Richard Smith (silent film director)

Richard Smith (silent film director)
Richard Smith
Born September 17, 1886(1886-09-17)
Cleveland, Ohio
United States
Died 1937 (aged 50)
Los Angeles, California
United States
Other names Dick Smith
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, actor
Spouse Alice Howell

Richard Smith (1886–1937), also known as Dick Smith, was a screenwriter, actor, and film director. A comedian active in the vaudeville era, Smith met his wife Alice Howell in 1910 and the two performed together as "Howell and Howell". After working under direction of Mack Sennett at the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company in New York, Smith moved to Los Angeles, California. Smith and his wife starred in reels together produced by L-KO Kompany.

While Howell was contracted at Universal Studios, Smith directed her in films described in the book Clown Princes and Court Jesters as, "some of Universal's most memorable comedies of the twenties".[1] With fellow colleague Vin Moore, Smith directed actor Oliver Hardy in the 1920 film Distilled Love. Smith directed the Marx Brothers in 1921 in their first film, titled Humor Risk, which has since been lost.[2][3][4] In 1925, Smith's directing work included films starring Bert Roach, Neely Edwards, and Charles Puffy. His contributions at Universal included a series of comedy films called "The Collegians".



Richard Smith was active in the field of comedy, and participated in the vaudeville scene.[5] He met his wife Alice Howell when she was a member of a production by DeWolf Hopper, in 1910.[5] The two utilized the title of a previously known vaudeville group, and performed together as "Howell and Howell".[6][7] The Howell and Howell duo performed together for three years.[8][9] Their performances included burlesque and vaudeville.[10] Mack Sennett directed Smith at the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company in New York.[5] Sennett offered Smith a chance to go with him when he started the company Keystone Studios, but he declined the opportunity.[5] Due to a medical condition, Smith decided to switch his residence from New York to Los Angeles, California, where his wife began to gain roles in the film industry under Sennett in 1914.[5] The two starred together in reels including Dad's Dollars and Dirty Doings, a comedy by L-KO Kompany.[11] Under the production company Reelcraft Pictures, Smith wrote and directed several films which his wife starred in.[5] In the book Clown Princes and Court Jesters, authors Kalton C. Lahue and Samuel Gill describe these films directed by Smith and starring Howell as "low-burlesque charades and as such were slanted toward the neighborhood and second-run houses, where they found receptive audiences."[1]

After his wife became an actress in features at Universal Studios in 1921, Smith directed her in multiple comedies.[5] Lahue and Gill characterize these films as, "some of Universal's most memorable comedies of the twenties", and note, "Starting with the usual framework provided by the situation comedy format, directors William Watson and Richard Smith inserted a sufficient amount of subdued slapstick to flavor these single reels with laugh after laugh."[1] Comedian Oliver Hardy acted under the direction of Smith and associate Vin Moore, in the 1920 film Distilled Love;[12] Smith also had an acting role in the film as an artist.[13] He served as director in 1921 of Humor Risk,[2] the first film starring the Marx Brothers.[3][4] Smith directed actors including Bert Roach and Neely Edwards in the 1925 film A Nice Pickle, and Charles Puffy the same year in Muddled Up.[14] After Howell retired from film in the 1926,[15] Smith kept up with his contracted work at Universal and wrote a set of comedy films called "The Collegians".[5] Smith died in 1937, at fifty years old.[5]


