Even at this late date, comedian and filmmaker Harry Langdon is still something of a polarizing figure. Fans of classic Hollywood-era comedy seem to find him an original and hilarious artist or a baffling and frustrating minor talent. More significant though, is film history's critical evaluation of Langdon and his film work. Langdon's rise to fame in the mid- to late 1920s has been well documented, as has been his rapid fall from grace as the silent-era ended. Langdon's critical status as both performer and filmmaker was set by accounts of his former collaborator, filmmaker Frank Capra, largely through critic James Agee's influential and canonical essay of 1949, “Comedy's Greatest Era,” based mainly on information from Capra. Langdon had fired Capra. Capra later contended that Langdon was ignorant of his own talents and appeal and that fame made Langdon arrogant and self-important. Other writers replicated the Capra-Agee version, and even...

You do not currently have access to this content.