Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Al St. John

Al St. John held his own and often stole the spotlight as he shared the screen with the silent superstars Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle. And yet today he is practically unknown. Had Turner Classic Movies not run a Fatty Arbuckle marathon I would have never discovered this versatile clown myself. And I am so glad that I did.

His precise comic timing, coupled with elaborate physical routines and jaw-dropping pratfalls, makes me wonder why this graceful acrobat is not mentioned along side the other great comedians of the silent era.

Once the talkies arrived and the film comedies became more sophisticated, Al St. John took on the comic sidekick role of Fuzzy Q. Jones playing opposite Buster Crabbe and later Lash LaRue in a series of low budget westerns. Most of these westerns gave him a showcase solo scene in which he could perform some classic physical routine.

Forgotten by most today, he never achieved the super star status of Keaton and Arbuckle, but as long as their silent comedies are shown, Al St. John will always have a second chance to be discovered.

If you like this post, then check out my new blog, When Voices Were Silent about films and stars that made up the greatest era of motion picture history - the silent era.

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