The Dead Letter Office (1915)

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In the 1910s, audiences loved ethnic humor, and even those who were being lampooned laughed at the jokes. This Lubin split-reel comedy takes a number of pot shots at Italians. Mateo (Oliver Hardy) is an ice cream vendor and Luigi (Vincente DePascale) is an organ grinder -- two typical Italian-type jobs, according to the world of silent film. They are rivals for pretty Lena Pula (Frances Ne Moyer), who runs a boarding house. When Mateo looks through a window, hoping to see Lena, he gets a bonus -- he also sees that she's pulled in a large amount of rent money. Emelio (Charles Ritchie) mistakes him for a peeping Tom and runs after him. Later Emelio informs Lena of the incident. Luigi, meanwhile, has sent off a love letter to Lena, but he goes over to her house before it even arrives. Mateo is already there, and Lena is angrily giving him a beating. Luigi sees this scene and decides he wants his letter back. After a lot of hunting around, he finally retrieves it. In the end, it is Emelio, not Mateo or Luigi, who wins Lena.