Monday, June 2, 2014
Silent ... But Still Menacing
Clowns have been around a long, long time. (We'll touch on their history in another post later.)
One of those (in)famous clowns of old is back in the spotlight courtesy of a found series of silent comedy shorts, a long-missing stock of American films recently rediscovered in Amsterdam of all places. Many of those shorts encompass Max Fleischer's "Out Of The Inkwell" series of cartoons from the early 1920s.
With these films scheduled to be restored and preserved from their nitrate originals, one in particular got the jump as the first to be revamped. Which film got the honor? Fleischer's 1926 cartoon "Koko's Queen" featuring Koko the Clown. As a matter of fact, per the article, it even got showcased at a recent public screening.
Sure ... let's restore some old clown footage. That's just what we need to get June underway.
The reason I bring this up? For the simple fact of the image used in the noted article, a rather eerie shot of the clown.
Regardless of Koko's off center stance in the image, he nevertheless strikes an odd figure. Strangely positioned hands (one of which only contains 3 fingers) are prominently featured. Vertical slits for eyes hide some unknowable demeanor. And that ear-to-ear grin harbors some unsung, seemingly devious motive.
Look at that picture above - what I described is exactly what's jumping out of it. Is it any wonder Koko's "queen" is looking away from him and appears not to want anything whatsoever to do with him?
Which only goes to show: Even silent, the clowns of old held a threat of possible menace.