UPDATE 7/18/19: And the winner of the Charley Bowers Blu-ray set is….
Congratulations David! We will be in touch. I hope you enjoy these Charley Bowers shorts as much as I do! And thank you to all who entered–this was a popular giveaway!
Calling all silent comedy fans!! Flicker Alley has a very exciting new release: a Blu-ray set of 17 shorts by the one and only Charley Bowers! And when I say “one and only,” I’m not just using a cliché–obscure comedian Bowers was truly one of the silent era’s most, err, creative individuals. Not familiar with this highly unique genius? (Admittedly, most people on the planet are not. Sadly.) Allow me to give you a brief introduction:
A former cartoonist, Bowers became the head animator for the 1910s Mutt and Jeff cartoon series before becoming fascinated with stop motion animation. In the mid-1920s he created a series of comedy shorts starring himself as a vaguely Keatonesque character with a love of crazy inventions. These shorts were basically showcases for his “Bowers process,” as he grandly dubbed his stop motion animation skills. In the trades they were advertised as “Whirlwind Comedies.”
And what a whirlwind of marvelous imagery Bowers created. Here’s what I wrote about his work in my article “The Quirky Charm of Charley Bowers” for Forgotten Comedians Month:
Loopy, inventive, and cheery, his “Whirlwind Comedies” are surprisingly easy for a silent era newbie to enjoy (although I’d save There It Is for…later). Bowers’s odd creatures, crazy machines and silly stop-motion gags have a way of sticking in your mind when more conventional slapstick can quickly fade. I have fuzzy memories of various Snub Pollard or Billy Bevan shorts, but the image of Bowers’s swarm of tiny Model Ts newly-hatched from eggs is as clear as a bell. The shorts are also some of the era’s most unusual time capsules, drawing on the Twenties’ fascination with machinery and the labor-saving devices and showcasing the whimsy that still pervaded the humor, comic strips, and stories of the time.
So if you’d like to see those tiny Model Ts hatching from eggs, or watch live cats growing from pussywillow branches, or meet an odd little bug named MacGregor–all via the wonders of 1920s stop motion–then boy oh boy, is this the film set for you!
Aside from the fun of the animation, the shorts themselves are delightfully imaginative and well paced, forgotten masterpieces if you ask me. Having been a fan of Bowers for years (my first visit to a film festival was mainly to attend a rare program of his shorts!), I couldn’t be happier that Flicker Alley is putting out this new set. From their website:
Forgotten for decades, a few of [Bowers’s] films were miraculously rediscovered in the late 1960s by archivist Raymond Borde of the Toulouse Cinémathèque in France. Over the past ten years, thanks to additional materials from the Library of Congress, Národní filmový archiv, EYE Film Institute, Cinémathèque française, MoMA, and many other archives and collectors throughout the world, the legacy of Charley Bowers has been brought back to life using the most recent restoration technologies. Lobster Films scanned the best available sources with their original intertitles, and performed an extensive digital restoration of each short. Featuring recent additions to the previous 2015 release, The Extraordinary World of Charley Bowers includes new scores from Donald Sosin and Neil Brand.
The shorts included are The Extra Quick Lunch (1917); A.W.O.L. (1918); Egged On (1926), one of my favorite comedy shorts ever by the way; He Done His Best (1926); Fatal Footsteps (1926); Now You Tell One (1926); A Wild Roomer (1926); Many a Slip (1927); Nothing Doing (1927); the wildly surreal There It Is (1928); Say Ah-h! (1928); Whoozit (1928); It’s a Bird (1930); Believe It or Don’t (1935); A Sleepless Night (1940); Wild Oysters (1940); and Oil Can and Does (1940).
And of course, there’s bonus materials too:
- Looking for Charley Bowers: A short documentary by Christophe Coutens on the resurrection of Charley Bowers’ career in France.
- Image Gallery: A slideshow presentation featuring rare production stills and behind-the-scenes photographs.
- Souvenir Booklet: Featuring an essay written by film historian and author Sean Axmaker.
Intrigued? Take a look at this preview:
So! Since I’m one of the biggest Bowers fans you’ll ever meet (I know, I know, you meet so many) I had to share my joy about this set. So I’m going to be conducting a drawing and giving away a copy right here on Silent-ology!
To enter, simply leave a comment below! One lucky winner will receive a Blu-ray copy of The Extraordinary World of Charley Bowers from Flicker Alley. I’ll be conducting the drawing next week and will post the results at the top of this page. I’ll then get the winner in touch with Flicker Alley–easy peasy!
And now–comment away!
I never heard of Charley Bowers until recently when Flicker Alley announced this release. Definitely be interested in checking this out!
It’ll be well worth it, for sure!
I must admit that I have never heard of him!
Very intrigued about his unique imaginative take on the world around him!
I’m excited I was able to introduce you to him–even briefly!
Awesome! I’ll have to try this Blu-ray out
I’d love to win this great Blu-ray set. Here’s hoping.
You are hereby entered!
Had a chance to see my first Bowers film with live music by a jazz band recent. A real treat for any silent film lover. Looking forward to this set!
That’s wonderful! I still can’t believe how lucky I was to see his work on the big screen.
Looking forward to discovering Mr. Bowers. Thank you!
Your entry has been noted! 🙂
This is someone I’d not heard of. Looks interesting.
His work is worth exploring, for sure!
I love what I’ve seen of Bowers. A new blu-ray sounds great!
