An elegant, swaggering Parisian dandy

Gontran et la voisine inconnue
R: Unknown. D: René Gréhan. P: Éclair. Fr 1913
Print: EYE
Dutch titles

“[The young dandy] character was the exclusive property of the actor [René] Gréhan, who was, with Andre Deed, one of [Pathe’s] most successful series comics.  In 1907 Gréhan got a better offer at a new competing studio, and his departure left a big gap in the company’s production schedule.  Linder was chosen to fill Gréhan’s shoes, as well as his evening coat, dress shirt, and tie.  Assuming the costume and much of the manner of Gréhan’s character ‘Gontran,’ Linder made, under Gasnier’s direction, Les Debuts d’un patineur/Max Learns to Skate (1907), the first work in which he becomes, recognizably, ‘Max.’  The film was not a hit either with audiences or with Pathé executives, however.  For two years it remained without a sequel, while Linder continued to perform as a lead or secondary character in various other projects for the studio.”
Alan Williams: Republic of Images: A History of French Filmmaking. 1992
Anthony Balducci’s Journal

“Given the 1907-1908 films he (i.e. Max Linder) appeared in as a presumptuos young dandy interested in sports and amusements, one can speculate that the Pathé company may have considered constructing a series around Linder that would complement the Boireau films. For some reason, however, these films did not establish Linder as a major comic, and Pathé seems to have turned to Gréhan, whose elegant, swaggering Parisian dandy, Gontran, might supplement Deed’s work for the company. ”
Richard Abel: The Ciné Goes to Town. French Cinema 1896-1914. Updated and Expanded. Berkeley/Los Angeles/London 1994, p. 237

“Williams claimed that Gréhan was one of Pathé’s early comedy stars and he created a dapper character that Linder later imitated. He doesn’t specify when Gréhan started at the company, but he is clear that the comedian left in 1907. That story doesn’t appear to be true. Gréhan made five or six films for Pathé in 1910, after which he moved to the Éclair Film Company. (…) Abel’s account is closer to the truth than Williams’ account. Abel claimed that Pathé had become disillusioned with Linder, who had failed to catch on with audiences, and brought in Gréhan as a potential replacement. Gréhan may have, in fact, been a potential replacement. Linder had a history of bad health. He had been unable to work due to illness from October, 1908, to March, 1909. He was sidelined again in December, 1910, due to appendicitis. It could be that Pathé brought in Gréhan to satisfy exhibitors in case their fragile star became sick again and was unable to stay on schedule.”
Anthony Balducci