Montmartre, around 1911

La peur des ombres
R: Unknown (Roméo Bosetti?). D: Léontine (?). P: Pathé frères. Fr 1911/12
Engl. subtitles

“In a playful, reflexive take on the familiar ‘last-minute rescue’ formula, a woman and her housekeeper left alone at home mis-read shadows projected from the street outside and fear a violent assault. Male police officers dispatched to rescue them correctly diagnose the situation, with hilarious results, including a late gender reveal.”

“With threats by the Camorra in all the newspapers, two women are terrified. When they see the shadow of a gun man threatening someone, they telephone the police. There are no credits known for this early suspense movie, and that’s a pity. That’s because it makes use of two bits of technique that were highly unusual in its day. First, it uses shadows to indicate the threat, and terrifying shadows they are too. Second, and perhaps more important, it shows the women calling the police and them responding in a triptych window: women on the left, police sergeant on the right, and officers bicycling in response in the middle. This was two years before Lois Weber made use of the same technique in Suspense.”
IMDb (boblipton)

Le Rembrandt de la rue Lepic
R: Jean Durand. D: Ernest Bourbon, Berthe Dagmar, Gaston Modot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1911
Engl. subtitles

“In Montmartre, a couple buys what they think is a real painting by Rembrandt. But in a typical fashion for Jean Durand and his troupe of acrobats, the film soon turns into a destructive chase of unbelievable proportions. Often called the ‘Pouittes’ (sic!), Durand’s troupe included circus performers and was featured in dozens of comedies shot in and around Paris between 1911 and 1914. In this film, a woman (played by a man in drag) ruins the couple’s painting, causing a chaotic chase scene down the stairs and in and out of a small apartment building, where they wreak havoc in their wake. At the end, the painting is revealed to be a forgery, troubling the cultural values attributed to high art, which combined with popular tropes (slapstick, gender burlesque) turns into another farcical joke.”

>>> Chaos and Destruction

>>> Jean Durand: Zigoto, 1912