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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful history from a true fan
The great strength of this well-written and entertaining book is Paul's choice to make it a chronological account of the developing careers of all the major silent movie stars. One gets to appreciate how Chaplin led the way and how so many other stars found themselves following his lead (often emulating his tramp character) before finding their own on-screen...
Published on 5 July 2010 by Paul Solomons

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2.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Mr. Merton should have stayed quiet on the subject
I recently caught some clips of the Paul Merton's 'Silent Clowns' show that focused on the likes of Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. I have to say that that show appears to be far more useful a guide to the world of silent comedies than this book is.
Initially, I was hooked- reading about the vaudevillian days and the acts that grew up on the stage and evolved...
Published 19 months ago by Bug DeLug


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful history from a true fan, 5 July 2010
By 
Paul Solomons (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Silent Comedy (Paperback)
The great strength of this well-written and entertaining book is Paul's choice to make it a chronological account of the developing careers of all the major silent movie stars. One gets to appreciate how Chaplin led the way and how so many other stars found themselves following his lead (often emulating his tramp character) before finding their own on-screen personas.

Paul describes a great deal of the action in various movies and I found it incredibly rewarding to be able to trawl through YouTube after reading each section to try to locate the movies to which he referred and see for myself the business he had discussed.

Paul Merton is clearly a huge fan of silent movies and his passion comes through. He writes very much as he speaks and at times you can almost picture him delivering the lines. Certainly, knowing the author as a comedian makes his little asides in which he suggests how his subjects might be feeling, all the more plausable.

Very enjoyable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harry Langdon, 9 Jun 2009
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This review is from: Silent Comedy (Paperback)
Thank you Paul Merton for writing such a richly entertaining and interesting read about the era of silent movies.I am old enough to remember the Bob Monkhouse tv show called Mad Movies and this book brought back so many memories of parts of the films that were featured on there.The way Merton describes the films of Chaplin,Keaton,Harold Lloyd and Laurel and Hardy is a sheer joy and notably brings out the enthusiasm and love Merton has for his film heroes in his writing.One name mentioned in the book is the underated and usually forgotten Harry Langdon.My b/w dvd collection has lately been enhanced after reading this wonderful book.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 5 Jan 2008
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This review is from: Silent Comedy (Hardcover)
Paul Merton's 336-page journey through the silent comedy era is as informative as it is fascinating. Merton's passion, wit and knowledge of the subject visibly shines through his writing, accompanied by beautiful full-colour images and quotations from the comedy greats. Whether you're reading it for pleasure or using it as reference material, Silent Comedy is a beautiful, thorough, accessible and indispensable book. Put simply, it's brilliant.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful introductory book to silent comedy, 11 Jan 2008
By 
K. Byrne (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Silent Comedy (Hardcover)
I have long been a fan of silent comedy and found this book an absoloute joy.
Paul Merton's passion and enthusiasm come through in the writing, and it's nice to see an accessible book, written by a fan.

