Ham Hamilton Comedies (1920-1929)

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    There are 6 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by ethanedwards.

    • Ham Hamilton Comedies (1920-1929)



      Mini Biography
      Lloyd Vernon Hamilton was born in California on August 19, 1891 and by 1913 had realized his dream to become an actor by making his film debut for the Lubin Company that year. His first flirting with fame came in the form of playing a character named “Pretzel” in a series entitled Frontier Comedies cranked out by the St. Louis Film Company. Later that year, he would be hired by the Kalem Company and teamed with a diminutive comic named Bud Duncan to act in support of stars Ruth Roland and Marshall Neilan. The two comics became so popular that they were spun-off into their own series of two-reelers (the Ham Comedies), of which more than 100 were made between 1914-17. When Kalem folded in 1917, Lloyd moved on to Fox, appearing in Henry Lehrman’s Sunshine Comedies—and it was here that he began to develop his “everyman” character. While at Fox, he made the acquaintance of a director named Jack White, who convinced Hamilton to strike out on their own in 1920. They formed their own company, with their shorts released by Educational Pictures. As described by film historian Massa: “Best described as a mama’s boy, he was prissy and courtly in a flat, checkered pancake cap, with a swishy duck-waddle walk that became his trademark…as he waddled along in his pancake cap he always seemed to be gently trying to sidestep the cruel fate that was forever nipping at his heels.”

      From 1920 to 1928, the Lloyd Hamilton comedies were among the most popular two-reelers released in theaters. Hamilton himself had many characteristics associated with Buster Keaton (a sort of dry, deadpan facial expression) and Charley Chase (Robert Youngson once described Chase’s career on-screen as “one long embarrassing moment”—but the same could apply to Hamilton as well). Were it not for “the cruel fate that was forever nipping at his heels,” Lloyd might very well be considered among the pantheon of silent comedy greats. But several factors conspired against him: first, he was never able to make the leap into silent features like Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd—his two 1924 attempts, His Darker Self (a two-reel version—the only extant evidence of Ham’s feature career, is included on the LNL set) and A Self-Made Failure, did dismal business at the box office....

      With special thanks to Elly, for the above biography

      Courtesy of Amazon
      At first glance, Lloyd Hamilton was simply a large, baby-faced comic who wore a checkered cap and walked like a duck. Beyond the surface, however, Hamilton had much more to offer than an iconic look and persona. In his performances, Hamilton demonstrated keen timing and an inventive mind, providing humor rich in both emotion and self-observation for a career that spanned over 20 years. But perhaps most importantly, Hamilton was greatly admired by his fellow comics as a true 'comedian's comedian' receiving overwhelming praise from no less than Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and other comic greats
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 23 times, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Re: Ham Hamilton Comedies 1920's

      Ham Hamilton were two reel comedies from the '20's'

      A couple of references, point out that Duke,was a lot busier
      with his propping and 'extras' work,
      then the scant listings of his earlier films suggest.

      Tim Lilley, wrote this article in The Big Trail,
      and pointed out the following:-

      The Films of John Wayne
      by Ricci/Zmijewsky.1970
      for years the standard reference work on John Wayne,
      made this interesting statement:-
      Wayne continued working in the prop department(Fox)
      and now and then as a stuntman. He also began to get bit parts in Ham Hamilton Comedies
      and Ford films such as Hangman's House, Salute and Men Without Women

      This was vindicated by Lee O Miller, the author
      of the 1979 book, The Great Cowboy Stars of Movies and Television
      Lee O Miller, had the good fortune to interview Duke, and Duke told him:-
      'I finally got bit parts in a few other films. Ham Hamilton was the director of those films.
      He was a friend of Ford's and the latter asked Hamilton to give me a chance at acting,
      if he had any bit parts, to cast me in!

