STOPPING THE SHOW: Film Photography in Mack Sennett Comedies (1917-1933)


This book – part of my doctoral thesis – sheds light on the practice of inserting show-stopping spectacle in slapstick comedies produced by Mack Sennett after the frantic Keystone years that made him the legendary King of Comedy. These show-stopping attractions boost production values by introducing cinematographic novelties and high-brow photography for classy acts appealing to an informed and fashionable audience. An analysis of stylistic and technical features unravels the tactics of updating, upgrading, and uplifting slapstick comedy, responding to evolutions in the larger world of mass-entertainment and consumption.
Referring to special effects techniques, lighting, fashion, documentary filmmaking, cheesecake photography, and natural color processes, Hilde D’haeyere studies the attraction of girls, color, and news in the context of comedy.

Text and concept: Hilde D'haeyere
Book design: Sophie Nys and Hilde D'haeyere
Softcover, 26 x 19,5 cm, 280 pages, 476 illustrations, in English
September 2012
ISBN 978-907083089-2

The publication is not commercially available, but the following libraries hold a copy of the book:


- Margaret Herrick library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), Beverly Hills, CA
- library of the school of arts - Royal Academy of Fine Arts, University College Ghent (BE)
- library of Ghent University (BE)
- library of CINEMATEK, Brussels (BE)


Earlier versions of two chapters are published as:


- "Splashes of Fun and Beauty," in: Rob King and Tom Paulus (eds), Slapstick Comedy, AFI Film Reader (Routledge, 2010).


- "Technicolor-Multicolor-Sennett-Color," in: Simon Brown, Liz Watkins, and Sarah Street (eds), Color and the Moving Image, AFI Film Reader (Routledge, 2012).


- "Slapstick on Slapstick: Mack Sennett's Metamovies Revisit The Keystone Film Company," in: Rob King (ed.), “Early Hollywood and the Archive,” Film History, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2014.

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     Mack Sennett - Bell&Howell (©AMPAS) 
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     A Small Town Idol, 1921 (©AMPAS) 
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     Love at First Flight, 1928 (©AFA) 
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     The Campus Vamp, 1928 
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     Cyclorama, n.d. (©AMPAS) 
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     Trail of the Swordfish, 1931 (16mm) 
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     (Routledge, 2010) 
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     (Routledge, 2012) 
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