Slapstick 2017

Paths to Paradise PG

Raymond Griffith:The Silk Hat Comedian

Raymond Griffith seems to me to occupy a handsome fifth place - after Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, and Langdon - in the silent comedy pantheon. A place that is his by right of his refusal to ape his contemporaries and his insistence on following the devious curve of an entirely idiosyncratic eye.

- Walter Kerr, author of The Silent Clowns.

It is testament to Raymond Griffith's talent that he was able to make superior feature comedies at all during the 1920s. The "Big Four" comedians (Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, and Langdon) all produced their best features themselves. They had control over stories, budgets, schedule, and cast selection. Griffith by contrast was a contract player appearing in six Paramount features in 1925 alone.

The problem with assessing Griffith's status among the greats of silent comedy is the availability of his films. Many that he starred in have simply been lost or locked up in archives. Markedly different from other comedians at the time, his costume was usually a top hat and tuxedo. Always grinning, his characters were cunning, every situation another game in which he had to try to figure out how to save his hide.

Join Oscar®-winning director and film historian Kevin Brownlow as he introduces the rare Raymond Griffith feature Path To Paradise from his personal collection and champions this unsung comic, who, whilst often overlooked, is today deservedly considered a worthy contemporary of the great silent clowns.