Tuesday, October 05, 2010

French Clowns 1905-1914, A-Z, Programme 3

Teatro Verdi, Pordenone (GCM) with e-subtitles in English and Italian and Stephen Horne on the grand piano, 5 Oct 2010.

Biographical notes by David Robinson. Film synopses supplied by the Archives Françaises du Film du Centre National de la Cinématographie, Bois d’Arcy. All prints from the Archives Françaises du Film (CNC), Bois d’Arcy. Text in italics from the GCM Catalogue.

BOIREAU (continued)

BOIREAU ET LA FILLE DU VOISIN (Pathé Frères, FR 1912). D: ?; cast: André Deed, Valentina Frascaroli (Gribouillette); Pathé 5484; 35mm, 222 m., 10' (18 fps). Sans intertitres à l’origine.
Boireau is in love with Gribouillette, the neighbour’s daughter. But the beauty’s father keeps stern watch. The two lovers, to gain paternal consent, pretend to commit suicide… - Good print. Qf. Neighbours (Norman McLaren) and Laurel & Hardy: the mutual retaliation policy of the neighbours. The play between André Deed and Valentina Frascaroli is relaxed, otherwise this is pretty coarse stuff.

BOIREAU SAUVETEUR (Pathé Frères, FR 1913). D: ?; cast: André Deed; Pathé 5664; 35mm, 166 m., 8' (18 fps). Sans intertitres à l’origine.
Boireau, metamorphosed into an old sea wolf, sees a man struggling in the water and sinking in the waves. Boireau knocks down ten people as he rushes to save the man in distress and puts a boat into the water, because he cannot swim… - Ok print with fine scratches. Coarse improvised seaside knockabout.

BOIREAU EN VOYAGE (Pathé Frères, FR 1913). D: ?; cast: André Deed; Pathé 5708; 35mm, 133 m., 6' (18 fps). Sans intertitres à l’origine.
By accident disturbing lovers, poor Boireau, thrown head-first downstairs, falls on the hotel doorman, bounces into the street, is passed and repassed from hand to hand, and rolls from fall to fall, until he lands in a laundry, where the washerwomen receive him with blows from their beaters… - Good print. B. intrudes in the nuptial chamber of a honeymooning couple and is thrown out step by step until he finds accommodation in the gutter.

BOIREAU CHERCHE SA FEMME (Pathé Frères, FR 1913). D: ?; cast: André Deed; Pathé 5773; 35 mm, 172 m, 8' (18 fps). Sans intertitres à l’origine.
To console himself for having mislaid his wife, Boireau goes to take a bath. On the way he encounters a young woman in a bathrobe whom he finds delicious, and makes his way towards the briny ocean in the wake of the young beauty. - A good print. Another seaside improvisation, coarse.

BOIREAU S’EXPATRIE (Pathé Frères, FR 1913). D: ?; cast: André Deed, Valentina Frascaroli (Gribouillette); Pathé 6168; 35mm, 175 m., 8' (18 fps). Sans intertitres à l’origine.
Boireau marries. How, having embarked for Cythera, does he happen to embark for America? On the wedding night, his wife Gribouillette finds in one of his pockets a photograph that appears to be of a Miss Muguette, a former friend of Boireau. In a fury, Gribouillette sulks in her chair, while Boireau, vexed, lies on his bed, where he falls asleep and dreams of leaving for Canada. But Gribouillette, who by an effect of telepathy has fallen into the same dream, discovers her husband’s plan and, concealed under different disguises, pursues him like a living guilt… - A fair print. Inception: Gribouillette enters Boireau's dream.

UNE EXTRAORDINAIRE AVENTURE DE BOIREAU (Pathé Frères, FR 1914). D: ?; cast: André Deed, Valentina Frascaroli; Pathé 6522; 35mm, 304 m., 14' (18 fps). Sans intertitres à l’origine.
Passing under some scaffolding, Count Boireau and an Apache called The Terror are hit on the back by an enormous falling stone. They are extricated with a jack, but the violence of the shock has welded them together. Unwilling Siamese twins, each of the two men wants to go about his business. They agree that one will accompany the other wherever he wishes to go for two hours, and vice versa… - A good print. Boireau and the apache become Siamese twins. Hot water cure at the doctor's doesn't help. Finally they are sawed apart.

BOUT DE ZAN (René Poyen, 1908-1968). Bout de Zan, with his frequent and favourite costume of oversize pants, overcoat, and bowler hat, replaced Bébé at Gaumont, and though three years younger, quickly established himself as a more versatile performer. While he could slip comfortably into Bébé’s usual role as the mischievous child of a well-off bourgeois home, he could as easily transform himself into a wretched street boy. His range was further broadened when production moved to the Côte d’Azur, and the war brought new subjects, as Bout de Zan joined up, caught a spy, and met the Boche. The series continued until 1916, and the resourceful little actor also had good roles in the great Feuillade serials, Les Vampires, Judex, and La Nouvelle Mission de Judex. Retired at the age of 9, he returned to Gaumont to make seven features with Feuillade, in two of which, as a 16-year-old, he teamed with the enchanting child star Bouboule (guest of the Giornate in 2000). With Feuillade’s death however, Poyen’s screen career came to an end, and apart from a brief appearance – as Bout de Zan – in Christian-Jaque’s Le Bidon d’or (1932), he disappeared from view, to end his days as a provincial garage proprietor.

