How did the “workers carry glass pane across street, someone smashes through it” thing seen in movies come about?

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How did the “workers carry glass pane across street, someone smashes through it” thing seen in movies come about?

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Similar types of gags were used in early slapstick movies in the silent movie era. Film stars such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin both performed several similar gags with great success. However it often involved ladders or planks rather then a pane of glass. Glass is heavy so you rarely see people carrying them for long distances like that. We first started seeing the same gag with glass in the 70s. First in Italian movies but it eventually made its way into Hollywood as well.

In early silent movies the picture quality was relatively poor and large panes of glass were expensive, so large panes of glass were handled with extreme care. This meant though you could set up a film scene with people appearing to carry a pane of glass and the audience believe it even if the glass wasn’t there, so you could create a running gag with someone appearing to step between two people carrying a pane of glass and maintain the gag until in the final scene someone actually step through a real pane of glass.

You can make a fake glass known as sugar glass. Its cheap, easy and shatters just like real glass.
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_glass](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_glass)
Cue a recipe for a cheap, safe and very dramatic stunt.

As to why it was often done in the two workers setup? Well I can only speculate on that. But it did provide two people to respond to the calamity, without needing to do a jarring cut to whoever would be upset by the broken glass.

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