Monday, July 13, 2015
Coming soon: the most epic slapstick of the silent era
Dr. Strangelove nearly ended with an extended war room pie fight, but Kubrick eventually deemed the idea as too ridiculous for his otherwise subtler satire. The footage was never released, but it might have been one of the greatest on-screen pie fights in history. Pie tossing has been a staple of vaudevillian slapstick since the silent era, and Dr. Strangelove's fight would have topped them all... had Laurel and Hardy not beaten it to the punch forty years earlier.
As The New York Times tells, Laurel and Hardy's short film "The Battle of the Century" features arguably the most epically scaled pie fight in movie history, burning through over 3000 pies in 20 minutes. The second half of the film has been missing for decades, becoming "a holy grail of comedy" as critic Leonard Maltin dubbed it. But just recently, an archivist discovered this missing portion. The existing reel seems to contain most of the pie-throwing, and anecdotes suggest the second reel reveals why the pastry carnage ensued. More pies might not be thrown, but we'll finally hear the setup to the punchline.
We won't get to see the results until it's properly preserved, but soon, we'll get to see the conclusion to arguably the greatest pie fight ever captured on film. Take that, Kubrick!
(The video above is a stitched-up version of "The Battle of the Century" using all currently available footage.)