The Better 'Ole

I saw this film recently at the National Film Theatre. It was made in Hollywood in 1926, and is pretty well forgotten today, despite being enormously popular at the time. It stars Syd Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin's brother) as 'Old Bill', a character created in newspaper cartoons by Bruce Bairnsfather. The most famous of these showed Bill and another soldier standing in a shell-holl in the middle of a World War One battlefield: Bill is saying: 'Well, if you knows of a better 'ole, go to it'.

The film is an excellent silent comedy, well up to the standard of many better-remembered films. There is one delirious sequence involving Bill, and another soldier inside a pantomime horse. They are taking part, reluctantly, in a daft play for the troops, in a French village close to enemy lines, and manage to muck it up in various predictable ways. Most comedians would have stopped there, but the gag is built up and built up for about twenty minutes.


Posted: Fri - May 5, 2006 at 08:37 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM