Gadgets, Gags, and Gumption: Modernity in the Silent Film Comedy

Time: 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Date: Friday, August 30th, 2013
Location: Dallas Hall 306 (McCord Auditorium)
Guest Speaker: Pam Pagels, Hamon Arts Library Music Librarian

Scene from Electric House

Scene from Electric HouseVirginia Fox & Buster Keaton
(view web source)

** Attendance is Free **

Buster Keaton and Charles Chaplin created classic silent films that addressed the role of modernization and technology in day-to-day living. For both comedians, new gadgets and machinery proved an inexhaustible source for sight gags and pratfalls and represented a new impersonal nemesis for human resourcefulness.

Join us for an evening of film to see how each comic fares in the battle of man vs. machine. There will be a short introduction for these screenings discussing the careers of Keaton, Chaplin and the history and context in which these films were made. Our speaker will be Pamela Pagels, currently the Music Librarian for Hamon Arts Library and formerly instructor of Introduction to Film Studies at North Park University in Chicago. Questions and discussion will follow.

Need more information? Contact Lisa Wall at or 214-768-4397

Screening Schedule:

Design for Leaving Design for Leaving (1953) -a Looney Tunes short.
Synopsis via IMDB: Daffy Duck is a salesman for a futuristic appliance company, who, against Elmer Fudd’s will, modernizes Fudd’s house with many screwball gadgets, none of which work in Fudd’s favor.



Electric HouseThe Electric House (1922) – starring Buster Keaton.
(Silent, with recorded musical accompaniment)
Synopsis via IMDB: After being mistakenly certified as an electrical engineer, Buster is hired to wire a house.



Modern Times scene Modern Times (1936) – starring Charlie Chaplin.
(Presented in a new, restored 2K-resolution digital transfer)
Synopsis: The Tramp (called “a factory worker”) struggles to adjust to the pressures of life and work in modern industrial society.