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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Alice Howell in 3 rare silent gems on 1 DVD - Cinderella Cinders, One Wet Night, Under A Spell


When Stan Laurel was asked to name the ten greatest comediennes of all time, one of the first on the list was Alice Howell ... Her films were sometimes advertised - "Every one a Howell!"

Three silent gems on one no-region DVD ...

Cinderella Cinders (1920) Alice Howell, Richard Smith and Rose Burkhardt
Production Company: Reelcraft Pictures ... Directed by Frederick J. Ireland

One Wet Night (1924) starring Alice Howell, Neely Edwards, Bert Roach
Under A Spell (1925) starring Alice Howell, Neely Edwards, Bert Roach
Production Co: Universal Pictures ... Directed by Richard Smith

Alice Howell was the "Lucy" of her day. She co-starred with Chaplin & other comedy greats developing her unique style. She appeared in a series of films with Neely Edwards & Bert Roach playing the same dysfunctional family ... (approx. running time of DVD 60min)

Original Score by Brian Pinette. Copyright 2011 for Menu, (Theme song) and Score.

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Dur8ing checkout, type Alice Howell in Notes.

Alice Howell ...

With her fuzzy hairdo piled atop her dizzy head, a vacant stare, and a shuffling penguin walk as the finishing touch, Alice Howell is arguably the most unfairly neglected of the silent era's few female comedy stars.

Howell, who plowed both vaudeville and burlesque with her husband as Howell & Howell, entered films with Mack Sennett's Keystone comedy factory in 1914. She was there during the time of Charlie Chaplin, which is the only reason her name has survived at all (they appeared together in Caught in a Cabaret and Laughing Gas, both 1914).

But Mabel Normand received almost all the plum female roles at Keystone, and when the self-important Henry \"Pathé\" Lehrman left Sennett and failed to persuade Normand to come along, Howell joined the exodus.

She became the Queen of the Lot at Lehrman's L-KO ("Lehrman-Knockout"), but was still considered a pale imitation of Normand. Still, Howell remained with L-KO for the duration of the company's existence before moving to the Stern brothers' Century comedies.

Century released through Universal, and Howell saw her star rise dramatically. When Century suddenly changed gears towards child stars and performing animals, Howell left and signed with a new company, Reelcraft. It was a step down, and although frequently described as hilarious (if somewhat low-class), the Howell comedies played mainly the hinterlands.

But Universal had never forgotten the dizzy dame with the hairdo, and Irving Thalberg, in one of his final decisions before moving over to MGM, teamed her with the debonair Neely Edwards and the rotund Bert Roach in an extremely successful series in which she and Edwards played a married couple, with Roach as their inept butler.

Existing series' entries such as One Wet Night, in which the Edwards-Howell household is burglarized by a transvestite (leading Alice to suspect Neely of infidelity), are still mirth-provoking and do much to corroborate Stan Laurel's oft-quoted ranking of Howell as one of the screen's ten best "comediennes" of all time.

Belonging thoroughly to the silent era, Howell retired with the advent of sound.

Biography by Hans J. Wollstein