“The Noise of Bombs”
Cast: Charlie Murray, Edgar Kennedy, Lucille Ward, Dixie Chene, Josef Swickard, Harry McCoy, Eddie Cline, Charles Parrott (Charley Chase).
Released November 19, 1914. Running time: 11:33
By the time this film was released in late 1914, Keystone had firmly established its style of frantic, hilarious comedy. CineMuseum’s restoration of this short on the Mack Sennett blu ray collection is especially impressive, offering a sharpness to the picture that allows us to see everything from the broadest gestures to the slightest facial nuance.
“The Noise of Bombs” is another one of the best paced, fullest, and funniest Keystone comedies of this period. A policeman (Charlie Murray) is tussling with some thugs, when he accidentally smacks his chief (Edgar Kennedy) with a billy club, bloodying his face. The thugs decide plant a bomb in the chief’s house. The cop, who has been fired for hitting the chief, is captured and forced to plant the explosive with a note that states it will go off in ten minutes. When the chief and his family arrive home, the cop hides inside the foldout couch where the bomb has been stashed. The chief and his family frantically try to find the bomb upon seeing the note, but don’t notice the explosive until it is smoking and about to go off. Charlie retreats back to the thugs’ hideout, puts the explosive there, and leads the police out of the way as the bomb explodes.
Along with the building of gags, “The Noise of Bombs” contains other elements that cause it to stand out. First, Charlie is not fired immediately for hitting the chief. His superior returns to the police station and simmers for a while before returning to the park and stripping Charlie of his badge. By that time, Charlie is entrusted with a nursemaid’s baby, which is another interesting element added to the proceedings. Thus, when Charlie is grabbed by thugs and forced to plant the bomb, the baby is put in the hideout. When Charlie returns to the hideout with the bomb, he also rescues the baby.
By the time this film was produced, Charlie Chaplin had nearly finished his run at the studio. Sennett’s full-length comedy feature “Tillie’s Punctured Romance” was set for release the following month. Keystone had positioned itself in the hearts of moviegoers as a studio that offered the wildest, funniest, and most outrageous comedy.
Once again there is no director credited and research has not revealed his identity. Along with the editing and the precise choreography, the director of this short uses some long shots with deep focus revealing both background and foreground as Charlie is chased holding the smoking bomb. The action and violence is blocked perfectly, each performer used in a manner that works to best advantage for each scene. There is a certain cinematic beauty to the entire enterprise.
“The Noise of Bombs” has an uncomplicated storyline, steady action, hilarious gags that are beautifully executed by a brilliant cast, and a happy conclusion. Within these parameters is one of the highlight films on the first disc of the Mack Sennett blu ray collection. For more, read this book.