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Slapstick on Slapstick: Mack Sennett’s Metamovies Revisit the Keystone Film Company


This article examines slapstick comedies about moviemaking produced by the Mack Sennett Comedies studio (1917–33) and studies the model of filmmaking that these metamovies advance. Mack Sennett Comedies’ movies on moviemaking, this essay suggests, repeat founding facts, icons, and technology associated with the Keystone era and, through their constant replay, elevate those motifs to the status of myth. In so doing, Mack Sennett Comedies not only built its corporate identity as a slapstick universe of play, leisure, and fun but also contributed to the imagination of Hollywood filmmaking, advancing slapstick practices as a model for the way in which the film industry represented its early years. As an addendum, this essay also reprints and examines a postcard from a booklet entitled Making the “Movies”: A Peep into Filmland, issued by the California Postcard Company in 1922.

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