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Classically Speaking:
Promoting Classic Movies in a Jaded World!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Please Don't Forget...JOHN BUNNY!

John BunnyJOHN BUNNY (1863-1915) was one of the first great film comedians and is almost unknown today. He started on the stage as actor and stage manager, becoming well known. In 1910 he took a great risk and a pay cut leaving the theatre and starring in films at Vitagraph which at the time was considered a major step down. Between 1910 and his death in 1915 he made over 250 films for Vitagraph, usually teamed with Flora Finch. Sadly he was forgotten within the next two years and is often omitted from film histories today. Only a handful of his films exist today.

When I think of JOHN BUNNY, I cherish his work in the following:

A Cure For Pokeritis (1912)
A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)
A Cure For Pokeritis (1912) Bunny is addicted to poker and wife Flora plans to cure him. These were not really slapstick films, but tended toward domestic comedy. Bunny was short and heavyset while Finch was tall and thin, making a great contrast. This film is available on Kino's Slapstick Encyclopedia set.
Little Nemo (1911) In this film, thankfully available on DVD, pioneer animator Winsor McCay (Gertie the Dinosaur) explains his cartoons to John Bunny. Also present is cartoonist George McManus, creator of the comic strip "Bringing Up Father". This is essential for anyone interested in early film.
Vanity Fair (1911) This adaptation of Thackery's novel starred Helen Gardner as Becky Sharp, John Bunny as Joseph Sedley and Alec B. Francis as Pitt Crawley. It is believed to be a lost film.
Captain Jenks' Dilemma (1912) Bunny costars with Julia Swayne Gordon, another forgotten star of the era. This, too, is considered a lost film. Later that year he appeared in Captain Jenks' Diplomacy.
The Jarrs Visit Arcadia (1915) This is listed as Bunny's last film. Also in the cast was child actor Paul Kelly who continued in films until his death in 1956.

*Contributed by: "Eric Jamborsky" Date: Sun, Jul 23 2006 / 12:30:04 PST