"The Spice of the Program": Educational Pictures, Early Sound Slapstick, and the Small-Town Audience


Established in 1915, Educational Pictures was the industry leader in short subject distribution by the late silent era, dominating the market in two-reel slapstick films. Yet by the mid-1930s the company's reputation had sunk precipitously, and Educational failed to survive the decade. This paper examines that history as a vantage point for reassessing traditional accounts of slapstick's sound-era decline, showing how slapstick cinema's dwindling industrial status was tied to upheavals in the short-subject market and growing cultural divisions within Depression-era America.