Book Review: “Pokes & Jabbs: The Before, During And After Of The Vim Films Corporation” By Rob Stone

Sometimes a silent film book comes along that you never knew you needed, about silent era performers you hadn’t looked at too closely, and somehow, that book clocks in at a mighty 480 pages of historical info, trivia, and rare photos. And, it has a fantastic cover. (The designer is the talented Marlene Weisman, who also did covers for Slapstick Divas and various Undercrank Productions releases.)

Pokes & Jabbs: The Before, During And After Of The Vim Films Corporation by film archivist and historian Rob Stone is just such a book, and it’s not only a mighty trove of information but certainly a labor of love, first taking shape during the research process for Stone’s 1996 book Laurel or Hardy: The Solo Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver “Babe” Hardy. (Ollie was in quite a few of the Pokes and Jabbs films, and starred in Vim’s “Plump and Runt” comedies.) Historian Steve Massa points out in the forward of Pokes & Jabbs that this research was begun in the pre-Media History Digital Library days, when–gasp!–you had to travel to archives around the country to find surviving copies of trade magazines. This is a fact that you’ll quickly learn to appreciate once you take in the hundreds–and I do mean hundreds–of film stats, synopses, and contemporary reviews packed into this book. 

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Arthur Housman, Gloom Dispeller

Annnnd it’s blogathon time again! A hearty welcome to all readers of the What a Character! Blogathon, hosted by Outspoken and Freckled, Paula’s Cinema Club, and Once Upon a Screen. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post–there’s plenty more great articles to enjoy over at the host sites, and I hope you also take a peek at a few of my other articles. As always, feel free to leave comments!

Back in the old days, there were some actors who weren’t exactly leading men or leading ladies and never made it to the threshold of major stardom. But they made their mark on Hollywood–and pop culture–all the same.

These were the character actors, people who were so good at playing certain “types” that they made careers out of it. Cartoon-ish types in particular were staples of early Hollywood comedy, where anything and everything was up for laughs. There were country bumpkins, old maids, bumbling fat men, Irish policemen, female impersonators, “Dutch” or German comics, fearsome matrons, French boulevardiers–and, of course, funny drunks.

The funniest drunk of them all? I think it’s no contest–Arthur Housman

*Hic*

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