering comic actors, his career began in the circus, but Conklin had worked as an acrobat. He knew how to push his body to its limits in his stunts and gags, which pleased Sennett. Conklin also started out as a Kop, but he quickly developed an annoying, know-it-all character called Droppington for a series of shorts. In "Curses," Conklin plays an outright scoundrel for the first time, paving the way for him to replace Sterling as Keystone's resident villain.

Many of Sennett's comic actors are completely unknown to modern audiences, but they reflect the producer's dependence on comic personas and familiar plotlines. In Wife and Auto Trouble (1916), William Collier stars in a domestic comedy about a hen-pecked husband and his controlling wife. Collier made three films for Keystone, playing a sophisticated, debonair white-collar type. Here, the diminutive Collier played opposite tall, big-boned Blanche Payson. Payson was a former Arizona policewoman who joined Keystone in 1914-1915. Her size and over-bearing persona made her a good character actress, and she was in demand until the 1930s. Wife and Auto Trouble does not feature a lot of slapstick, but it offers a good example of Griffith's continuity editing as applied to comedy. A kitchen scene early in the film includes Collier, his wife, and her mother and brother briskly moving in and out of frame from shot to shot. Screen direction is maintained as the characters enter and exit frame, creating spatial clarity. A frantic chase concludes the film, again depending on screen direction to make it sensible as well as funny.

The Surf Girl (1916) and The Golf Nut (1927) are examples of Sennett's bare-bones plots defined by locations. The Surf Girl stars Fritz Schade and Raymond Griffith as lifeguards at a swimming pool. There is actually no "surf girl" in the film, only a series of gags held together by pace and locale. The pool is filled with swimmers who dive and fall into the water, splash around, and crash into each other. The Surf Girl also uses some of Sennett's favorite effects. The fast motion artificially accelerates the image to increase a sense of frenzy and humor. A fat man glides down a slide into the pool, displacing so much water that all the swimmers are hurled out, an effect accomplished through reverse motion. The Golf Nut features Billy Bevan and Vernon Dent in a film by Harry Edwards, who had returned to Sennett after Langdon fired him. A country club with a golf course provides the basis for a series of gags related to golf and a swimming pool. The Golf Nut helped Bevan, Dent, and Edwards to become one of Sennett's last successful comedy teams, leading to four more films together.

By Susan Doll

'Curses!' They Remarked
Producer: Mack Sennett for Keystone
Cast: Blackheart, Jr. (Chester Conklin), Ethel Rocks (Peggy Page)
1914 Black and White 10 mins.

Wife and Auto Trouble
Producer: Mack Sennett for Keystone-Triangle
Director: Dell Henderson and Eddie Cline
Writer: Roy Del Ruth
Cast: The Meek Husband (William Collier), The Dominant Wife (Blanche Payson), The Speedy Stenographer (Mae Busch)
1916 Black and White 14 mins.

The Surf Girl
Producer: Mack Sennett for Keystone-Triangle
Director: Harry Edwards
Cast: Captain Lifeguard (Fritz Schade), Assistant Lifeguard (Raymond Griffith)
1916 Black and White 20 mins.

Don't Weaken!
Producer: Mack Sennett for Mack Sennett Comedies
Director: Malcolm St. Clair
Cast: Professor Yonson, Dancing Master (Ford Sterling)
1920 Black and White 20 mins.

His Marriage Wow
Producer: Mack Sennett for Mack Sennett Comedies
Director: Harry Edwards
Writer: Arthur Ripley
Cast: The Groom Harry Hope (Harry Langdon), Prof. Looney McGlumm (Vernon Dent), The Bride Agnes Fisher (Natalie Kingston)
1925 Black and White 21 mins.

Fiddlesticks
Producer: Mack Sennett for Mack Sennett Comedies
Director: Harry Edwards
Writers: Frank Capra and Arthur Ripley
Cast: Harry Hogan (Harry Langdon), Prof. Von Tempo, the Junkman (Vernon Dent)
1927 Black and White 20 mins.

