Love, Loot and Crash (1915)

Love, Loot and Crash

Love, Loot and Crash
The Keystone Film Company
Directed by Frank C. Griffin
Produced by Mack Sennett
Source: YouTube

Looking for a picture to illustrate my #1915book sign-up page I came across a photo of the Keystone Cops in 1915. Like most people, I suspect, I knew the name and the general idea (falling over in black and white), but I’d never watched any of their films.

The Keystone Cops were a gang of slapstick police created by Mack Sennett, the Canadian-born director and producer known as an innovator in the field of people falling over and getting facefuls of custard.

(A crime-fiction side-note on Mack Sennett – he apparently played Sherlock Holmes 11 times between 1911 and 1913.)

The classic period for the Cops – not Kops, despite this being a common spelling – was between 1912 and 1917, although there were many revivals and reunions. They carried a few films in their own right, but were mostly used in support of individual stars such as Charlie Chaplin.

Love, Loot and Crash, from April 1915, is a single-reel film starring W.C. Hauber (smooth, mustachioed) and Fritz Schade (tubby, vest) as a couple of ‘versatile crooks’. Schade gets into drag so that he can get a job as cook to a wealthy banker, played by a grumpy-looking Josef Swickard. Hauber promises to pick up Schade and the loot in a getaway car. Their plan is complicated by a misguided policeman with a thing for cooks.

Meanwhile the banker’s daughter Mary (played by Dora Rogers, who later adopted the brilliant name Fontaine La Rue) is plotting to elope with her suitor Harold on his motorbike.

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Schade, thinly disguised as a lady cook, attracts the amorous attentions of one of the Keystone cops.

Anyway, to cut a short story shorter, the ‘cook’ locks the cop in the cellar and gets away with the silver, but ends up on the back of Harold’s motorbike by mistake. Mary climbs out of her window into the car of the crook with the moustache. Everyone drives away at top speed (i.e. slightly above walking pace). The Keystone Cops pursue with many mishaps.

Love, Loot and Crash seems to be mainly remembered as featuring two soon-to-be-famous comedians in minor roles. Harold Lloyd’s appearance as somebody falling over was uncredited. The other rising star was Charley Chase, who plays Harold, the love interest with the motorbike.

Charley Chase and Fontaine La Rue

Charley Chase and Fontaine La Rue

Now, innocently Googling Charley Chase is not something you’d want your elderly mother doing these days. You’re looking for the silent movie star, not the young lady *ahem*. Anyway, the original Chase appeared in over 300 films, 11 of them in 1915, and made his way up from a Keystone extra to starring in and then directing his own films. His films included Fatty’s Magic Pants, which is surely a Viz cartoon waiting to happen.

Obviously there’s not much of crime-fictional interest (not that that was the point of the film), but is Love, Loot and Crash funny?

*puts head on block*

No. Not to me, anyway. Apparently this wasn’t the Cops’ best outing (I watched a few clips from other films and they certainly had a higher proportion of visual gags). Personally, my biggest laugh was the caption describing the father as pursuing the crooks like a ‘war dog’.

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I was quite impressed by the stunts, obviously stuntman was a career in its infancy in 1915, but the lack of polish has to be balanced by the complete lack of regard for health and safety. The scene with a driverless jalopy going round and round in circles next to the sea, pushing a running Schade around, must have been one trip away from disaster.

The first set-piece, Mary and her father making the best of things in a kitchen, ends with entirely predictable hilarious results (flour in face). Then they do the same thing again (soot on head). Schade’s drag act consists entirely of overplayed simpering coquettery (stick with me, you’ll get all the long words). The second half of the film was impressive in terms of genuinely dangerous-looking stunts, but not actually funny.

Anyway, you’ve read my thoughts, now you can watch the film yourself…

About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Crime fiction of the year challenge, Crimes of the Century, Film/movie, Witness Statements and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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