Like his television series and subsequent live shows of Silent Clowns, this book is great for someone who is relatively new to silent comedy. It provides reasonably detailed overviews of the household names as well as some of the perhaps lesser well known; it also nicely covers the beginnings and the end of the silent era of cinema.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, 29 May 2013
This review is from: Silent Comedy (Paperback)
I agree with both sides on this one. Initially found the book very entertaining, I couldn't put it down. Really interesting, gives us a timeline on the development of the genre in an fresh way. Rather than doing the obvious and having a chapter on each of the stars, Merton takes us through time with the stars coming along with the reader. Paul Merton's love of his subject shines through in every page and he wants us to love the silent screen as much as he does. He seems to be saying to the reader "this film is great..it starts off with...then Charlie Chaplin does...then Harold Lloyd appears dressed as a sailor..." seemingly taking the reader through every scene in every silent film of any note ever made. Sadly, there was just too much of it, long descriptive passages of plots and gags over and over again. In frustration found I was skipping through these sections in order to concentrate on the lives of the stars themselves, which were fascinating, and very well researched. More than enough to keep the real enthusiast entertained but those with only a passing interest in silent cinema may find themselves nodding off in the back row!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps Mr. Merton should have stayed quiet on the subject, 19 Dec 2012
This review is from: Silent Comedy (Paperback)
I recently caught some clips of the Paul Merton's 'Silent Clowns' show that focused on the likes of Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. I have to say that that show appears to be far more useful a guide to the world of silent comedies than this book is.
Initially, I was hooked- reading about the vaudevillian days and the acts that grew up on the stage and evolved their schtick in front of the cameras, but unfortunately Mr. Merton appears to run out of anything particularly interesting to say pretty quickly, and instead decides to describe a whole bunch of silent shorts and then features in exhaustive detail.
This would be okay, but if you have seen the films then it is a pointless exercise to have them retold to you gag by gag, scene by scene in this way. If, on the other hand, you haven't gotten around to seeing any of those early films yet then expect to have them spoiled in the driest, most humourless way possible.
It wouldn't be too bad if he just spoiled the odd Arbuckle short, but when he goes on to spoil films like The Kid or The General then that really is an act too far.
It is as if he has sat down with a pen and paper and just written down exactly what happened, maybe extrapolating with notes from other sources to flesh things out a little.
Truth be told, this is one of the most pointless books that I have ever read. I was constantly skipping over sections where he would yet again describe the films scene by scene, only to find that I was skipping through umpteen pages only to find perhaps only a paragraph of interesting trivia before he was telling me how yet another short film plays out, scene by scene.
Lazy Mr. Merton failed to engage me in any way shape or form with this book, which is a shame as I thought that it would be a nice introduction to a forgotten world which I am only just starting to explore for myself.
The approach is dry, and ironically humourless, and I am sure that if this wasn't penned by someone pretty famous then it would have never garnered any attention.
There are far better reads on the subject than this, and I cannot recommend it to anyone I'm afraid, unless perhaps you are someone who never intends to watch these films at all in which case why would you even want to pick this book up?
Pointless, and informative only in flashes- it gets two stars from me on the basis that the introduction is at least interesting. One to miss though really.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, but misleading title, 3 Jan 2008
This review is from: Silent Comedy (Hardcover)
This book is a wonderful read, illustrated tremendously and is a thoroughly well researched book by a man who is not just a wonderfully witty wordsmith, but an obvious fan of the subject.

The only problem I have with the book is that it should have eluded within the title that it is about the early Silent Comedy Films, as it will give the impression to the reader that Silent Comedy ended with the introduction of Sound and I feel this is not the case. (Mr Bean, Eric Sykes, Mel Brooks) On page 284 discussing the arrival of sound it states, `A whole new generation of screen entertainers appeared: The Marx Brothers, Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson were all vibrant vocal performers with musical skills aplenty.' It fails to mention that a member of the Marx Brothers was a silent comedian, considered by many as the greatest physical/Silent comedian of them all.

But this is stupid nit-picking... Anyone who was aware what Paul Merton has been up to recently would have known what is contained in this book. I remember watching Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Laurel and Hardy during my childhood and this book, now, makes me want to see them on the big screen with live musical accompaniment... Paul, please bring your Silent Clowns lecture to Ireland.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fun read, 30 Oct 2009
This review is from: Silent Comedy (Paperback)
Very good introduction to silent film comedy,Paul Merton obviously knows his subject matter,includes some nice photos,if you enjoy this book will also enjoy I Fatty by Jerry Stahl,also simon louvish's books on laurel & hardy & the marx bros.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but could be better, 16 Dec 2009
This review is from: Silent Comedy (Paperback)
I'm very much enjoying this book. Mr Merton has a real feel for the comedy, and is opinionated and crtical in his discussion of the films. The book has made me want to find out more, and most signficantly watch the films.

However, most of the book is detailed scene by scene description of the films. Whilst this is sometimes interesting when it is informative or Mr Merton is giving some insight (or speculating), too often it descends into very repetitive waffle that I find myself skipping through. It could have been better with greater insight, but as it is I feel watching the films would be better! The absence of any bibliography points to not much research beyond watching the films? But I'm being too harsh - you'll enjoy this book but it will leave you wanting more; and that's maybe no bad thing for what is a different media
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Silent Comedy
Silent Comedy by Paul Merton (Paperback - 7 May 2009)
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