Monty Banks

Monty Banks

Monty Banks was a short, stocky but somehow debonair Italian-born comic actor, later also writer and director. In the US from 1914, he first appeared on stage in musical comedy and cabaret. By 1917 he was working as a dancer in New York's Dominguez Cafe. After this he turned to films, acting and doing stunt work at Keystone, Universal and for Al Christie. Changing his name from Mario Bianchi to Monty Banks may have been prompted by Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle as a passing reference to his playing '"montebanks". By 1919 Banks had moved to Vitagraph to play a villain in The Grocery Clerk (1919), foil to star comic Larry Semon. Banks first came to the fore in his own right as star of the "Welcome Comedies" made by Warner Brothers. He spent the early 1920s at Fox and Grand Asher, graduating to writing and directing two-reel comedies with himself as the star. Most noteworthy entries in regard to inventive sight gags and Mack Sennett--style madcap plots are Pay or Move (1924) and The Golf Bug (1924). The success of this series prompted Banks to create an independent production company, the Monty Banks Pictures Corporation, in conjunction with writer/director Howard Estabrook. He made several feature-length films for Pathe, including Play Safe (1927)) (generally considered his best work), which featured a climactic runaway train sequence. This style of fast-action slapstick made it inevitable that Banks suffered more than his fair share of injuries, especially since he continued to do many of his own stunts. From the late 1920s Banks worked in England and made several appearances in sound films. However, his accent proved to be something of an obstacle. He therefore decided, after 1930, to concentrate on directing and producing. He helmed four features starring the popular entertainer Gracie Fields, who became his second wife in 1940. In 1935 he directed a well-received George Formby comedy, No Limit (1935), about the TT motorcycle races on the Isle of Man, which were shot on location there. With the outbreak of World War II Banks--being an Italian citizen--would have faced internment in England as an enemy alien. He therefore deemed it necessary to flee to Canada, and from there to the neutral United States. He eventually obtained American citizenship, for which he had applied years earlier, but had forgotten to submit the necessary paperwork. Back in Hollywood he ended up at 20th Century-Fox, directing Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in Great Guns (1941), arguably one of their lesser efforts. Banks died of a heart attack during a trip through Italy in January 1950, aged just 52. Sadly, the majority of his one- and two-reelers are now considered lost films. As a result, his status as a leading comic of the silent screen may have somewhat diminished--except, perhaps, in his home town of Cesena, where a foundation was established in his honor (the "Aula Didattica Monty Banks"), offering students "practical courses on experimental aspects of video production".
    Known for
    Directing
    Place of birth
    Cesena, Forlì-Cesena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
    Birthday
    7/14/1897
Blood and Sand
Blood and Sand
6.4
Elstree Story
0
The Grocery Clerk
The Grocery Clerk
4.8
The Slappiest Days of Our Lives
The Slappiest Days of Our Lives
0
The Covered Schooner
0
Wedding Bells
0
The Church Mouse
The Church Mouse
4.5
Africa F.O.B.
0
Olympic Honeymoon
0
A Scrap of Paper
5
Don't Park Here
Don't Park Here
4
Chasing Choo Choos
Chasing Choo Choos
4
Love
Love
6.4
Flying Luck
Flying Luck
0
Brilliantine the Bull Fighter
Brilliantine the Bull Fighter
0
Oils Well!
Oils Well!
0
Hot Sands
0
For the Love of Mike
0
Shipyard Sally
Shipyard Sally
4
Nearly Married
Nearly Married
0
Queen of Hearts
Queen of Hearts
0
Cold Hearts and Hot Flames
Cold Hearts and Hot Flames
0
Days of Thrills and Laughter
Days of Thrills and Laughter
5.5
You Made Me Love You
You Made Me Love You
6.8
Where Is My Wife?
Where Is My Wife?
0
A Bedroom Scandal
0
Heads We Go
Heads We Go
0
The Compulsory Husband
The Compulsory Husband
0
Week-End Wives
8
Atlantic
Atlantic
4.8
Adam's Apple
Adam's Apple
0
A Perfect Gentleman
A Perfect Gentleman
7
So You Won't Talk
So You Won't Talk
0
Man of the Moment
Man of the Moment
5
The Golf Bug
0
Taxi Please
0
The Belles of Liberty
0
Horse Shoes
Horse Shoes
0
Keep Smiling
Keep Smiling
0
A Bell for Adano
A Bell for Adano
5.5
Too Much Johnson
Too Much Johnson
0
Camping Out
Camping Out
5
The Sheriff
The Sheriff
0
In and Out
0
Did She Do Wrong?
0
Leave It to Me
Leave It to Me
0
Tonight's the Night - Pass It On
Tonight's the Night - Pass It On
0
The Garage
The Garage
6.1
Derby Day
0
Pay or Move
5
Always Late
Always Late
0
Six A.M.
Six A.M.
8.5
Falling in Love
0
Play Safe
Play Safe
0
The Purple Mask
The Purple Mask
0
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