18 January 2019 | boblipton
George Ade Was Onto Something
Rod La Rocque has spent years working hard and it pays off. When his boss has a heart attack, Rod's put in charge. He looks up from the accounting books and sees Margaret Clayton, hash-slinging daughter of his landlord and adores her. She adores his bank balance, so they get married. As time goes on and her social ambition rises, she settles on tony Paul Harvey. One day Rod comes home late from the office. Guess what he finds?
George Ade's Fables took an honest if dyspeptic look at the social disruptions going on. Miss Clayton is not a vamp, she's a gold digger, and the lazy aristocratic classes -- if they ever existed in great numbers in this country -- were giving way to the new go-getter.
I've complained about how Ade's language has not aged well, but is there a brisker, brighter way of expressing this thought: "Joe believed Man was put on this Earth to be the Getter for the Mother of his Children, whether they had any or not."?
I think not.
Ade's fables were social comedies, pitched at the cynical urban dweller. His audience looked to get ahead and tried to get the latest, whether in attitudes or language. His individual expression may have been of the moment, and his choice of comedy may have marked it as less than it might have been if offered as tragedy. Even worse, it's comedy of manners, which is always set for a contemporary audience.
For the moment, Ade had the pulse and measure of that audience, and didn't need the bizarre costumes and behavior of Sennett and other slapstick masters. Ordinary people were just as foolish as white-faced clowns and often funnier. That's why within a year Harold Lloyd abandoned his "Lonesome Luke" character and began his long series as his normal-seeming but often bizarre character that became a classic.