An Early Screwball Comedy

Le baromètre de la fidélité
R: Georges Monca. D: Max Linder, Jeanne Marnac. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1909

“It is clear that the setup will result in disaster, but it is the way that the film goes about delivering its climax that is both satisfying and amusing. Yet again, Linder’s physical movements are impeccable in these final movements, every gesture is so considered as he manages to deliver his inimitable performance without ever over-exaggerating or playing down a particular comic moment. Linder succeeds where so many other actors fail in silent film: communicating with his audience without them ever wishing he was able to utter a single word.
Although we would struggle to find a fidelity barometer in a modern day romantic comedy, the entire structure of Le baromètre de la fidélité is genre specific to the romantic comedy, with several considerable exceptions. As with film of the same year Princess Nicotine, the humour is dark and sassy. Its brand of humour makes it a forerunner for the screwball comedies of the thirties and forties. The film oozes with a level of charm and cheekiness that you will rarely find in a modern romantic comedy; for example, the lack of moralising makes a most welcome change.”
Film: Ab Initio

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