Haunted Spooks. 1920. USA. Directed by Hal Roach. Courtesy of Harold Lloyd Entertainment

This series examines how silent-era slapstick comedy treats social, cultural, and political topics that continue to be central concerns in America today. Rude forms of comedy have long used incendiary subjects like industrialization, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, violence, and substance abuse as vital source material—and enjoyed great success with mass audiences. The exhibition draws on a body of silent work that is a particular strength of the Museum’s film collection. Since these films touch on a number of potentially sensitive issues, each screening features an introduction that will provide context. All films are from the US and are silent, with piano accompaniment by Ben Model. All running times are approximate.

Organized by Charles Silver, Curator, and Ron Magliozzi, Assistant Curator, Research and Collections, Department of Film; Steve Massa, film historian and writer; and Ben Model, film historian and accompanist.

Special thanks to Robert Arkus, Eileen Bowser, and Amy Horschak.

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

If you would like to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA, please contact Scala Archives (all geographic locations) at firenze@scalarchives.com.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.