"...every expression and gesture counts"
Max Linder made several hundred short films (most now lost) as 'Max', a dapper and loveable upper-class twit. The films stand apart from
most other comedies of the silent era, relying less on physical humor and more on story, situation and character. When Max is bedeviled
by everyday trivialities in modern life, he seems closer to modern sitcom characters. As a handsome and romantic buffoon, Max brings to mind
the comic characters of Marcello Mastroianni.
One critic at that time accurately placed Linder's work in the context of his contemporaries:
Max Linder (as Max) is an adroit and able comedian. It is a mistake to cast him in burlesque, knockabout farce. He is at his best in finely tempered comedies, where every expression and gesture counts. In fact, Linder is a relief after the exaggerated, hurried action comedy work which many American directors think necessary.
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, Jun. 25, 1913)
Max, the familiar unknown
Comically darting around in a semi-squat was made famous by, and is now named after, Groucho Marx. But before Groucho even started in comedy,
and was still a teenager in a straight singing act with his brothers in vaudeville, Max amused his international audience with what we now
call "The Groucho Walk".
And when Max goes full-on wacky, it becomes easier to see where those nutty Looney Tunes characters came from (and maybe why toons always
Watching Max Linder films it becomes clear how he was unlike other comics before him (from what we can determine in the remaining archives),
yet - directly or indirectly - influenced so much of comedy that came after him.