Phantom Fortunes (1916)

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In the first couple decades of the 20th century, ethnic comedians with their stereotyped representations of Italians, Dutchmen and Irishmen were quite popular (today, their brand of humor would be considered offensive and very politically incorrect). Jewish funnyman Barney Bernard earned his fame in the stage play Potash and Perlmutter, and this picture was his cinematic debut. Zalmon Pinsker (Bernard) plays a clothes merchant with more heart than common sense. He is victimized by some swindlers posing as buyers for the Allied Nations. The con men swear him to secrecy, and over the course of several reels, before their scheme is uncovered, Pinsker spends a lot of time figuring out what he's going to do with the huge wad of money he's expecting from the sale. The titles to this silent picture went very light on the usual dialect-heavy approach. Some critics of the day actually saw this as a fault!