DVD - Max Davidson Comedies

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  • Regular price SFr. 25.00


DVD 1:

  • Why Girls Say No 1927, 23'
  • Jewish Prudence 1927, 21'
  • Don't Tell Everything 1927, 23'
  • Should Second Husbands Come First? 1927, 21'
  • Flaming Fathers 1927, 25'
  • Hurdy Gurdy 1929, 20'
  • New scores by Joachim Bärenz, Christian Roderburg and Günter A. Buchwald
  • 24-page bilingual Booklet with essays by Richard W. Bann, Steve Massa, Stewart Tryster and Stefan Drössler

DVD 2:

  • Call of the Cuckoo 1927, 19'
  • Love 'em and Feed 'em 1927, 9', tinted
  • Pass the Gravy 1928, 25'
  • Dumb Daddies 1928, 15'
  • Came the Dawn 1928, 17', tinted
  • The Boy Friend 1928, 20'
  • The Itching Hour 1931, 19'
  • New scores by Joachim Bärenz, Christian Roderburg and Stephen Horne
  • Scripts, cutting continuities, stills and lobby cards of all the lost Max Davidson comedies as ROM features

Edited by: Filmmuseum München
DVD authoring: Ralph Schermbach
DVD supervision: Stefan Drössler

First edition March 2011, Second edition September 2011

 

About Max Davidson
Squinting through his beady eyes, Max Davidson peered out at a world in which he was forever bedeviled by incompetent tradesmen, larcenous businessmen, and most of all... his own family. Playing an old world Jew adrift in a land of goyim, Davidson was a comedian whose stock-in-trade was the stereotypical European Jew. His full beard, shaggy hair, bowler hat, and dark clothes from an earlier century, marked him as an immigrant. His characterization was a catalogue of hand gestures, winces, beard strokes, and shrugs. He played Ginsbergs, Cohens, Gimplewarts, and Weinbergs. He portrayed rag men, junk men, pawnbrokers, and most often, tailors. Jokes about stinginess, greed, and pork were all part his comic repertoire. The character was not original. Comic and/or villainous Jews had precedents in literature and stage stretching back to Shylock and beyond.

A case could easily be made that Davidson and his films should be tossed into the "Moran & Mack" dustbin of justly forgotten ethnic comedians. But the actor could and often did transcend that genre. There's something more to his character that attracts us.

He played a fish out of water. Davidson's character was struggling to adjust to mainstream America and his comedy grew out of the gulf between his old world manners and the new world that his children were born into. It was a tension that millions of Americans in the 1920's were either experiencing or witnessing. Between 1877 and 1927 the Jewish population in the U.S. rose from 229,000 to 4,228,000. The earlier wave of Jewish immigrants were succeeding in various trades and professions, but later arrivals (most of whom came from Poland or Russia) struggled to rise from utter poverty in urban ghettos. In a 1927 feature, Pleasure Before Business, Max makes a bad bet at the racetrack. His line, "If my bet ain't canceled, we'll be immigrants again.", must have resonated with millions of new Americans.

A small man (5'4" and 130 lbs.), Davidson was not an athletic comedian, but used his face and hands to garner most of his laughs. Rarely the perpetrator of mayhem, his forte was in reacting to the chaos around him. It's no wonder he found his artistic home at Hal Roach Studios, where directors knew that an actor's reaction to a gag could get a bigger laugh than the gag itself.

Max Davidson is best remembered for his wonderful series of shorts made for Hal Roach between 1927 and 1929. Like much of the Roach product of the era (or at least those shorts other than Laurel & Hardy's or Our Gang's) are lost. But surviving gems like Jewish Prudence, Don't Tell Everything, Should Second Husbands Come First? (all 1927) and Pass the Gravy (1928) rank among the funniest two-reelers ever made.

Robert Farr