The Bell Hop (1921)

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Perhaps the most readily available of Larry Semon's two-reel comedies, this mad farce deals with a gang of foreign spies attempting to steal an important government document at a resort hotel. The white-faced Semon is the hotel's lazy bellhop, with Oliver Hardy (a Semon stock company player at the time) cast as a dapper-looking, mustachioed desk clerk. In typical Semon style, the gags gets increasingly elaborate and The Bell Hop's extravagant budget would ultimately lead to the comedian's exit from the Vitagraph Company. Norma Nichols played the heroine, a Secret Service agent masquerading as a hotel maid, and Bill Hauber performed Semon's more life-threatening stunts. Semon's co-director on this and most of this other 2-reel comedies was future MGM stalwart Norman Taurog.