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  • Alice Howell stars as Cinderella--a lady who has almost nothing to do with the classic French tale. The first thing you'll notice about her is her amazingly bizarre hairstyle. The next thing you may notice is that the film isn't all that funny. Now I am NOT saying it's bad or a waste of time--it just doesn't have all that many gags and one of the gags involving spiked punch isn't done well (there isn't nearly enough booze in it to make anyone drunk--especially that fast).

    The film starts off with Cinderella working at a diner. She seems to be doing an amazing job, so naturally her boss fires her. Needing a job, she agrees to be a cook for a rich family. However, soon after this, the family is in a panic--their snooty friends will be upset to find out the Count and Countess de Bunco have canceled. As a last resort, they ask Cinderella and their butler to pretend to be royalty but end up doing a rather lousy job of playing the parts.

    By the way, in a cute scene between Cinderella getting fired and being hired as a cook, there are many ladies who chase her. Look carefully and you can see that some of them are obviously guys in drag!
  • When the expected noble guests of honor are late for a party, social-climbing host Rose Burkhardt has cook Alice Howell and butler Dick Smith pretend to be anticipated aristocrats.

    CINDERELLA CINDERS is probably the best known of Alice Howell's short comedies -- a situation which the producers of THE ALICE HOWELL COLLECTION hope to remedy. It was sold in 16 and 8 millimeter prints by Blackhawk Films for many years, which means that good copies exist.

    It is also very funny, with a hash house scene harking back to Miss Howell's Keystone days, a race to get a good job that involves roller skates, and a funny drunk bit by Alice and Dick. If some of the ladies competing with Alice for a well-paying job are actually men in drag.... well, I doubt anyone in the audience noticed or cared.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The amazing face and hair of comedienne Alice Howell are the primary attractions of this Reelcraft two-reeler. She plays the titular Cinderella, a waitress at a soup kitchen with a heart of gold and a serving spoon as big as all outdoors. Fired from her job for some over-enthusiastic pancake flipping, Cinderella lucks into a position in the kitchen of wealthy dowager Mrs. Doughbills (Rose Burkhardt). The plot takes a complicated turn as Cinderella is asked to masquerade as the wife of a nobleman, and some escaped convicts from Joliet Prison show up to further complicate matters. With her massive bush of hair, expressive face, and kewpie doll looks, one wonders whether Howell served as a prototype for 80s pop star Cyndi Lauper; regardless, she was clearly one of the top talents of the day, sadly all but forgotten at present.
  • This is a comedy short starring Alice Howell that I just viewed on the "American Slapstick 2" DVD set. She's at first at a diner preparing pancakes for the elderly male customers sitting down there. Then she does something that gets her fired and so she then ends up at a mansion where she and a butler are to pose as a count and countess that don't show up. I'll just now say I found quite a lot of this short quite funny especially when alcohol is accidentally involved...
  • At the height of her fame, Alice Howell was sometimes referred to as the female Charlie Chaplin. Unfortunately little is left for us to judge her by. Like most the top comediennes, she spent a lot of time playing second fiddle to male comics (as the girlfriend and then wife of Nervy Ned for instance) and this film is a rare glimpse of her in a starring role. And it is a rather impressive film.

    Her style of humour bears little or no resemblance to that of Chaplin. It is zany and off-the-wall in a way Chaplin never was and which remains relatively rare (Keaton of course apart) in the US comic tradition before the Marx brothers. Like many later "Keystone"-type comedies (dragged out, as it were, to half an hour), this is something of a jumble of disparate elements kept moving at a speed that does not give the audience a chance to reflect but, unlike most comedies of the sort, there is a certain coherence, a touch of social satire, a good deal of imagination and an evident attention to detail. So certain routines are highly original (the bizarre diner with everyone eating in unison and the quasi-feminist industrial dispute amongst the domestic workers that collapses as soon as a job is on offer) and others that, despite the frenetic speed of the short as a whole, are played out slowly over several scenes (the butler and cook getting very realistically plastered on the over-alcoholised punch).

    1920 was a year when Arbuckle was on the verge of disaster, when Chaplin, moving away from th short subject, produced no films and when Lloyd was also at something of a crossroads in his career after splitting up with Pollard and Daniels. This film therefore stands out amongst the comic shorts, which had in general become distinctly repetitive and formulaic.

    With of course one notable exception. For Keaton it was an annus mirabilis and he would show that there were still extraordinary things and quite different things that could be done in a comic short, producing three of his finest films (One Week, Convict 13 and The Scarecrow) in the year, three of the finest short comedies ever made. But Keaton stands head and shoulders above the others (Chaplin and Lloyd included as far as short subjects are concerned) and, amongst the many also-rans, Alice Howell occupies an honourable place.