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For all agesNordic Children's Film Classics

Long and Short: The Film Heroes

The duo Fy (Long) and Bi (Short) made extremely popular comedies during the silent film era. Their films spread as far as the United States in the 1920s. The hilarious stories in this compilation are from 1921–28.


SCREENING

Sun 14 Nov at 12.00 Studio

FOR ALL AGES

71 min
Subtitles: Finnish
Language: Silent, Swedish intertitles

Denmark 1979
Original title: Filmens helte
Directed by: Lau Lauritzen Sr.
Screenplay: Johan Hilbard, Alice O'Fredericks
Cinematography: Valdemar Christensen, Carlo Bentsen
Editing: Johan Hilbard
Cast: Carl Schenstrøm, Harald Madsen, Holger Reenberg, Oskar Stribolt, Eli Lehman, Katy Valentin
Production: Palladium Film
Distribution: DFI

KEYWORDS

classic, comedy, silent film

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Probably the most famous comedy duo on the big screen are Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, whose joint career began in 1926. However, they already had predecessors, even in the Nordic countries: Carl Schenström and Harald Madsen, or Fy and Bi, who worked together from 1922 to 1940.

Fy and Bi were not exclusively a national but an international phenomenon. They made films not only in their home country of Denmark, but also in Germany, Sweden, Austria and the United Kingdom. Their works spread even to the United States in the 1920s.

Unlike many other comedians, Schenström and Madsen were not creative talents in the sense of developing their own comedy routines and gag material. The characters were created and the material was mostly provided by Lau Lauritzen Sr., who also directed most of the duo’s films. Lauritzen Sr. was inspired by Cervantes's Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

Lauritzen, who worked at Palladium Film at the time of the creation of Fy and Bi, had specialized in slapstick farce: though the pace of his films was slower and there were fewer gags than in American models. The comedy in the series was down-to-earth, based on long-standing clown tradition. The director emphasized two elements in the characters of the duo, simplicity and warmth.

The relationship between Schenström and Madsen was not very good in private life, but on the big screen the comedy duo captivated the audience for twenty years: a tall melancholy but at the same time quick-tempered man with a moustache and his rather benevolent plump friend. Fy and Bi are also associated with infantilism, both of them are puerile.

The golden age of the Fy and Bi films lasted until the breakthrough of sound film. Although they made comedies until the early 1940s, time and style had already passed them by. Some of the original charm and popularity still remained. One indication of this is that the films were edited into several full-length compilations: the last, Long and Short: The Film Heroes, back in 1979.

- Sauli Pesonen