Richard Allen pulled a fast one. By combining “Crash Pad” and “The One-Armed Bandit” onto a single tape, the crafty director managed to sneak TWO shorts into the festival for the price of one. As good as these two films are, Slamdance got a bargain. The former tells the silly tale of a clumsy thief (Paul B. Price) who accidentally falls into a bed with a sleeping woman at the house he’s robbing. Before he can escape, her oblivious husband (Larry Bryggman) joins them and he’s forced to spend the night there. Whereas “Crash Pad” is a good warm-up act, a generally more subdued film with the exception of an impressively staged crawling/falling down the stairs sequence, “Bandit” is a comic gem. Price’s thief, with one arm in a sling, hilariously holds-up Bryggman’s passing business man in a seedy neighborhood. As Bryggman stoically plays the suffering straight man, Price’s one-armed robber creates gales of laughter with a deceptively simple sight gag: If one arm is incapacitated and the other holds a gun, how is he supposed to hold the loot? Price, a natural laugh factory who combines Chaplin’s comic determination with the bewildered deadpanned facial expressions of a Buster Keaton, milks this slapstick predicament for a pile of laughs. Though these films bear closer resemblance to black and white Benny Hill skits without the boobs than silent films, both “Crash Pad” and “The One-Armed Bandit” are nonetheless delightfully funny throwbacks to their silent film forebears.
Posted on February 20, 2000 in Reviews by Merle Bertrand
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