Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Three Must-Get-Theres

Kolme muskettisolttua. US 1922. PC: Max Linder Productions. D+SC: Max Linder; DP: Harry [E. J.] Vallejo, Max Dupont; titles: Tom Miranda; cast: Max Linder (Dart-in-Again), Bull Montana (Duke of Rich-Lou), Frank Cooke (King Louis XIII), Catherine [Caroline?] Rankin (Queen), Jobyna Ralston (Connie), Jack Richardson (Walrus), Charles Metzetti (Octopus), Clarence Wertz (Porpoise), Fred Cavens (Bernajoux), Harry Mann (Bunkumin), Jean de Limur (Roquefort), Jazzbo (donkey); HDCAM, 58’ (transferred at 18 fps), (reproducing original tinting); source: Lobster Films, Paris / Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin, building on the SDK restoration of 1995, now original in English with e-subtitles in Italian, grand piano: [Gabriel Thibaudeau?]. Viewed at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Cinema Verdi, 5 October 2008. - David Robinson: "Linder made two attempts to establish himself in the USA. In 1917 he was engaged by Essanay, struggling since the departure of Chaplin. He completed three shorts (...) before the contract was dissolved (...) Linder returned to Hollywood in 1922, and produced, wrote, and directed 3 feature films for his own company: Seven Years Bad Luck (released 6 February 1921), Be My Wife (released December 1921), and The Three Must-Get-Theres (released 27 August 1922).
These were the only features directed by Linder alone; and he is said to have considered The Three Must-Get-Theres the best film of his career. It came out almost exactly one year after the release of The Three Musketeers, but the success and furore of Douglas Fairbanks’s opulent spectacle were still fresh enough in the audience’s memory to justify Linder’s parody. With his wig always a little awry, Max parodies Fairbanks’s elegance, athleticism, and beaming self-satisfaction. The story and characters are directly caricatured from the original: Richelieu becomes Rich-Lou, and Buckingham, Bunkumin, while Max becomes Dart-in-Again, and Athos, Porthos, and Aramis are whimsically renamed Walrus, Porpoise, and Octopus. The best-remembered moment of Max’s emulation of Fairbanks’s balletic athleticism is his deft and lethal stratagem when surrounded by a ring of swords. Much of the humour depends on surreal anachronism, so that Max is inclined to change his faithful donkey for a motorcycle, or cross the channel on a sailing horse. Fairbanks clearly appreciated the parody, and is said to have sent Linder a gracious congratulatory telegram.
Linder’s assistant director, Fred Cavens (1882-1962), who also plays Bernajoux, was a specialist in stunt fencing (...) The cinematographer E(nrique) J(uan) Vallejo (Harry Vallejo; 1882-1950) is credited with Chaplin’s first films, Making a Living and Kid Auto Races at Venice (...). This was Jobyna Ralston’s (1899-1967) first considerable part: some biographies say that it was in fact Linder who persuaded her to leave Broadway for Hollywood(...). Linder’s fellow countryman just arrived in America, Jean de Limur (1887-1976), was to work with Chaplin (...)
The original American release version appears no longer to exist in its entirety, and is known only from truncated 16mm dupes. When the film was released in Berlin in April 1924, it was in a version that had been cut by around 400 metres, and given new German intertitles written by Lothar Knud Frederik, a regular writer for Harry Piel. In 1942, the Reichsfilmarchiv acquired a copy of this version from the Gerhard Lamprecht collection. A dupe negative was produced, which has been the source of prints now in other archives. In 1995 the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek was able to undertake a new transfer, of much improved technical quality. In the interim, new elements of the film had emerged: fragments in the collections of the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek and the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv and a near-complete print in the Nederlands Filmmuseum were used in the restoration. In this new high-definition restoration produced by Lobster Films, Paris, the English titles have been restored using the German titles and other sources, in a new adaptation aiming to recreate the humorous vernacular of the original. "– David Robinson. - It was a pleasure to see Linder's masterpiece (included in the 1100 films of my MMM Film Guide) at last in a version close to the original; I was familiar with the Maud Linder abridgement in En compagnie de Max Linder and the SDK restoration in German. The English titles in this version are witty. - It's a marvellous parody with several weird and original touches as the Cardinal's servant whose bald head has a growth of only a couple of hair, used for meditation by Richelieu and finally removed by Linder.

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