Slapsticks by Alice Guy

La femme collante
R: Alice Guy. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1906

“Laughter at gendered bodily upheaval in early accident films is often a hair’s breadth away from the terror of sexual violence and domestic assault. (…) For example, in What Happened in the Tunnel, when the gag goes off, a white woman and a black woman have traded places to thwart a white male harasser. In ‘A Stick Woman’ (i.e. La femme collante), a man physically assaults a house maid in the post office, a horrific scene that gets defused through the sight gag of their faces sticking together from all the postage glue on their lips and tongue. (…) Here, the woman’s unwieldy physically provides comedic compensation for the sexual unavailability of her body.”
Maggie Hennefeld: Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes. Columbia University Press 2018.

La glu
R: Alice Guy. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1907

Le lit à roulettes
R: Alice Guy. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1907

Le frotteur
R: Alice Guy. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1907

Le bonnet à poil
R: Alice Guy. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1907

“(…) Guy was undoubtedly the first woman to direct a film and Gaumont appointed her head of production in 1897, a post she held for nine years. She switched from outdoor shooting to purpose-built sets with Les Mésaventures d’une Tête de Veau (1898) and her films rapidly grew in length from 20-metre vignettes like Les Apaches pas Veinards (1903) to such 250-metre stories as Les Petits Coupeurs de Bois Vert (1904), which was one of the many films she made in this period about children. Guy diversified as much as Méliès and produced religious dramas, fantasies, saucy comedies and animated art tableaux, while also making bold use of superimposition, stop-motion and reverse footage to create her often eye-catching effects.
Guy also nurtured emerging talents, with Ferdinand Zecca, Victorin Jasset and Louis Feuillade all working for her around the turn of the century, as she produced ever-more ambitious pictures like The Life of Christ (1906), which required 25 wooden sets and 300 extras. She also continued to make simple slapstick shorts like La Glu (1907)(…). Very much in the prank tradition of the Lumières’s L’Arroseur arrosée (1895), the action focuses on a small boy with a glue pot, who causes a couple to become trapped on the steps of their house, a pair of respectable ladies to become stuck to a bench and a man to become attached to his bicycle.
Moreover, between 1902-06, Guy also used the Chronophone to make over 100 Phonoscènes, which included musical showcases, literary recitations and even bullfights. Her cameraman on some of these assignments was Herbert Blaché-Bolton, an Englishman of French descent who was nine years her junior when he became both her husband and her boss when the pair relocated to New York to promote Chronophone in 1906.”
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