10 Gags from the Black and White Era You’ll Never Believe They Got Away With

10. Chaplin’s Little Tramp wrestles with infanticide

Taken from the classic Charlie Chaplin film The Kid. Also, don’t worry. Chaplin doesn’t kill the baby. He just considers dropping him into the sewer.

This sewer, to be precise.

9. The motorcycle scene in Sherlock Jr.

Yes, that’s actually Buster Keaton riding a motorcycle by the handlebars through three minutes of hell that even Jackie Chan would dismiss as crazy.

8. The most violent Three Stooges scene ever

Even by Saw standards, never mind Three Stooges standards, taking a spike to the eye is pretty goddamn sick.

This is the joke. Seriously.

7. Porky Pig and the son-of-a-bitch

The film looks legit and it sure sounds like Mel Blanc, but we are not too sure if any of this was ever made public. Either way, we are impressed.

6. Chaplin: The Cure

Fast-forward to 3:50 for one of the most insanely dangerous movie stunts of all time. Seriously, we just watched it a bunch of times and we still can’t figure out how the hell they pulled this off.

5. Safety Last

Even though they sometimes used a double and camera tricks to make the building appear much higher than it was, make no mistake: Harold Lloyd could have died at almost any minute filming his true-to-title Safety Last.

4. Charlie Chaplin encounters blow in Modern Times

They call it “nose-powder,” but it’s quite clear the dude’s on coke—and masterfully.

3. Buster Keaton and the house

The tornado scene in Steamboat Bill Jr. may contain some of the sickest stunts in movie history, but Keaton’s showstopper always has been—and always will be—having a house fall on him in just the right place so that he isn’t, you know, crushed to death.

Leonardo da Vinci could not have planned this better.

2. Chaplin in Easy Street interrupts an attempted rape

Fast-forward to the 20:00 mark for some wholesome, Requiem for a Dream-esque comedy. Otherwise, just take us for our word when we say that heroin was apparently comedy pay dirt back in the silent era.

1. Captain Spaulding goes to Africa… for the worst kind of pornography

We know what you are thinking, and don’t worry: Groucho does not go the way of Michael Richards in this beauty. However, his famous tale of getting drunk and hunting polar bears in Africa climaxes with a zinger so timeless that even modern audiences might considered in poor taste. Fast forward to 2:27, if you dare, for a joke still unabashedly inappropriate after more than 80 years.

Groucho Marx, pushing the envelope since 1890.


Jacopo della Quercia is now on Twitter. Follow him!

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