Friday, July 14, 2017
Happy Bastille Day 2017 from Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog
On Bastille Day, we pay tribute to one of the first movie comedians: the one, the only Max Linder. While Max may have not been the first comedian to star in a movie - that would very likely be André Deed (1879-1940) - the dapper Parisian boulevardier was certainly among the first silver screen comedians to headline a popular continuing series.
Possibly as a response to Linder's success, two more overtly physical European comedians, Marcel Perez and Ferdinand "Polidor" Guillaume (a.k.a. Tontolini) would soon launch their careers in silent film comedy.
Unquestionably, Max Linder's series for Pathé Frères proved to be an enormous influence on Mack Sennett. In the 1909 Biograph short subject The Curtain Pole, directed by D.W. Griffith, none other than Mack himself plays Monsieur DuPont, in a rowdier and more slapsticky interpretation of what Max had been doing.
Author Trav S.D. elaborated further on the influence of Max Linder's comedy on Keystone and beyond in his piece For Bastille Day: How the French Invented Film Comedy, excerpted from his book Chain Of Fools: Silent Comedy And Its Legacies, From Nickelodeons To YouTube.
Max Linder certainly ranked highly among the key influences on his friend and colleague Charlie Chaplin.
This writer and silent comedy aficionado also ascertains a strong link between Max' films and those of Charley Parrott Chase. It is highly likely that both Charley and key collaborator Leo McCarey, like Chaplin, were among Linder's biggest fans. Slapstick is frequently merely incidental for both Linder and Chase; the comedies - like those of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew - are often farcical and situational at their core. Chase took Linder's penchant for unwittingly getting into embarrassing situations and took it several steps farther in a brilliant series of Hal Roach Studio silents in 1924-1929.
In Sitting Pretty, a 1924 2-reeler written and directed by McCarey and Chase, Charley even reprised "the mirror gag" from Seven Years Bad Luck, performing it with, as his double, his brother (and director of numerous Laurel & Hardy short subjects in the early 1930's) James Parrott, (onscreen) A.K.A. Paul Parrott.
Max' daughter Maud, an infant at the time of his death in 1925, discovered his films in college and spent much of her life restoring his legacy as a moviemaking and comedy innovator. She wrote, produced and narrated a documentary, The Man In The Silk Hat about the life, times and films of the father she never knew. Here it is, in four parts:
On Bastille Day, we silent film aficionados at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog tip our silk top hats with the utmost respect to Max and Maud Linder, who did much to keep her father's name and films alive.
For comedy buffs interested in Much Ado About Max, check out the Kino Video collection of Linder comedies by Lobster Films.
There is also a well-researched and annotated Max Linder website, complete with a filmography.