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Lizzies of the Field (dir. Mack Sennett, 1924)

Lizzies of the Field (dir. Mack Sennett, 1924)
Mack Sennett – whose real name was Michael Sinott – was born on January 17, 1884 in Danville, Québec. A foundry worker then a member of the chorus, he approaches music halls and finds a job in 1908 at the Biograph as an actor and the assistant of a director he reveres: D. W. Griffith.In 1911, he goes behind the camera and directs his first short comedy films, then founds his own production company, The Keystone Film Company, in 1912. He surrounded himself with many promising artists whom he made into stars: Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Edgar Kennedy, Slim Summerville, Harry Swain, Chester Conklin, and also Ben Turpin…With them, he invents a revolutionary cinema in which exterior signs of wealth (cars, houses, luxury establishments) are systematically destroyed in front of policemen, each cop more incompetent than the last. He ingeniously attacks the sacrosanct American values: work, order, money and moral principles. His jubilant films in which one gag follows another at incredible speed really allowed his already won over audience to unwind. Sennett is involved in all the stages of creating his films: he's the producer, director, sometimes an actor, and finally the editor, cutting the scenes that he believes lack rhythm. In 1914, he gives a screen debut to a young, promising English actor, a certain Charles Chaplin. He makes 34 short films with him and one feature film, which starts off his career… a rather successful one at that. On July 20, 1915, Sennett starts a partnership with Griffith and a man who produces westerns, Thomas Ince, and creates the company Triangle Films, which gives him much greater financial and technical means. In 1917, he and his team go to Paramount, where he makes 2 two-reel films (20 min.) per week. He is then at the apogee of his career. In 1923, he signs a contract with Pathé, which will last until 1928. He will then discover two new talents: Billy Bevan, the hero of Lizzies of the Field, and the extraordinary comic, Harry Langdon.But Sennett's golden age ends in 1928, when talking films intrude on burlesque cinema. His productions become mediocre, talkative and are cut up with musical numbers. They are a far cry from his explosive reels of the '20s, and the public slowly looses interest. After Paramount folds in 1935, a penniless Sennett returns to Canada before coming back to the cinema one final time in 1939 as an associate producer for Fox. He dies on November 5, 1960 in Woodland Hills, California, leaving behind him more than 1,500 films, among which is the hilarious Lizzies of the Field, still just as devastatingly funny and irresistible…

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