Wednesday, March 5, 2014

George Campo, the Continental Eccentric Dancer

[post 358]

If you've ever taken a class with me, you know I'm fond of physical comedy involving chairs, tables, doors, stairs, etc., so you can imagine how happy I was to see this comedy chair piece featuring eccentric dancer George Campo. The clip is from a 1932 film, which Pathé lists as La Boite a Matalots, which I take to be a triple misspelling of La Boîte à Matelots ("Sailor's Club"). I don't know anything about Campo, but he does appear (if it's the same performer) as a lead actor in the 1938 film Murder with Reservations and — 35 years after this clip! — doing a "vaudeville style act" on the Ed Sullivan Show (season 20, episode 25; Feb. 26, 1967).

In terms of acrobatics and flexibility, Campo reminds me a lot of Lupino Lane. Some of Campo's moves — such as stealing the newspaper while diving over the chair —are now "standard," but who knows if that was the case in 1932. The no-hands back roll to a free headstand is something I first saw Tony Azito do in this clip, but that's from the 1980s — and Azito "cheated" by pushing off the ground with one hand. What is impressive here is the number of moves, the smooth flow, and the musical accompaniment. Campo's woman partner has a negligible role, so the comedy is not as strong as it could be, but all-in-all top notch and very delightful.

The intertitle reads: "Life is full of ups and downs for George Campo, the Continental Eccentric dancer."

Here's a question: why is it that they release all these Ed Sullivan Show themed compilations (rock 'n' roll; Broadway musicals; Muppets; etc.) but no DVD with all of the incredible vaudeville acts that he showcased??

Finally, you will not be surprised to learn that the Campo clip comes by way of this blogopedia's resident eccentric dance expert, Betsy Baytos, whose documentary film on the subject is nearing completion. Thank you, and yahoo!

1 comment:

Mondomando said...

Thanks so much for sharing John. That was beautiful. I am sure you will be the first to let us know when Betsy's film is completed ... and when it is a huge success then the Ed Sullivan stuff might see the light of day. Until then thanks so much for all you are doing here for physical comedy.