The Golf Nut
Producer: Mack Sennett for Mack Sennett Comedies
Director: Harry Edwards
Writers: Phil Whitman, Harry McCoy, Jefferson Moffitt
Cast: Billy Divott (Billy Bevan), Club President (Vernon Dent)
1927 Black and White 20 mins.
The Golf Nut

The Golf Nut

Mack Sennett and slapstick humor are frequently discussed in the same breath. Sennett conceived gags, directed shorts, and appeared as zany characters onscreen, innovating a style of physical humor that lives on in American comedy. And yet his greatest talent was likely not directing, writing, or performing: It was arguably his ability to discover and foster comic talent. Fans of silent comedy know that Sennett discovered or gave opportunity to a host of performers who became major stars, including Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Fatty Arbuckle, Harold Lloyd, and Harry Langdon. But, for every Chaplin or Lloyd, there was a Sterling or Conklin--a second tier of stars--who contributed their talents to Sennett's comedy shorts. Sennett also discovered directors and writers, including Harry Edwards, Henry Lehrman, Eddie Cline, Malcolm St. Clair, and Frank Capra. Sennett stopped directing in 1915 but continued to supervise the writing and editing of the shorts he produced. He founded Keystone in 1912, after learning to direct action at Biograph, where he followed the continuity editing techniques innovated by D.W. Griffith. In 1915, he joined with Griffith and producer Thomas Ince to form the distribution company Triangle. He left that organization in 1917, though he was forced to forfeit the name Keystone. He continued to produce shorts into the 1930s under the name Mack Sennett Comedies. Throughout the stages of his career, Sennett's approach to screen comedy remained constant. Most of his stable of comedians adopted a comic persona that was consistent from film to film. Performers often worked in pairs, playing best buddies, or a husband and wife. The pair had opposing physical characteristics and personalities. One might be short and the other tall; one could be skinny and the other fat; one a rube and the other a sophisticate. During the Keystone and Keystone-Triangle periods, directors and actors were given scenarios conceived by Sennett and his writers. The directors and actors interpreted the situations and gags, improvising the physical humor, or working it out during shooting. Sennett was fond of simple camera tricks to create a sense of speed, frenzy, or chaos. Chases were speeded up through undercranking the camera, which propelled characters and vehicles forward in fast motion. He also used reverse motion to un-do or reverse an action. Plots fell into three categories: There were conventional, familiar storylines, such as domestic dysfunction, or a budding romance, but the action would be loaded down with gags. The most complex storylines tended to be parodies of existing genres or directors, while the simplest plots consisted of a series of gags developed around a central location. Viewing the following comedy shorts from the early days through the end of the silent era reveals the Sennett style while showcasing the talents of his stable. Harry Langdon translated his sweetly innocent stage persona to the big screen at Mack Sennett's studio in the early 1920s, with the help of director Harry Edwards and writers Arthur Ripley and Frank Capra. During the 1920s, Sennett tried his hand at structured, situational narratives, and Edwards was hired (actually, re-hired) in 1924 to direct them. Edwards and Langdon formed such a bond while making The Luck o' the Foolish in 1924 that the comedian worked with no other director for the rest of his tenure with Sennett. Two of the team's best collaborations at Sennett were His Marriage Wow (1925) and Fiddlesticks (1927), partly because of Langdon's frequent costar, Vernon Dent. Typical of the Sennett style, the two had opposing comic personas: Dent's gruff, strong-willed characters contrasted well with the reticent Langdon. In His Marriage Wow, Dent plays crazed Professor McGlumm who fills Harry's head with doom and gloom stories about marriage before his upcoming vows. In the second reel, McGlumm takes Harry on a manic car ride before going back to the asylum. The car sequence was shot on Larchmont Avenue, a favorite location for Sennett's shorts. Sennett experimented with three-reelers during the 1920s, and Fiddlesticks, starring Langdon and Dent, began life as a three-reeler called "The Junkman." Langdon starred as a would-be musician thrown into the street by his family, with Dent playing the junkman who exploits him. After Langdon left Sennett in 1926, taking Edwards, Capra, and Ripley with him, Sennett released the film as the two-reeler Fiddlesticks. Ford Sterling and Chester Conklin don't have the name recognition of Harry Langdon, but both were major stars for Keystone. A former circus clown, Sterling worked with Sennett at Biograph as early as 1911. When the director departed to form his own company, the actor left with him, starring in Keystone's first release. One of Sennett's first successful comedians, and initially part of the infamous Keystone Kops, Sterling was the most exaggerated performer in Sennett's stable in terms of characterizations and physical movements. Around 1913, he was cast as the mustache-twirling