Sunday 28 October 2007

Chips of the Old Block (1928) Seth Holt

Many of the most successful of the earliest sound films were shorts recorded on the Vitaphone sound system and exhibited between 1926 and 1930. The soundtrack wasn't actually printed on the film itself, but onto 16 inch records that were played as the film progressed. The records weren't like those that could be bought back in the day: they were played at 33 1/3 rpm instead of 78 rpm and the needle went from the inside out rater than the other way around. Many of these featured old vaudeville acts who would soon disappear into a bygone era, replaced by the silver screen which ironically is the only way to experience them today.

The well known Foy Family, who would later be given the biopic treatment in The Seven Little Foys, feature in Vitaphone short #2580, Chips of the old Block. We only see six of them here though: two girls singing and swinging their hips, one backing them up on ukelele, another seemingly running the show and two more for apparent comic relief. The jokes are as old as the film but the comic dancing is impressive. It is hard to imagine an act like this being the headlining act for an evening's entertainment though.

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