I SO want this!!! 🤞
Best of luck! 🙂
Looks fascinating – love to win it!
You’re hereby entered!
I’ve never heard of him. I am, however a fan of stop motion so this would be a joy to watch.
Oh if you love stop motion you’ll LOVE this set–guaranteed!
I had never heard of him until your mention earlier- would love to check this out!
Good luck! 🙂
Film is essentially a ‘visual medium’ so the idea of a silent film is a wonderful concept. Especially an animated one!
And these are some of the most creative animated films I’ve seen, too!
I admit I have never heard of Charley Bowers either. Definitely interested in checking this out! Keep up the good work Lea!
Thanks Catherine–you’re hereby entered!
Count me in!!!!! I am highly intrigued!!!!!
Great! Thanks for entering!!
Glad there is an interest in restoration and distribution of silent films. I did read your previous article about Charley Bowers. Looking forward to seeing his films in one medium or another. My resource of recent years is TCM.
Thank heavens for TCM! 🙂
As a life member of The Citizens United Against Ambiguity, this release by our most honored member (may he rest in peace) is the penultimate event in our lifetimes. Thank you for posting this.
My pleasure, good Citizen!
Sounds great! And your recommendations have never steered me wrong! Count me in for the drawing! Thank you for all of your time/effort in sharing all this information! 🙂
You’re welcome–thanks for entering!
Seen just a little of Bowers, but he is quite interesting and entertaining. I am anxious to learn more.
I don’t think I have ever seen one of Bowers’ films, but they really look fascinating. This set looks like loads of fun!
It will be, absolutely! It has some of the most whimsical and weird imagery I’ve seen in silent films.
Coincidentally, I was reading your bio on Charley Bowers this last weekend. A very interesting character indeed. Count me in!
That IS a coincidence–I like it! Thanks for entering!
I have the old Bowers set from 15 years ago and am glad that his films are getting re-released on bluray. Looking forward to this release since it contains many films that I have not yet seen.
I’m excited about that, too! The more Bowers the better.
This certainly does look unique!
That’s for sure! Thanks for entering.
I definitely agree that he was the one and only. I can’t wait to see it given the Flicker Alley treatment.
I’m a huge fan of silent films; comedies in particular. I watched a Harold Lloyd flick just last night! I’ll be happy to add this to my collection whether I win or not. Thanks for this!
My mom bought me the old DVD set years ago because she thought I would like the animation…and she was right! Looking forward to an upgrade!
I’m excited to see what’s in store! Flicker Alley has been awesome lately at releasing really great stuff. The hits just keep coming and I love it!
Sweet! Charley Bowers is amazing, and as an animator in training Id love to get a set like this for study (and fun, too)!
I am so excited about this set!
This set sounds very intriguing. So pick me already!
Love silent comedy, yet have never heard of Bowers! I want to rectify this immediately!
Like many have said below, the excitement about this release has much to do with reintroducing someone virtually unknown to new audiences. Making this contest all the better.
Already bought this, but would love to win a copy for my godfather who teaches a history of animation class.
Lea, thank you having this contest! I always enjoy your articles (and your comments on facebook). Bowers is a fascinating figure who has slowly emerged from obscurity. This set will hopefully win him more fans!
I already have this but I would love to win a copy for my godfather, he teaches a History of Animation course at a Montreal university.
Looks like a fantastic set! And I don’t believe I’ve seen one of the films! Will be correcting that one way or another soon.
Oh I love this guy. I can’t wait to see the new scans!
As a professional animator and silent film enthusiast, I would love a copy. It looks like a fantastic set.
I have the old Image DVD set from 2004. I’ve no doubt this Flicker Alley blu-ray release will be a worthwhile upgrade.
I follow Flicker Alley on FB and have been mightily interested in this set since they started writing about it. Unfortunately the money isn’t really there right now so here’s holding my thumbs! 😉
(Btw, I live in Sweden, so if that excludes me from the competition it’s OK)
I think it’s an all-region set, but I’ll see if being in Sweden will make a difference! Thanks for letting me know.
I think most (all?) of their releases is region free, but if not I’ve only had region free players since I bought my first DVD player 20+ years ago 🙂
I was thinking more along the lines of International shipping being too expensive.
Thank you for checking up on it!
If it wasn’t for the likes of Flicker Alley and their astute restorations and silent film choices we would be at at a cinematic loss. Thanks for finding foreign and domestic classics for our viewing pleasure.
Is this the same as the French blu-ray set? I’ve been a fan since seeing his films at MOMA.
It’s similar, yes, although it looks like there’s a couple new films and a more complete MANY A SLIP.
I’d love to join the ranks of the many many many Charley Bowers fans out there, but sad to say I do need a healthy education on the gentleman so this would be fab!
I’ve never heard of Bowers either…really intrigued. Looks like pure cinema to me 🙂
Cool! Count me in for the contest!
A man ahead of his time
I’m excited about this set! I’ve known about Bowers since I first saw him on the old Kino “Slapstick Encyclopedia” VHS set…! Can’t wait to get it!
I’ve been fortunate to see some of his films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, where I’m a docent and volunteer. This release looks amazing and I’m excited to see it finally!
I was in the audience that day at the San Fransisco Silent Film Festival! My first festival experience. 🙂
I first saw IT’S A BIRD (1930) about 15 years ago. I’d love to see a lot more of Charley Bowers.
I truly love the Flicker silent series and their film noirs too – so I am very curious about this set since I know absolutely nothing about it!