From its founding in 1912, the short-lived Keystone Film Company—home of the frantic, bumbling Kops and Mack Sennett's Bathing Beauties—made an indelible mark on American popular culture with its high-energy comic shorts. Even as Keystone brought "lowbrow" comic traditions to the screen, the studio played a key role in reformulating those traditions for a new, cross-class audience. In The Fun Factory, Rob King explores the dimensions of that process, arguing for a new understanding of working-class cultural practices within early cinematic mass culture. He shows how Keystone fashioned a style of film comedy from the roughhouse humor of cheap theater, pioneering modes of representation that satirized film industry attempts at uplift. Interdisciplinary in its approach, The Fun Factory offers a unique studio history that views the changing politics of early film culture through the sociology of laughter.
List of Illustrations
PART I: “SATIRE IN OVERALLS”: THE KEYSTONE FILM COMPANY AND POPULAR CULTURE
1. “The Fun Factory”: Class, Comedy, and Popular Culture, 1912-1914
2. “Funny Germans” and “Funny Drunks”: Clowns, Class, and Ethnicity at Keystone, 1913-1915
3. “The Impossible Attained!” Tillie's Punctured Romance and the Challenge of Feature-Length Slapstick, 1914-1915
PART II: “MORE CLEVER AND LESS VULGAR”: THE KEYSTONE FILM COMPANY AND MASS CULTURE
4. “Made for the Masses with an Appeal to the Classes”: Keystone, the Triangle Film Corporation, and the Failure of Highbrow Film Culture, 1915-1917
5. “Uproarious Inventions”: Keystone, Modernity, and the Machine, 1915-1917
6. From “Diving Venus” to “Bathing Beauties”: Reification and Feminine Spectacle, 1916-1917
Rob King is Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies and History at the University of Toronto.
Richard Wall Memorial Award 2010 Special Jury Prize Winner, Theatre Library Association