A Rare Comedy Short Made When the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread Was Still Sliced Bread
A CBS Sunday Morning Report on people who collect toasters included a factoid that made me think of Wallace Lupino, brother of Lupino Lane. There is a gag in The Lost Laugh (1928) involving a toaster that I’d not seen in earlier comedy shorts, so I was paying even more attention to Geist’s whimsical piece than usual.
The reason this short was on my mind is that I’d won a a 16mm print of it on eBay a few years before my seeing the story in 2011. The film was misidentified by its seller as simply “Bobby Dunn comedy”, but I recognized Wallace in the screen grabs in the listing, and Steve Massa was able to figure out which film this was. Aside from an 8mm Kodascope in a private collection, this is the only known copy of the film.
The film has a great little sequence in its first third with Wallace sitting at his dining table trying to make a piece of toast. It’s not the sort of simple, meditative small-detail kind of gag you’d see in a one-reeler. More like the sort of thing you’d see Chaplin take the time out of a sequence to do. The rest of the film is standard fare, with washing machine salesman Monte Collins showing up unannounced, followed by mess gags with the machine.
The dot-connecting item that struck me in Geist’s segment was that machine-sliced and wrapped bread was introduced in 1928. Most of the articles I’ve read online cite this year, although there are a couple mentions of Wonder Bread introducing this in 1921. The article linked below gives the Wonder Bread year as 1930.
There’s no way of knowing if this was precisely what generated this gag idea in Wallace Lupino’s fertile mind. But the business done is about the toaster and not about slicing up the bread first, the latter usually serving as fodder for physical comedy and breakfast frustration. And you’ll notice the bread looks like it was machine-sliced.
The other head-scratcher for me was — who names a comedy short as a pun on the title of a German film about a doorman?
Read about other films in the Accidentally Preserved DVD series here.
The article I found about the birth of machine-sliced bread is here.
You can watch Bill Geist’s “Gathering of the toaster collectors” story from November 2011 on YouTube here.
Here’s my YouTube intro to the film:
And here’s The Lost Laugh (1928) starring Wallace Lupino.