Synopsis by Hal Erickson
One of producer Joseph Levine's earliest projects, Gaslight Follies is a compilation of silent film footage narrated by Metropolitan Operan stalwart Milton Cross. Unlike the more respectful compilations of Robert Youngson (The Golden Age of Comedy, Laurel and Hardy's Laughing 20s etc.), Follies mocks its silent material, re-editing the old footage to make it look as ridiculous as possible, then adding stupid sound effects and inappropriate music. The film's vintage Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Keystone Kops clips are presented in a manner that robs them of all their entertainment value (Chaplin is rendered utterly unfunny, a remarkable "achievement"). The film concludes with a lengthy excerpt from East Lynne, an old-fashioned and overly sentimental melodrama which nonetheless does not deserve the cruel and condescending treatment Joseph Levine has given it here. Gaslight Follies was put together in the mid-1940s, an era in which silent movies were regarded as "antiques", worthy only of derisive laughter; as such, this compilation is a must to avoid.