“Super Hooper-Dyne Lizzies”
Directed by Del Lord
Cast: Billy Bevan, Andy Clyde, Lillian Knight, and Jack Richardson
Released June 14, 1925. Running time: 17:47
Another one of the strongest comedies on the Mack Sennett Collection, “Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies” benefits from its competent cast as well as the creative directing of Del Lord. Lord’s visual sense is responsible for some of the more remarkable Sennett comedies during this period, a few of which we’ve already covered as part of this collection.
The basis for the comedy has Billy and Andy developing a radioactive method of controlling automobiles, which threatens to put gasoline magnate Jack out of business. Jack goes to their offices to sabotage their system, but is frightened by people from a nearby masquerade party.
Perhaps the most noteworthy gag features Billy pushing his car down the road, and running into several other parked cars along the way. Billy has no idea, as he is crouched behind his own car, pushing mightily, with his shoulder to the vehicle, never looking up to see where he is going. One car pushes into another, which pushes into another, until Billy has several cars connected in front of him as he lumbers down the road. He eventually comes to a cliff and all of the vehicles topple down, one by one, and crash to the ground.
Del Lord films this clever scene beautifully, switching from long shots that allow Billy and all of the cars to be visible within the frame, to close-ups of the struggling comedian, and tracking shots that follow his movement. Cutaways to the confused owners of the vehicles walking down the street as a group looking for their cars, as well as an encounter with an equally confused traffic cop, embellishes the action nicely.
Other highlights of this comedy’s first half include a scene where the radioactivity shoots from the wires and causes random vehicles to respond. One man is peacefully sleeping in his parked car and it starts riding along the road, causing a hilarious reaction as the man awakens and hastily grabs the wheel attempting to take control. Lord shows us the man’s reaction in a close-up, and then quickly switches to a medium shot as he takes the wheel, allowing us to see the car framed by traffic. In another scene, a man is looking underneath its car, when it starts to travel. His coat gets caught in the door, as the moving vehicle drags him down the street. Lord’s tracking shots, and his brilliance at staging chase sequences, greatly benefit these scenes.
The second half of “Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies” goes for pretty typical scare comedy, as costumed partygoers wander near the control center when Jack plans to sabotage the operation. He and an assistant get scared, as does Billy who forgoes the party and has gone to sleep. Bevan’s gag of having a hat fall on his foot, lifting his leg, mistaking the rising hat as an intruder, and shooting his own toe originates here. Variations of this, and other gags in “Super Hooper-Dyne Lizzies” appear in later films with different comedians well into the sound era, including The Three Stooges and Andy Clyde (be they directed by Lord, or scripted by Felix Adler, who was also involved in “Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies.”
“Super Hooper-Dyne Lizzies” is not only clever and outrageously funny, it shows how rapidly the cinematic process had developed. Even as we chronologically work our way through the films in the Sennett collection, without considering other movies being made at the same time, we can see how the process has evolved from its primitive beginnings to the depth of production offered here. The camera is moves and tracks the action, the shots are varied, and the visual composition is much more layered.
With its composition of shots, quick edits, competent performances, brilliant direction, and impressive use of animation, “Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies” is one of the most i cinematically impressive, as well as one of the funniest Sennett productions to be found on the Mack Sennett Collection. The print used for the blu ray collection is beautifully restored.