Works, By Date: Pre-1910 (121)

Total: 315 works

Pre-1901 (12)

Tables Turned on the Gardener/The Sprayer Sprayed (L'Arroseur arrosé)

Considered the earliest known instance of film comedy, and the first use of film to portray a fictional story. Also a seminal work in the field of Internet porn, as the first work in the older-male-spanks-twink genre.

A Terrible Night (Une nuit terrible)

Man's sleep disturbed by a giant bug. This gag is expanded in 'The Farmer's Troubles in a Hotel' (1902), then later refined in Max Linder's 1911 'Une nuit agitee' [Star Film 26]

The Devil's Castle/The Haunted Castle/The House of the Devil (Le manoir du diable)

The Devil plays tricks, some (bats, shifting furniture) later used in the 1902 'The Farmer's Troubles in a Hotel'. [Star Film 78-80]

The White Caps

The two men renown as pioneers of early US cinema, Edwin S. Porter and D.W. Griffith, shared another claim to fame/infamy: each created a work inspired by Thomas Dixon Jr.'s 1905 The Clansman. Griffith's 1915 film The Birth of a Nation was adapted from the stage version of the novel. Edwin S. Porter was inspired by the novel to create this film. According to Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company, Edison advertisements held a pro-vigilante view, proclaiming: A lawless and criminal element almost invariably accompanied the advance guard of civilization and to keep this element in check the law abiding citizens were compelled to secretly organize themselves for their own protection...We have portrayed in Motion Pictures, in a most vivid and realistic manner, the method employed by the “White Caps” to rid the community of undesirable citizens.

While the White Caps role here as Morality Police may seem relatively benign compared to the lynch justice in The Birth of a Nation, the book also points out: This film narrative exactly parallels an earlier account of “White Cap” activity in a turn-of-the-century newspaper. In the newspaper account, the tar clogged up the man's pores and he eventually died.

Life Of An American Policeman

Another Edison production from Squaresville, that compensates with length for what it lacks in interest. Two years after exciting audiences with the emblematic shot in 'The Great Train Robbery' and Porter still does not use close-ups, resulting in faceless characters without emotion.

La Polka des Trottins

The Phonoscène was an antecedent of music video and is regarded as a forerunner of sound film. It combined a sound recording with a film shot with actors lip-synching to the sound recording. The recording and film were synchronized by a mechanism ('Chronophone') patented by Léon Gaumont in 1902.

Featured elements:

The Cruel Mother (La marâtre/The Stepmother)

Relax - it's not an attack on motherhood. It's just another shot at the traditional whipping post: the stepmother. No new ground covered here, as everyone who's been subjected to fairy tales learned that stepmothers are evil (usually long before learning what the word 'stepmother' means). But be warned that the child beating scenes are not for the squeamish.

The Game-Keeper's Son (Le Fils du garde chasse)

The game-keeper's son witnesses his father's death while chasing a poacher, then picks up the pursuit himself. Interestingly, it's not clear whether the father is murdered, or dies accidentally after failing to stop in time - and then the same ambiguity occurs again at the end.

The Truth Behind the Ape-Man (La vérité sur l'homme-singe)

Notable for an early use of inter-cutting for comic effect (in a running gag), and the manic performance of the uncredited lead as ape-man (shades of Harpo). Also impressed by how efffective the wordless storytelling was. Or maybe not: almost all the online reviews I read were either baffled or off the mark. But if you're feeling the need for clues, there's a detailed breakdown at:

1908 (12)

The Torn Trousers/In A Difficult Position (Mon Pantalon Est Décousu)

Max uses finesse to try to hide a rip in his trousers during a dance. This is quintessential Max: the dapper and loveable upper-class twit whose efforts to impress ladies crash and burn while he tries to keep face, in the modern man's dilemma of maintaining the delusion of stability as his world falls apart.

His First Cigar (Premier Cigare d'un Collegien)

This is not Max, the dapper and loveable upper-class twit, but appears to be the same schoolboy in 'In Love With The Bearded Woman' (same uniform and still living with parents), who takes a crack at cigar-smoking. Closeup shots showcase Linder's remarkable expressive abilities, as he demonstrates how to choke with finesse.

Troubles Of A Grasswidower (Vive La Vie de Garçon)

Max has a wife who tires of his annoying behavior and returns to her mother. At first, Max is quite pleased to have the house all to himself. But he quickly discovers that even the most basic domestic chores can be fraught with difficulty. Introduces the Crazy Max dance

She Would Be An Actress

Intense drama unfolds when wife must choose between the two greatest joys in her life: dancing on stage, and whacking her hubby upside the head. What will she choose: the glamour of stage life, or the fulfillment of pummeling Papa?

Drunkard's Child

Smelly old geezer flashes fat cash to lure a young boy. Then, when boy's mom croaks, he seizes the opportunity to bumrush dad from his own house and snatch the boy. Finally, dad gets snuffed out when geezer's crony pumps lead into dad's back, and authorities bestow blessings on the snatch&snuff - with no one once bothering to ask the kid what he would like. Stats: in this under-7 minutes short, the serial flasher flashes his wallet 3 times. Good clean family fun film.

The Unexpected Guest

Though we see the unexpected guest two years after its conception was hinted at, making it at least 15 months old, it appears to be still an infant!

In Love With The Bearded Woman (Amoureux de la Femme à Barbe)

This is not Max, the dapper and loveable upper-class twit, but appears to be the same schoolboy in "His First Cigar" (same uniform and still living with parents), who now has lovesick eyes for big bush.

The Doctor's Bride/An Evil Thought Thwarted

Geezer Alert! Next time you old farts are out cruising for young hotties, carry along this flick to show her why a boring bourgeois baldy's better than a hot young hunk. Guaranteed to thwart her evil thoughts - and let you put yours in action. Or at least give you both a good laugh.

Too Much Beauty (Cretinetti che bello!/Troppo Bello)

When Cretinetti is invited to a wedding, he heads out in his most dapper looks - thus making him irresistable to every woman who sees him (including the bride!). A setup for yet another remake of 1904's 'Personal' - with a twist ending that reflects Deed's roots with Georges Méliès.

The Surprises of a Flirtation (Les surprises de l'amour)

A father and two sons pursue the same dame. Even though this release date is not in Linder's early period, this is not Max, the dapper and loveable upper-class twit.

The Little Vixen (Petite Rosse)

Max must learn to juggle three balls to win a mischievous maid. Includes one of the craziest of the Crazy Max dances. The title of this print "Max Jongleur par Amour (Juggling for Love)" is probably a re-release title, for there is no film with that title in the Pathe catalog. The description of the plot, down to the wording of the intertitles, identifies it as "Petite rosse". The film was originally also released in Pathecolor.

Romeo Turns Bandit (Roméo Se Fait Bandit)

Romeo hires bandits to kidnap Juliet and capture her father. Move on folks, nothing to see here.