Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


Lupino Lane was a silent film comedy star of the 1920s.  Hailing from England, he began his stage career at age four and became an established West End start by his teens.  Extremely athletic and double jointed, slapstick comedy seemed to be made for him.  He made over forty silent films in Hollywood but returned to England after making a few talkies.  There, he continued his stage and music hall career while continuing to make films.  Although he never created a continuing character in the silents, his most famous character post-silents was Bill Snibson, a racetrack bookie in the 1935 play Twenty to One, which ran for over a thousand shows (one year in London, followed by a successful road tour).  Lane returned to the popular character in 1937 with a follow-up play Me and My Girl, which had 1,646 performances in its original West End production.  It was in this musical that Lane created the dance craze "The Lambeth Walk," and the film of the play in 1939 took that title.  The musical was revived in the West end in 1941, 1945, and 1949, with Lupino Lane starring in and directing each of the revivals.  (The play was revised by Stephen Fry in 1984 and ran for eight years.  Since then the play was successfully restaged numerous times around the world.)

Lupino Lane was a member of the famous Lupino acting family.  His younger brother, Wallace Lupino, often appeared in Lane's silent films as a villain, foil, or friend of the actor.  His second cousin was the actress Ida Lupino.  Lupino Lane took his surname at the insistence of his great aunt, actress Sara Lane, who wanted her surname to survive.

In Be My King, Lane plays a cabin boy on what remained of a house that was destroyed in a hurricane and floated out to sea.  Brother Wallace plays the bosun.  They become shipwrecked (housewrecked?) on a cannibal island.  Yes, there are the stereotypical tropes involved and the natives are whites in blackface (**sigh**), but Lane;s athleticism, timing, and talents shine.

Give this one a try.

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