Well, here’s a review that’s not a review, folks! Because I find this film to be review-proof. It pretty much boils down to two kids getting a hold of a doctor’s training skeleton and using it to scare adults. With nothing else to hang onto it – and that’s saying a lot since many of the horror-comedies reviewed here have very little plot – I find it impossible to give this film a review!
Instead, I’ll let my friend, silent film historian Steve Massa weigh in on the behind-the-scenes details:
“Matty Roubert and Baby Early were the Powers Kids who in 1912 and 1913 tried to set their grandfather on fire and laid waste to a photographer's studio in shorts like INJUNS and HAVING THEIR PICTURE TOOK (both 1913) as the Powers Film Co.'s forerunners of Our Gang. Here they are in THE SKELETON ('12) which shows what happens when they get a hold of the titular item. The adults include Charles Manley, Mai Wells, Katherine Griffith, and Joe Burke, and was directed by Harry C. Mathews.”
Furthermore, I’ll let that great Hollywood trade publication of the early 1900s, teens and twenties called Moving Picture World summarize the film as they did when it was first released:
“Doctor Tilton, a well-known professor, orders a skeleton, so that he can better demonstrate to his students the various parts of the human anatomy. When the same is delivered by the express company, his two children, Matty and Early, are with him when he unpacks it, and again the scheming minds of the youngsters devise new plans to further test the patience of their elders. The incidents leading to the final downfall of both the skeleton and the children cause many a hearty laugh, as this time the children suffer more than the patience of the grown-ups.”
You can decide for yourself how hearty those laughs are if you’d like, by watching what’s left of the film. This particular version has a wonderfully intricate original score by composer Pablo Salazar, who gaciously granted permission to share this version of the film with his soundtrack.
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
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