      User Review

      Author: wmorrow59 from Westchester County, NY

      Lloyd "Ham" Hamilton is a comedian who deserves to be better known,
      so it's good news for silent comedy fans that several of his films have been restored for DVD
      by a New England-based company called Looser Than Loose.
      The recently issued set of Hamilton comedies kicks off with a few of the "Ham & Bud"
      comedies in which he appeared with diminutive sidekick Bud Duncan during the 1914-17 period.
      Frankly, these early efforts are primitive and only sporadically funny,
      but the situation is analogous to that of Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and the other greats:
      if you're interested in their best work you'll probably want to see the early material as well,
      and that means sitting through some really crude stuff. In Chaplin's Keystones
      and Lloyd's Lonesome Luke series you see occasional, fleeting touches of the artistry
      that would gradually be refined into something special.
      In the Ham & Bud comedies artistry is scarce and absolutely nothing is "refined,"
      but there are hints of the skilled comic Hamilton would become in his mid-'20s heyday.
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 12 times, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Re: Ham Hamilton Comedies (1920-1929)

      Here is a piece written by
      by wmorrow59

      Lloyd Hamilton, is almost forgotten today, but after seeing his work in Careful Please and a few other silent comedies I can only hope that more of his films are found, restored, and made available to the public. He was a gifted, unusual comedian whose movies deserve to be better known.

      For those who haven't seen him, Lloyd "Ham" Hamilton was a large man with oddly prissy mannerisms. He had the semi-flattened features of a boxer, but could twist his highly expressive face into comical looks of dismay, disdain, and disapproval. He walked with a distinctive waddle (apparently the result of a broken leg sustained on the set of one of his early films) and wore a flat cloth cap. Hamilton's basic persona was that of a hapless loser who always seems to be having the worst day of his life. His comedies-- at least the ones I've seen --ramble from sequence to sequence without much concern for narrative coherence or character motivation, but he didn't seem to care so why should we? The gags in Hamilton's films are often clever and surprising, and even the "borrowed" routines are performed with vigor.

      Unfortunately much of the man's prime output from the 1920s was destroyed in a vault fire, but there are survivors. Careful Please, for one, ranks as one of the more enjoyable short comedies from a comedy-rich era.
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 1 time, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Re: Ham Hamilton Comedies (1920-1929)

      I just found out today from Anthony Balducci (author of Lloyd Hamilton biography)

      Hamilton was over 6 feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds.

      Strangely on screen he look short and stocky. But it is something I (we) have to bear in mind when looking for JW in his films.

      [B][B]Be who you are & say what you feel Because those who mind dont matter & those who matter dont mind[/B][/B]
    • Re: Ham Hamilton Comedies (1920-1929)

      Good Morning Ethan,

      BTW...Saw the real Ethan on Pawn Stars on TV last night (x2 I have seen his appearance) I was wondering:
      1. Does JW make any appearances in these collection of *shorties*
      2. Is this title available anywhere (TCM, Oldies, Movies Unlimited, deep, Amazon, EBay) etc?

      Thank you so much!

    • Re: Ham Hamilton Comedies (1920-1929)

      Good Morning!

      Is there a "list" of know appearances of JW in "shorties". I didn't see it on our site, nor did GOOGLE help....

      If there is none available, I guess I will have to go the long route and contact all the fan clubs/blogs etc for info....It would just be easier if they were under "one roof" per se!

      I miss England this time of year... Many happy memories as a child.....Slides help, and bring one back with a tear or 3, but it just is not the same thing.....

      I envy you sir!
    • Re: Ham Hamilton Comedies (1920-1929)

      gettingold80 wrote:

      Good Morning!

      Is there a "list" of know appearances of JW in "shorties". I didn't see it on our site, nor did GOOGLE help....

      If there is none available, I guess I will have to go the long route and contact all the fan clubs/blogs etc for info....It would just be easier if they were under "one roof" per se!

      There is no known list of definite Duke sightings in shorties,
      but our list
      compiled by our member elly
      are one's we believe he could have been involved in.

      we hope still remains the most difinitive list
      of movies with confirmed appearances of Duke
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 2 times, last by ethanedwards ().