Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Laugh with Max Linder|
Actors: Alta Allen, C.E. Anderson, F.B. Crayne, Pudgy the Dog, Lola Gonzales
Genres: Classics, Comedy
The First Comedy Superstar.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 10/08/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Thanks to the renewed interest in silent films brought about by video technology, a whole new generation is being introduced to the timeless comedy of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and others. But every time you laugh at their antics you should thank Max Linder the French comedian who did it all first.
Max began his film career in 1907 and by 1909 was writing, directing, and starring in his own films built around his character of the dapper dandy dressed in spats and silk top hat. By 1914 he was the highest paid entertainer in the world and had made over 350 films. Mack Sennett and Keystone were just underway and Chaplin had just arrived in America. Then World War I broke out. Max enlisted and was seriously wounded three times. By the time he had sufficiently recovered the world had changed. Chaplin was now the king of comedy having with full acknowledgement borrowed many of Max's gestures and routines. Max was flattered and came to the U.S. in 1917 to make a few short films before going back to France. He returned in 1921, bought a house in Hollywood, and made three feature films. These did not do well at the time and an increasingly depressed Max went back to France where he and his wife committed suicide in 1925. He was 42.
Out of his vast output, only a small fraction have survived. While this DVD is unlikely to bring about a Max Linder revival, it does allow us to see his most famous feature film, an abridged version of another, and some of his pre-war work in France when Max was at the peak of his popularity. SEVEN YEAR'S BAD LUCK (1921) contains the famous broken mirror routine of Max standing before someone else who mimics his actions. This gag was reused by the Marx Brothers in DUCK SOUP and by Lucille Ball and many others. The excerpt from BE MY WIFE (also 1921) has Max staging a fight with himself from behind a curtain. The condition of the prints used for this DVD are pretty good but not great and are probably the best available without the funding for a full scale restoration.
Nevertheless it's great to see Max back up on the screen once again. If you enjoy silent screen comedy then you owe it to yourself to check this disc out and watch the "Professor", as Chaplin called him, show us how it's done. Max Linder was the first comedy superstar and influenced all who came after him from Chaplin to the look of John Astin on THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Thanks to David Shepard and Film Preservation Associates for making these long unseen treasures available. The musical accompaniment by Robert Israel ranging from small orchestra to Fotoplayer (a sort of one man band) is first rate as usual."
Max gets the laughs
Robert Morris | San Francisco | 05/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A case can be made that Max Linder is as important a contributor to the development of silent screen comedy as Charlie Chaplin. Like Chaplin, Linder's creative output spanned a long period, almost 20 years from his beginnings in 1905. This collection is therefore very important to collectors of film comedy -- it provides a glimpse in DVD of what film comedy was like before Keystone and Chaplin. It contains 4 short films from 1912-1913 made in France for Pathe, and 2 features made in America around 1921, Seven Years Bad Luck and Be My Wife (the latter is only an excerpt, and it's not clear from the liner notes whether this means that only fragments of the film exist, or that someone edited the complete film down).
It''s clear even from this small sample that Linder always had a clear idea about what film comedy should be like -- there's a continuity in the flow of comic ideas between the early films and later films. Linder's movie character offers an interesting contrast with those of Chaplin, Lloyd and Keaton. His character is handsome, wealthy, sophisticated and clever -- he is never the dysfunctional social underdog of Chaplin or Keaton, and he never needs to fight his own limitations in order to succeed as Lloyd's character does. He is also incurably flirtatious, and can be a bit of a rogue -- for this reason his character often resembles that of Douglas Fairbanks. His favorite props include shoes or other articles of clothing, dogs and cats (large and small), and attractive women. The only obstacles to his success are bad luck or bad timing, which he invariably overcomes to win the girl.
Linder could come up with remarkably funny comic ideas, often involving clever visual illusion. In Be My Wife, Linder fakes a break-in of his girl friend's house in order to convince her doubting aunt that he is a worthy suiter. He then emerges on the scene in order to subdue the "intruder", doing a funny off-screen pantomime with two pairs of shoes that suggest two men fighting. An absurd scene of him disguised as a scarecrow with a goofy smiley face also is remarkably funny, as he abuses both an annoying dog and his rival suitor before he is exposed and subdued by the broom-wielding aunt. Seven Years Bad Luck contains the famous mirror illusion, where two men dressed alike imitate the actions of a mirror reflection; it is invented here and copied later by many, including the Marx Brothers. Linder's version of this gag is far superior to the copies, and he develops and varies the situation with great timing and comic effect.
The early short films are less funny to modern viewers but interesting as examples of the polite social comedies that were typical of the pre-Keystone era. The best is Max Sets the Style, where Max, forced to wear an old pair of shoes to his wedding, is ostracized until he proves, again by deception, that it's the new style. The film closes with everyone wearing old shoes.
This collection is not perfect -- there is virtually no background information and even the dates of the early films are not provided -- but the quality of the prints is good and it's worth the investment."
A nice tribute to the very first movie star
Snorre Smari Mathiesen | Norway | 05/31/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"LAUGH WITH MAX LINDER, the best DVD dedicated to the great French comedian so far, includes one of his American full-length features, SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK (1921), and four of his early Pathé-shorts made in France, TROUBLES OF A GRASSWIDOWER (1908), LOVE'S SURPRISES (1913), MAX TAKES A PICTURE (1913) and MAX SETS THE STYLE (1914), and an excerpt from another of his later features, BE MY WIFE (1921).
The films are generally clear and well restored considering their age, especially the first feature whose source material is a 35mm-print. The shorts are amusing, and SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK and BE MY WIFE are classics, filled with very clever gags, the most famous of them is "the mirror routine," later re-used by the Marx Brothers in DUCK SOUP.
I am one of Linder's greatest admirers and wish more of his work was available. He was the greatest comedian on the globe in 1914, but today he is very unfairly overshadowed by Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd and even Roscoe Arbuckle. Hopefully, this dvd is only the first out of several."
Vive Monsieur Linder!
Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 07/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The feature and short films contained on this disc give a wonderful picture of the talents and comedy stylings of Max Linder, the world's first recognisable screen character and movie star. 'Seven Years Bad Luck' is an incredibly funny film, as is the excerpt from 'Be My Wife'; one wonders where the rest of 'Be My Wife' is, if this is the only footage left or if the complete print survives, held hostage in some archive or museum somewhere, unreleased to the general public. The shorts are quite old, from the Aughts and Teens, and therefore quite short even in comparison to the average comedy two-reelers one is familar with from early comedy, but for their short length they reveal a funny, inventive, hard-working comedian who knew what would make people laugh, found a formula, and stuck with it. The material on this disc is so wonderful that one wonders why more of this genius comic legend's surviving films haven't been released yet; of his around 500 films he ever made, only about a fifth still survive, and not all of those in the greatest condition, but even so, there's a lot of material for a lot more discs showcasing Max to be issued. From the little I've seen on this disc, I'm already a big fan of the fellow."