I have been intrigued with the early, silent Foxy Grandpa films (1902-1904) since first reading about them in Gerald Mast’s seminal book, The Comic Mind: Comedy and the Movies. Here is Mast’s description of a typical title in the series, Foxy Grandpa Shows the Boys a Trick or Two with the Tramp: “Foxy accosts a tramp sleeping on a bench, fights him, and drives him offscreen. The title is almost longer than the film (it is certainly more interesting).”on the YouTube machine.
It was only while researching this column that I fell down the “Foxy Grandpa” rabbit hole. (Indeed, one of these primitive shorts could very well have been called Foxy Grandpa Falls Down the Rabbit Hole with the Boys.) Foxy Grandpa actually had a literary origin, starting life as a daily comic strip by cartoonist Carl E. Schultze. It was hugely popular and spun off both stage and screen adaptations and a party game. The comic strips were later collected in book form, which ran to more than thirty volumes. In 1923, a Foxy Grandpa radio program began broadcasting.
That’s a lot of Foxy Grandpa.
I throw down the gauntlet here to all boutique physical media companies that are content to release and rerelease the same twelve or fifteen popular cult movies on disc. Why not perform a deep dive into cultural history and restore and release “The Complete Foxy Grandpa?” I’m waiting for the day when that shiny brown UPS truck delivers a beautiful box set with every known FG film transferred in 4K with plentiful bonus materials, including a newly commissioned documentary from Daniel Griffith’s Ballyhoo Films, titled Just Who in the Hell was Foxy Grandpa Anyway? I expect nothing less than audio commentaries for every short, featuring Paul Thomas Anderson, Rudy Behlmer, Peter Bogdanovich, Patrick Bromley, John Carpenter, Francis Ford Coppola, Joe Dante, David Desser, Kat Ellinger, Lee Gambin, Tom Gunning, Werner Herzog, Peter Jackson, Elric Kane, John Landis, Richard Linklater, Ben Mankewicz, Leonard Maltin, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, Robert Sklar, Jacqueline Stewart, Quentin Tarantino, Tom Weaver, Edgar Wright, and Yours Truly.