Turner Classic Movies: The Hollywood Shorts Story

08 May

Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story is a feature film produced by TCM in 2002, which was directed by John Griffin. I feel that this goes a step further than simply showing a video marathon on television. It is truly education on the history of shorts and it is done in a very interesting way.

The documentary style film follows the concept of the shorts subject through time. You see the days of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, followed by silent comedy and wartime films. As the film takes a walk through time, it pauses to highlight and give details about various shorts series and studios that have been successful through time.

Originally the film was a book, written by Leonard Maltin titled The Great Movie Shorts: Those Wonderful One- and Two-reelers of the Thirties and Forties. I haven’t read the book, but I really enjoyed TCM’s rendition.

Throughout the film, notable shorts subjects are put into the limelight, starting with the Hal Roach Shorts. The film shows both silent films and films produced with sound, including clips from several different films.

Then, we move on to Warner Bros Vitaphone and take a bit of time learning of it’s history in Brooklyn. The film also highlights the highly vaudevillian side of the studio, which I thought was interesting.

The final major staple covered is the MGM Studio. The films they chose to feature are a set that I wrote about earlier – The film takes clips from the Dogville Comedies.

This, complemented with the narration of Chevy Chase leaves little to be desired, but the film doesn’t end there. They also show clips from the early careers of stars like Judy Garland, Humphrey Bogart, and Lucille Ball – all before they were famous. It was interesting to see that side of the film industry.


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