As Harvey Korman is dying in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater at the end of Blazing Saddles, he still has time to wonder aloud, of Douglas Fairbanks Sr., "How did he do such amazing stunts . . . with such little feet?"
More to the point: How did he do them at all? Long before Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. was the father of the great swashbuckling movie clowns. Valley film historian Richard M. Roberts continues his silent-movie series, which kicked off last month with Rudolph Valentino's The Eagle, with a screening of the 1925 Fairbanks sword-swisher Don Q, Son of Zorro, at 2 p.m. Sunday, December 10, at the Phoenix Center for Community Arts.
If you're unfamiliar with Fairbanks, as far too many movie buffs are, you should take time out to catch this screening. Stars didn't get much bigger than he was at the time, and it's not hard to see why -- the charm and comic precision he brought to his astounding stunts made them seem effortless. He's best known for The Thief of Bagdad, The Black Pirate and The Mark of Zorro, which makes the opportunity to see the slightly more rare Don Q, co-starring sexy Mary Astor and directed by Donald Crisp (who also plays the villain), all the more to be seized on.
The excellent series continues with the rousing, Grand Canyon-shot Tom Mix Western Sky High on January 21; an assortment of comedy shorts on February 18; Buster Keaton's comic masterpiece The General on February 25; and D.W. Griffith's astonishing epic Intolerance on April 22. Short subjects will be played at all showings. For details call 602-249-4735.