Monday, June 1, 2009
The King of Comedy....Eddie Cline
Eddie Cline was one of the greatest comedy directors in motion picture history. During a long and prolific career, he played a key role in the best work of Buster Keaton and W C Fields. Today, he is a forgotten man. He was born Kenosha (a town famous for being the hometown of another director, Orson Welles). In his late teens, Cline migrated west and began a career in Hollywood as one of Mack Sennett's Keystone Cops. As a cop, he took his orders from Chief of Keystone Police, La Crosse native and Wisconsinology logo icon, Ford Sterling. Cline, a natural comic with an incredible sense of timing, was soon assisting Sennett as a co-director and gag writer. By early 1916, he was directing two reel comedy shorts - the life blood of the Keystone operation. And then he met Buster Keaton. The two became inseperable. As a comedy writing and directing team they made history. Cline co-wrote and co-directed seventeen of Buster Keaton's shorts, a series of timeless classics that stand up today as the best comedy films of silent era - The Playhouse, The Paleface, The Boat, Cops,,The Three Ages and so many more. At the dawn of the sound era, Cline began a decade long association with W.C. Fields. In 1940, he would direct Field's penultimate film, The Bank Dick. Eddie worked constantly through the 40's and well into the television era of the 50's. The picture below, a directors ad from the 20's, best sums up Eddie's daily state of being...
From the Life archives, Shemp Howard hands Eddie a phony Oscar.
At the top of the page - Eddie and Buster Keaton take a break during the filming of "Cops" in 1922.