Tango Movies

Tango Tangles
R : Mack Sennett. D: Charles Chaplin, Ford Sterling, Roscoe Arbuckle, Chester Conklin. P: Keystone Film Company. USA 1914

“The tango is a dance in 2/4 time, originally from Argentina, and is ‘characterized by catlike walking action and staccato head movements’. Sounds like the perfect dance step for a consummate pantomimist! In fact, the tango had only entered the United States and its consciousness a few years before this film. The 1920 book, ‘Handbook of Ball-Room Dancing’, by Paymaster-Commander A. M. Cree, RN., of all people, notes that ‘In 1912–13, when the ‘Tango’ first came among us, expositions were given on nearly every music-hall, with the result that a few self-styled experts were rushing up and down drawing-rooms, executing vigorous half-moons, scissors, and introduced mattchiche steps into their gyrations, with the result that the dance was immediately voted ‘taboo.’(8-9). Dancers Irene and Vernon Castle, who often demonstrated their talents on the Broadway stage are given credit by some for the step’s introduction here; others claim it was New York City dance instructor Maurice Mouvet who brought it back from his Paris vacation. Whatever circumstances surround its introduction, however, the tango’s exotic and intoxicating allure failed to be squelched even by the advent of World War I, a fact that probably predicted its continuing popularity today.”
Lisa Stein Haven: Tango Entanglement, 2006
Charlie Chaplin

Tangled Tangoist
R: George D. Baker. B: Arthur Ashley (story). D: John Bunny, Flora Finch, Louise Beaudet, Charles Wellesley. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1914

John Bunny and Flora Finch
“Bunny was born in New York city and gravitated to the theater. By 1900, he was appearing on Broadway, and when the new medium of film came along, Bunny jumped in. His first film, Cohen’s Dream, was released in 1909 and he continued to star in comedy short subjects until his death.
Bunny was fat, and used his physique to great advantage. He usually played a lower class guy who is only interested in getting away from his wife and drinking, gambling and having fun.
His wife was usually played by Flora Finch. Finch was a thin, sour faced women with a prominent nose that made her resemble the bird she was named for. She was from a British theatrical family and her career paralleled Bunny – reaching Broadway a few years later. Around 1910, she was cast as Bunny’s wife, and the first successful film comedy team was born. (…)
By 1915, they were the most popular film comedians, neck and neck with Charlie Chaplin. But the films ended with Bunny’s death. Finch continued to act into the talky days, but by the end of her career was mostly appearing in walk-on roles.
By that time, they had been forgotten. Chaplin has revolutionized comedy, moving it from a handful of laughs a reel to a handful of laughs a minute. Films like A Cure for Pokeritis seem too slow paced, and the jokes are not as funny as what we now expect.”
Chuck Rothman
Great but Forgotten

>>> John Bunny on this site