villain in A Strong Revenge, a comic send-up of old-fashioned Victorian melodrama. His exaggerated approach to comedy suited the parodic nature of the material, and Sterling gained stardom playing over-the-top comic villains. Success drove him to leave Keystone for Universal to star in his own series of comedies, but the series was not memorable. He soon returned to Keystone. He left again in 1917 for Fox but was back in the fold the following year. By that time, Sterling was considered part of an older generation of performers, and his comic style seemed old-fashioned. Don't Weaken! (1920), a short starring Sterling as a dance instructor challenged to a boxing match, was shot in his final months at Sennett. He ended up at Poverty Row's Special Comedies Corporation, and, the following decade, he appeared in a few talkies. But, when he lost a leg in an accident, his career--which was dependent on physical slapstick--was over. He died in 1939, forgotten and unsung. 'Curses!' They Remarked (1914) stars Chester Conklin as a reprobate who kidnaps an heiress. Like Sterling and other pioneering comic actors, his career began in the circus, but Conklin had worked as an acrobat. He knew how to push his body to its limits in his stunts and gags, which pleased Sennett. Conklin also started out as a Kop, but he quickly developed an annoying, know-it-all character called Droppington for a series of shorts. In "Curses," Conklin plays an outright scoundrel for the first time, paving the way for him to replace Sterling as Keystone's resident villain. Many of Sennett's comic actors are completely unknown to modern audiences, but they reflect the producer's dependence on comic personas and familiar plotlines. In Wife and Auto Trouble (1916), William Collier stars in a domestic comedy about a hen-pecked husband and his controlling wife. Collier made three films for Keystone, playing a sophisticated, debonair white-collar type. Here, the diminutive Collier played opposite tall, big-boned Blanche Payson. Payson was a former Arizona policewoman who joined Keystone in 1914-1915. Her size and over-bearing persona made her a good character actress, and she was in demand until the 1930s. Wife and Auto Trouble does not feature a lot of slapstick, but it offers a good example of Griffith's continuity editing as applied to comedy. A kitchen scene early in the film includes Collier, his wife, and her mother and brother briskly moving in and out of frame from shot to shot. Screen direction is maintained as the characters enter and exit frame, creating spatial clarity. A frantic chase concludes the film, again depending on screen direction to make it sensible as well as funny. The Surf Girl (1916) and The Golf Nut (1927) are examples of Sennett's bare-bones plots defined by locations. The Surf Girl stars Fritz Schade and Raymond Griffith as lifeguards at a swimming pool. There is actually no "surf girl" in the film, only a series of gags held together by pace and locale. The pool is filled with swimmers who dive and fall into the water, splash around, and crash into each other. The Surf Girl also uses some of Sennett's favorite effects. The fast motion artificially accelerates the image to increase a sense of frenzy and humor. A fat man glides down a slide into the pool, displacing so much water that all the swimmers are hurled out, an effect accomplished through reverse motion. The Golf Nut features Billy Bevan and Vernon Dent in a film by Harry Edwards, who had returned to Sennett after Langdon fired him. A country club with a golf course provides the basis for a series of gags related to golf and a swimming pool. The Golf Nut helped Bevan, Dent, and Edwards to become one of Sennett's last successful comedy teams, leading to four more films together. By Susan Doll 'Curses!' They Remarked Producer: Mack Sennett for Keystone Cast: Blackheart, Jr. (Chester Conklin), Ethel Rocks (Peggy Page) 1914 Black and White 10 mins. Wife and Auto Trouble Producer: Mack Sennett for Keystone-Triangle Director: Dell Henderson and Eddie Cline Writer: Roy Del Ruth Cast: The Meek Husband (William Collier), The Dominant Wife (Blanche Payson), The Speedy Stenographer (Mae Busch) 1916 Black and White 14 mins. The Surf Girl Producer: Mack Sennett for Keystone-Triangle Director: Harry Edwards Cast: Captain Lifeguard (Fritz Schade), Assistant Lifeguard (Raymond Griffith) 1916 Black and White 20 mins. Don't Weaken! Producer: Mack Sennett for Mack Sennett Comedies Director: Malcolm St. Clair Cast: Professor Yonson, Dancing Master (Ford Sterling) 1920 Black and White 20 mins. His Marriage Wow Producer: Mack Sennett for Mack Sennett Comedies Director: Harry Edwards Writer: Arthur Ripley Cast: The Groom Harry Hope (Harry Langdon), Prof. Looney McGlumm (Vernon Dent), The Bride Agnes Fisher (Natalie Kingston) 1925 Black and White 21 mins. Fiddlesticks Producer: Mack Sennett for Mack Sennett Comedies Director: Harry Edwards Writers: Frank Capra and Arthur Ripley Cast: Harry Hogan (Harry Langdon), Prof. Von Tempo, the Junkman (Vernon Dent) 1927 Black and White 20 mins. The Golf Nut Producer: Mack Sennett for Mack Sennett Comedies Director: Harry Edwards Writers: Phil Whitman, Harry McCoy, Jefferson Moffitt Cast: Billy Divott (Billy Bevan), Club President (Vernon Dent) 1927 Black and White 20 mins.

Quotes

Trivia