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A forgotten comic from the Hal Roach Studios provides many laughs in this rare two reel comedy.
By the time of this 1927 release, Max Davidson had long established himself as one of the favorite ethnic characters in screen comedy. His two reel comedies for Hal Roach are rich with comic invention and freshness. This film was put together at the Hal Roach Studios and was directed by Stan Laurel and Leo McCarey and it certainly shows. There is typical Laurel humor here as crowds gather on a beach to see the frenzy between Max and an angry father, then Max and an angry husband and finally, Max and a dog, who has ripped off Max's bathing suit. This sequence was used and re worked the same year in Putting Pants On Phillip, which featured Oliver Hardy and Laurel, who were recently teamed together. This lively short was mostly shot on location at Venice Beach in California. Max has been informed by his wife, (Lillian Leighton), that he must make sure their daughter, (Martha Sleeper),does not elope with her boyfriend, Rollo, ( Edward Clayton). In order to fool father, the couple take him to the amusement pier where all sorts of trouble starts to brew. All through the visit, Max is chased by a policeman, (Tiny Sandford) who never quite gets his man. Current residents of this coastal community will recognize several landscapes. There is plenty of Jewish humor here as Max Davidson specialized in this brand of visual comedy. A very rare film to see, a recent print, originally printed by Kodak in the 30's, came into my possession, allowing me to comment on it here. I am happy to report that it wasn't a disappointment by any standard. Flaming Fathers is a funny film that holds its audience from the first moment to the last. By the time sound came in, Max found it hard to work. Loyal to his former star, Hal Roach tried to feature Max whenever he could but there just wasn't much for him to do. His 1937 photograph in the first Academy Players directory shows how sad he looked at that time. Pity for Max Davidson, though forgotten today, was one of the bright spots on the bill in the days when audiences listened with their eyes.
- Dec 7, 1999
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