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TO JULY 13
Robert Farr was sitting in a cramped hotel room in Syracuse, peering over Leonard Maltin’s knees, when he got an idea. What Farr, Maltin, and a fire-marshal-defying group were doing was watching rare silent-film comedies during a fan convention. The idea Farr had was: This is really uncomfortable. And so, when the NoVa resident and film collector organized his own festival, he booked the comfy Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre, which got its start as a movie house in the ’70s and has the requisite cushioned seats. Farr’s “Slapsticon” is devoted to what he correctly calls “the lost art form” of slapstick (Hal Roach’s Shine ‘Em Up is pictured). “In today’s films,” he notes, “the gags are not visualhalf the time they’re prurient.” In the silent era of the ’20s, however, the comic was expected to deliver the goods, not hide behind quick-cut editing, CGI fakery, or a rap-metal soundtrack. They actually hung off ledges, jumped from cliffs, and fell out of moving trains. But don’t expect any Chaplin at this festFarr is concentrating on the unjustly forgotten and ignored knockabout artists of yore: Clyde Cook, Lloyd Hamilton, Charley Chase, and others you’ve never heard of but should have. “People have asked, ‘How can you do a slapstick festival without the Three Stooges?’” says Farr. “Same with Abbott and Costello, the W.C. Fields shortsall of which I love dearlybut they all are available.” And so Farr called his collector pals and rounded up rare prints from around the world. “This collection will never be together again,” Farr warns. And now you can watch them all in comfort as the festival runs to Sunday, July 13 (see Showtimes for a full schedule), at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre, 1611 N. Kent St., Arlington. $20. (703) 228-3271. (Dave Nuttycombe)