Early Sitcoms: Max Linder (2)

“Before Charlie Chaplin duckwalked into the hearts of early movie goers, there was the innovative Max Linder, the internationally renowned French comic whose slapstick scamperings reigned supreme until the onset of World War I. Born Gabriel-Maximilien Leuviefle in Caveme, France, he began studying drama at 17 and made his on-stage debut in Bordeaux. By 1904, he moved to Paris where he played supporting roles. One year later he was working in movies for Pathe films during the daytime while still continuing his career on stage at night. For his movie gigs he adopted the name Max Linder, but on stage he used his real name. Three years later, Linder opted for a full-time film career. In his silent shorts, Linder usually played a well-dressed dandy from the upper class. In 1910 he began writing and supervising his stories; one year later he was directing all his work. His career reached its apex in 1914. He was then drafted.

While serving, he was gassed and subsequently suffered a major breakdown from which he never completely recovered. After his military stint, he attempted to return to French film, but he found himself a has-been. In late 1916 Essanay made him an offer and Linder went to the US where his poor health continued to hinder him. He managed to produce three films before double pneumonia forced him into a Swiss sanitarium for a year. In 1921, he returned to the States, created his own production company, made three more films, and then returned to Europe to marry. In 1925, after making two more films, the despondent Linder, realizing he would never again be a star, made a suicide pact with his wife. They died together in a Paris hotel. His funny films lay forgotten until they were rediscovered by film historians in the ’60s.”
Sandra Brennan
Silent Hollywood.com

Amoureux de la femme à barbe
R: Unknown. D: Max Linder. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1909

“Dans Amoureux de la femme à barbe, Max Linder fait la cour à une femme dont la pilosité s’avère factice. Le personnage fait preuve des traits de caractère qui lui sont associés, de dandy coureur, dans une structure qui emprunte au film de poursuite une part de sa charpente narrative. Le travestissement y joue un rôle important dans la mesure où la femme à barbe perd sa virilité avec sa barbe, alors que Max affublé d’une peau d’ours fuit celle dont il s’est épris quand elle apparaît pour ce qu’elle est.”

Jean Antoine Gili et Pierre-Emmanuel Jaques, Il cinema ritrovato, XXIIIe édition, Bologne 2009 

L’ingénieux attentat
R: Louis J. Gasnier. B: Max Linder. D: Max Linder, André Urban. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1910

Max Linder pratique tous les sports
R: Max Linder. B: Max Linder,  Armand Massard. D: Max Linder, Lucy d’Orbel, Charles de Rochefort. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1913

“Max reads a newspaper ad, in which a rich American wants to marry an all-around sportsman. WIth an eye to the main chance, he enters, and competes with four other applicants in a decathlon. In the course of this two-reel film, Max — or his stunt double — engages in several of the sports he had performed in earlier comedy shorts: ice skating, boxing, rowing, auto racing, and so forth. The jesting does not begin seriously until the end, but it is still an engaging little comedy from the world’s first comedy superstar.”
IMDb

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