Monty Banks

Personal Info

Known For Directing

Known Credits 76

Gender Male

Birthday 1897-07-15

Day of Death 1950-01-07 (52 years old)

Place of Birth Cesena, Forlì-Cesena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Also Known As

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Biography

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".

Directing

1941
1939
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1931
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1928
1924

Acting

1961
1952
1951
1945
1941
1940
1939
1936
1935
1935
1934
1933
1933
1933
1932
1931
1930
1929
1929
1928
1928
1927
1927
1927
1925
1925
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1922
1922
1921
1921
1921
1920
1920
1920
1919
1919
1919
1919
1918
1918
1918
1918
1916

Writing

1940
1932
1930
1930
1927
1927
1925

Production

1931
1931
1927
1924
1923

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