Year Film Role
1914 Gussle, the Golfer Actor: "Card Player"
1914 The Noise of Bombs Actor
1915 A Bathhouse Tragedy Actor
1915 A Stool Pigeon's Revenge Actor
1915 Disguised But Discovered Actor
1915 Easy Money Actor
1915 From Beanery to Billions Actor
1915 Poor But Dishonest Actor
1915 Scandal in the Family Actor
1915 Too Many Bachelors Actor: "One of Peggy's Suitors"
1915 Under the Table Actor
1916 A Rural Romance Actor
1916 Dad's Dollars and Dirty Doings Actor
1916 Flirtation a la Carte Actor
1916 Her Naughty Eyes Actor
1916 How Stars Are Made Actor
1916 Saving Susie from the Sea Actor
1916 Shooting His 'Art Out Actor
1916 The Bankruptcy of Boggs and Schultz Actor
1916 The Double's Troubles Actor
1916 The Great Smash Actor
1917 Double Dukes Director
1917 Fatty's Feature Fillum Actor: "Desmond"
1917 Hearts and Flour Director
1917 Little Bo-Peep Director
1917 Street Cars and Carbuncles Director
1917 That Dawgone Dog Director
1917 The Sign of the Cucumber Director
1917 Vamping Reuben's Millions Director
1918 Ambrose and His Widow Actor
1918 Ash-Can Alley Director
1918 Scars and Bars Actor
1919 Bungs and Bunglers Actor
1919 Cymbelles and Boneheads Actor
1919 Flips and Flops Actor
1919 Healthy and Happy Actor
1919 Jazz and Jailbirds Actor: "Thief"
1919 Let Fido Do It Actor
1919 Mates and Models Actor: "A Rival Artist"
1919 A Rag Time Romance Actor
1919 Squabs and Squabbles Actor
1919 Switches and Sweeties Actor
1919 Tootsies and Tamales Actor
1919 Yaps and Yokels Actor: "The Father"
1920 Cinderella Cinders Actor: "The Butler"
1920 Dames and Dentists Actor
1920 Distilled Love Director, Actor: "The Color Blind Artist"
1920 Lunatics in Politics Director, Actor
1920 Squirrel Time Director
1921 Humor Risk Director
1923 Chasing Wealth Writer
1923 Little Miss Hollywood Actor
1923 Taking Orders Actor
1924 Feather Pushers Writer
1924 Green Tees Director
1924 Horse Play Director
1924 Marry When Young Writer
1924 Mind Your Doctor Director, Writer
1924 Ship Ahoy! Writer
1924 The Jail Bird Writer
1924 The Mandarin Writer
1925 A Nice Pickle Director, Writer
1925 Black Gold Bricks Director
1925 City Bound Director
1925 Locked Out Writer
1925 Muddled Up Director, Writer
1925 Nearly Rich Writer
1925 Nicely Rewarded Writer
1925 Papa's Pet Director
1925 Pleasure Bent Writer
1925 Rolling Stones Writer
1925 Sleeping Sickness Director
1925 Speak Easy Director, Writer
1925 Tenting Out Director
1925 The Cat's Whiskers Director, Writer
1925 The Greenhorn Writer
1925 The Lost Cord Director, Writer
1925 The Lucky Accident Writer
1925 The Milky Way Director, Writer
1925 Under a Spell Director
1925 Unwelcome Director
1926 Fresh Paint Director, Writer
1926 Wide Open Faces Director, Writer
1926 Babes in the Sawdust Director, Writer
1926 Do or Bust Director, Writer
1926 Find the Woman Actor: "George Stevenson"
1926 Help Wanted Director, Writer
1926 Hook or Crook Director, Writer
1926 Horse Laugh Director, Writer
1926 It's All Over Now Director, Writer
1926 Love's Labor Lost Director, Writer
1926 Mixed Doubles Director, Writer
1926 Nobody Loves Me Director, Writer
1926 The College Yell Director, Writer
1926 The Crowned Prince Director, Writer
1926 The Optimist Director, Writer
1926 The Phoney Express Director, Writer
1926 The Thirteenth Man Director, Writer
1926 What Price Pleasure? Director, Writer
1926 Where's My Baby? Director, Writer
1926 Who's Next? Director, Writer
1926 Wild Bill Director, Writer
1926 Wise or Otherwise Director
1926 Wives and Women Director
1927 A One Man Show Director
1927 A Sleepy Time Pal Director, Writer
1927 Ali Gazam Director, Writer
1927 Baby Brother Actor
1927 High and Dizzy Director, Writer
1927 Oh! What a Kick! Director
1927 Red Suspenders Director
1927 Surprised Honey Writer
1927 Why Mules Leave Home Director
1929 Watch Your Friends Director
1936 Fibbing Fibbers Writer

See also


  1. ^ a b c Lahue, Kalton C.; Samuel Gill (1970). Clown Princes and Court Jesters. pp. 185–189. ISBN 0498069494. 
  2. ^ a b Koszarski, Richard (2008). Hollywood On the Hudson: Film and Television in New York from Griffith to Sarnoff. Rutgers University Press. pp. 93, 192. ISBN 0813542936. Retrieved February 12, 2011. "the first film, Humor Risk, had been completed, directed by Dick Smith from a script by Jo Swerling" 
  3. ^ a b Mitgang, Lee (September 28, 1990). "Groucho left a legacy of monkey business". Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal. Associated Press: pp. 1D, 2D.,7993288&dq=Marx+Brothers. Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Merrick, Mollie (April 30, 1932). "'Marxmania' Result of Fortunate Accidents: Odd Happenings On, Off Stage Developed Famous Marx Style". The Calgary Daily Herald. N.A.N.A. Inc.: p. 11.,6839224&dq=Marx+Brothers. Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Slide, Anthony (1998). Eccentrics of Comedy. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. 75–80. ISBN 0810835347. Retrieved February 17, 2011. 
  6. ^ Slide, Anthony (2002). Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses. The University Press of Kentucky. pp. 135–137. ISBN 978-0813122496. 
  7. ^ Slide, Anthony (1970). Aspects of American Film History Prior to 1920. Scarecrow Press. pp. 11–15. ISBN 0810811308. 
  8. ^ Quirk, James R. (1917). "Questions and Answers". Photoplay Magazine (Chicago, Illinois: Photoplay Publishing Company) 13-14: p. 98. 
  9. ^ Mitchell, Glenn (1997). The Chaplin Encyclopedia. B.T. Batsford. p. 136. ISBN 0713479388. 
  10. ^ Richard Smith (silent film director) at AllRovi
  11. ^ "Dad's Dollars and Dirty Doings". Newburgh Daily News (Newburgh, New York): p. 8. March 30, 1916. 
  12. ^ Smith, Richard; Vin Moore (1920). Distilled Love (Silent film). United States: Reelcraft Pictures. 
  13. ^ Distilled Love at AllRovi
  14. ^ Braff, Richard E. (1998). The Universal Silents: A Filmography of the Universal Motion Picture Manufacturing Company, 1912-1929. McFarland & Company. pp. 333, 345. ISBN 0786402873. 
  15. ^ Couderc, Jean-Jacques (in French). Les Petits Maitres du Burlesque Americain, 1909-1929. CNRS. pp. 481–485. ISBN 2271056918. 

Further reading

  • Braff, Richard E. (2002). The Braff Silent Short Film Working Papers. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0786410310. 

External links

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