Fun Size Review: His First Flame (1927)

This is a film made up of Harry Langdon routines cobbled together into a feature in order to cash in on Langdon’s then-new star power. But all of that being said, is it any good?

It definitely has its moments, particularly when Langdon is given a moment to breathe and let his signature slow motion comedic skills play out. However, the story is disjointed and the seams show terribly. It’s worth seeing if you’re a Langdon fan (and I am) but not really great as an introduction. (Try The Strong Man.)

How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.

Puts out the fire, gets the girl, etc.

Read my full-length review here.

If it were a dessert it would be: Peanut Butter Whoopee Pies. Prefab as it comes but if you like this kind of thing, it’s the kind of thing you like.

Availability: There is a release available from Grapevine but I have not viewed it. My version is found on Lost and Found: The Harry Langdon Collection, which I love but which is extremely out of print.

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4 Comments

  1. Andrew Holliday

    Thanks for the Langdon reminder. My introduction to silents (‘mutes’?) was as a child via one of those long gone TV series that compiled silent slapstick bits and pieces together (it was called Golden Silents and had the advantage of recording the genuine laughter of an audience in a theatre watching the same footage), and seeing Langdon, with no expectations was something I can still remember well; he seemed to come from or exist in a universe slightly different to the one every other comedy I’d seen was in. Still does. And I was hooked.

    I’ve since watched a couple of his features with friends who were carrying that Chaplin framework (possibly Capra framework) expectation – and it certainly works against seeing what’s really on screen – you can’t accuse someone of failing to be a good Chaplin clone if he’s not trying to be a Chaplin clone (or do exactly whatever it was Capra wanted). I think Langdon’s biggest problem is that he’s hard to pigeon-hole in advance, although people try to, when he’s really his own unique niche – and no-one has ever really followed in his footsteps (I get the Langdon/Laurel similarities – Zenobia makes sense on paper – but those similarities are largely superficial). Watch a Harold Lloyd film (especially the features) and you’re pretty much watching the template for almost all mainstream Hollywood comedy to this day – so ‘getting’ what’s on screen is easy. Langdon doesn’t have any reference points like that. It’s not that he’s dated, so much as he’s just…er…different.

    I seem to have had fortuitous timing with my DVD purchases over the years – as everything I have by Langdon appears to be out of print! Musty Suffer and Marvel Perez are available, but Langdon’s films – and the Arbuckle box set the world should have had decades ago (if only to set some records straight) aren’t. It’s not just Langdon’s universe that is a little weird…..

    1. Movies Silently

      Yes, exactly so. He had this babyish persona but he also fancied himself a Casanova and it all will make sense while watching but it’s difficult to describe in advance. As for the idea of the Chaplin framework, that’s definitely down to Capra because he kept declaring that Langdon was determined to supersede Chaplin. The thing is, what Chaplin had is what just about every filmmaker dreams of: absolute creative freedom and the money to do it any way they like. By that logic, any independent director is a Chaplin imitator.

      Langdon is just so delightful! A little sad, a little elfin, a little weird, a little languid, a little naive, a little lusty, just this strange and unique persona.

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