Pimple’s Progress

Fred Evans, Britain’s First Film Comedy Star

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About the Book

In 1915, British moviegoers voted Fred Evans second only to Charles Chaplin as their favorite film comedian. Appearing as the roguish and anarchic “Pimple,” Fred made 200 silent movies between 1910 and 1922, running amok in frantic chases and sending-up current events and fashions. With a rich family heritage in pantomime and music hall, Evans introduced a satirical approach to filmmaking, frequently lampooning the recently introduced feature films. Pimple’s burlesques deflated the seriousness of such productions, providing subversive support for audiences adjusting to the the new form. But continual mockery of themes, acting styles and film techniques did not endear him to all. Changing public tastes and industry disapproval eventually resulted in an end to Evans’ screen appearances and a return to the stage.

As Evans has been almost entirely sidelined by film historians, this is the first book-length biography of him. It places Evans not only in a film context but within the wider entertainment and social perspectives of his time. Amongst topics discussed are the beginnings of the star system, war propaganda, the growth of film fandom and concerns about the influence of cinema on children.

About the Author(s)

Barry Anthony is a film and theater historian living in London. Over the last 30 years he has written several books and magazine articles about social history, the visual arts and popular entertainment.

Bibliographic Details

Barry Anthony
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: 50 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8831-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4647-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Preface 1

Introduction 3

Chapter 1. Pimple’s Pantomime Tradition 5

Chapter 2. Minnie Jee, the Fair Equestrian 13

Chapter 3. Uncle Will, the Musical Eccentric 21

Chapter 4. An American Interlude 27

Chapter 5. Living Pictures 32

Chapter 6. The Pooles as Partners 42

Chapter 7. ­Ec-Ko and Co 45

Chapter 8. Folly and Phoenix 54

Chapter 9. A Cast of Thousands, More or Less 62

Chapter 10. Uncles on Screen 70

Chapter 11. Pimple’s Popularity 78

Chapter 12. The Humor of the Halls 87

Chapter 13. Pimple’s Patriotism 96

Chapter 14. Pimple’s Three Weeks (Without the Option) 106

Chapter 15. Pimple in “The Whip” 112

Chapter 16. Our Old Pal Pimple 119

Chapter 17. Pandora B9/877 131

Chapter 18. Joey, Jimmy, and Gerry 139

Chapter 19. An End to Filming 148

Chapter 20. Family Affairs 161

Chapter 21. Postscript 166

Appendix: The Films of Fred Evans 167

Chapter Notes 189

Bibliography 193

Index 195