Physician Of The Castle/A Narrow Escape (Le médecin du château)

A home invasion, a phone call of distress, and a race to the rescue trigger a parade of films that shows no signs of ending.

The archetypal "invasion-call-rescue" film

No credits have been found for the film, so cast and crew are unknown.

The film is cited as one of the first screen appearances of the telephone. But even more significantly, it is credited with introducing a pattern that continues to be used to thrill audiences: the invasion-call-rescue plot formula.

The story is as simple as it is effective. Two men execute a scheme for robbing a doctor's home. First, as a ruse to get the doctor out of the house, they send a bogus telegram claiming the doctor is needed at the castle. Then, after taking the maid down for the count, they force their way in. Meanwhile, the doctor's wife and son coolly set up barricades that slow the attackers, giving her time to phone the castle. The doctor races home with police, where they capture the attackers. The doctor then ever so briefly salutes his wife for maintaining a stiff upper lip (blink and you'll miss it), completely ignores his traumatized son, before taking care of the important business of escorting the police out and giving the finger to the robbers.

For a complete plot summary, fascinating detailed analysis, and discussion of who made the film (suggesting Lucien Nonguet), see The Cine-Tourist. As stated there: The film has two strong themes at its core: threats to bourgeois comfort and communication over distance. Key motifs for this last theme are the motor-car, the telegram and the telephone.

The antecedents and legacy of the film are listed in the discussion of the invasion-call-rescue plot formula.

Related:

The Lonely Villa

To con The Master, a diabolical mulatto dons a whiteface then pulls a Stepin Fetchit to sneak his gang into the inner sanctum of Pure White Virgins, intent on stealing hair ribbons to add to their arsenal of kinky chicken chokers. When The Master learns his monopoly on hair ribbons is threatened, he immediately summons The Klan, but they were busy with their own chicken-choking, so instead he grabs a gypsy cab and arrives in time to restore the Confederate South, in this D.W. Griffith parody of "The Bitch Of A Nation" (which he hadn`t filmed yet), where the rescue ride won`t start, the rescue gun won`t shoot, and the rescue phone goes dead.

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Suspense/The Face Downstairs

Even though D.W. Griffith led the pack in quantity of invasion-call-rescue films, the pinnacle of development of the form during that period came from this lesser-known crew. With its stark title and startling visuals, more realistic characters, less reliance on explicit narrative and instead favoring more subtle story-telling, this bears less resemblance to its contemporaries than to the films Hitchcock (known as 'The Master Of Suspense') would later create.

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