Quotation by Gerald Mast

The great silent movies revolve around the body and the personality of its owner; the great sound comedies revolve about structure and style—what happens, how it happens, and the way those happenings are depicted. Film comedy, as well as film art in general, was born from delight in physical movement. The essence of early filmmaking was to take some object (animate or inanimate) and simply watch it move.... The sound comedy is far more literary. Given the opportunity to use the essential tool of literature, words, as an intrinsic part of the film's conception, the filmmaker did not hesitate to do so. In silent films, the use of words in titles was intrusive, a deliberate interruption of the cinematic medium and a substitution of the literary one. We stop looking and start reading. But the sound film provided the means to watch the action and listen to the words at the same time. Whereas the silent performer was a physical being,... the sound performer was both physical and intellectual at once.
Gerald Mast (b. 1940), U.S. film historian, educator. The Comic Mind: Comedy and the Movies, ch. 3, Bobbs-Merrill (1979).
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