Max Linder’s Wife inside His Suitcase

Les vacances de Max
R: Max Linder. B: Max Linder. D: Max Linder, Lucy d’Orbel, Georges Gorby. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1913 / 1914

“Linder’s influence extended far beyond Chaplin (…). His screen comedy laid the groundwork for the entirety of the silent comedy era that followed: he made films full of absurd sight gags and slapstick, grounded in character and driven by farcical situations. There’s scarcely a comedian who came in his wake whose work does not bear an overt and demonstrable debt to Linder’s. (…)
The conventional wisdom in film history is that Charlie Chaplin heralded the start of the modern star system. Prior to his success in Keystone films in 1914, the story goes, American movies didn’t bother to even mention the names of the performers — but that changed with Chaplin, whose name became a bankable commodity in itself. This may be true with respect to Hollywood history, but in France, Max Linder was a marquee brand name in comedy years before anyone even heard of Chaplin.
Funnily enough, ‘Max Linder’ wasn’t his real name — he had to conjure up that stage name when his folks objected to his choice of career. He was born Gabriel Leuvielle, son of prosperous winemakers. He had little interest of following in the family business, though, and pursued an acting career. This was too disreputable a profession for Father Leuvielle, who forbade him from using the Leuvielle name. Rechristened ‘Max Linder,’ he was recruited by Pathé in 1905 to appear in screen comedies, and immediately became a sensation. (…)
It was in the earliest, formative years of cinema that Linder made such shorts as Entente Cordiale — involving the slapstick delivery of a piano, years before Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy tried their hands at such a premise. Or Les Vacances de Max, in which he smuggles his wife inside his suitcase, in a strikingly Buster Keatonish mode. Max et Jane veulent faire du theatre is a prototype of a Charley Chase farce, in which the titular Max and Jane try to avoid being set up by their matchmaking friends by donning absurd disguises to put each other off — only to end up falling in love despite the grotesque charades.”
David Kalat: The Fall and Rise of Max Linder
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Entente Cordiale
R: Max Linder. B: Max Linder. D: Max Linder, Harry Fragson, Jane Renouardt, Eugène Rouzier-Dorcières. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1912

Max et Jane veulent faire du théâtre
R: René Leprince / Max Linder. B: Max Linder. D: Max Linder, Jane Renouardt, Henri Collen, Gabrielle Lange, Charles Mosnier. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1911

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