BOUT DE ZAN FAIT LES COMMISSIONS (Gaumont, FR 1913). D: Louis Feuillade; cast: René Poyen, Marguerite Lavigne (mother); Gaumont 4349; 35 mm, 84 m, 4' (18 fps), tinted. Incomplet (manque la fin). Sous-titres français.
Following a quarrel between his parents, Bout de Zan is charged with acting as intermediary. Harsh words erupt, and Bout de Zan is not spared. His ruse will soften the violence of certain blows. - Variable image quality in the source, from fair to damaged. The little child as the messenger of insults between the parents.

LES CERISES DE BOUT DE ZAN (Gaumont, FR 1913). D: Louis Feuillade; cast: René Poyen; Gaumont 4359; 35 mm, 180 m, 8' (18 fps), tinted. Sous-titres français.
Bout de Zan lives in a caravan with his parents. Not having eaten, he decides to feed himself with cherries which he finds in bourgeois gardens. Unfortunately, one of the owners gets out his rifle. Bout de Zan flees, but gets caught on the garden fence and tears his trousers. Once freed, he goes home, but his angry parents chase him. He gives them the slip and finds himself in a field, where he retrieves the clothes of a scarecrow. Beside the road he meets his parents again and, under their astonished gaze, shows them his new trousers. - Heavily duped visual quality. Astonishing contrast in the social situation between this and the previous picture. The child's parents are neglecting drunkards, and the child is forced to steal to survive.

CALINO (Clément Migé). Little is known of this actor, who seems to have come from music hall and circus, bringing a cheerful, idiotic, plebeian character able to promote massive destruction.
Originated at Gaumont by Bosetti, the Calino series lasted from 1909 until 1913, after which Migé leaves no trace. Paul Bertho (see Gavroche) appears to have played the character in several films of 1911.
The Calino films are credited with introducing “Les Pouics”, a comic troupe who prefigured Sennett’s Keystone Kops, making a fine if frenzied art out of mindless, surreal destruction. One of the regular Pouics was the fine actor Gaston Modot (1887-1970) – later known for his work with Renoir, Clair, and (in L’Âge d’or) Buñuel – who, surprisingly, was never given his own well-deserved series.

CALINO AVOCAT (Gaumont, FR 1910). D: Roméo Bosetti; cast: Clément Migé; 35mm, 91 m., 3' (18 fps). Sans intertitres à l’origine.
The lawyer Calino makes a defence plea so boring that the magistrates and the public fall asleep. His client takes the opportunity to escape. - A fair quality of print. Calino is such an engaging lawyer that he elicits total response: everybody cries - everybody falls asleep... Calino's Cheshire grin is annoying.

CALINO PASSAGER DE MARQUE (Gaumont, FR 1910). D: Roméo Bosetti; cast: Clément Migé; 35mm, 222 m., 8' (24 fps), sound framing. [cadrage sonore (cadence 24 im/sec.)] Incomplet (manque la fin). Sous-titres français.
Calino masquerades as a Prince during a cruise on a liner. His habitual clumsiness somewhat troubles the calm of the voyage. Always ready to be of service, Calino, during a promenade on the bridge with the captain, explains to the ship’s apprentices how to swab the deck. But on his arrival in England, two bobbies are awaiting him… - Often low contrast, duped look, stretch printed. Coarse.

CALINO ARROSEUR PUBLIC (Gaumont, FR 1910). D: Roméo Bosetti; cast: Clément Migé; 35mm, 188 m., 6' (24 fps), sound framing. [cadrage sonore (cadence 24 im/sec.)]. Sous-titres français.
Calino falls asleep on the pavement at the foot of a public fountain, and two young pranksters tie him to it. When he gets up, the fountain, remaining tightly affixed to his torso, waters all the passers-by with a powerful jet of water. - Low contrast, duped look, stretch print. The idea is funny: Calino becomes a moving fountain that is finally even put on a pedestal in the park. But the execution is coarse and drawn-out.

CALINO FAIT L’OMELETTE / Calino's Omelette. (Gaumont, FR 1912). D: Jean Durand; cast: Clément Migé, Gaston Modot [I did not recognize him although I tried], Ernest Bourbon; Gaumont 3732; 35mm, 125 m., 5' (18 fps). English intertitles.
Calino invites three friends to lunch. But as Madame refuses to prepare the meal, Calino decides tomake the omelette himself. This does not fail to cause several catastrophes. - Fair print, somewhat high contrast. It begins as a tedious farce, and Calino's fixed grin is still annoying. But the finale is inspired with the explosion where Calino perishes utterly.

CALINO CHEF DE GARE (Gaumont, FR 1912). D: Jean Durand; cast: Clément Migé, Gaston Bodot, Berthe Dagmar, Marie Dorly, Eugène Bréon; 35mm, 142 m., 6' (18 fps), tinted. Sous-titres français.
Calino has been appointed station-master. But his incompetence results in all kinds of catastrophes, culminating in a locomotive crossing the station. - I was already about to write Calino off and actually ready to leave the cinema, but fortunately I stayed to see this final film of the programme, the only one where I laughed out loud. Fair print. It starts with an exciting composition (double exposure) with the trains seen from the big window passing by the station master's office at high speed. Calino is a walking catastrophe as the station master. He moves the control stick absent-mindedly back and forth while reading a newspaper, and we see the train moving back and forth at high speed. The chaos is complete. The luggage storage breaks down. The water floods uncontrollably on the railway station personnel. There is a mutiny of the passengers when the trains are belated, and also when the train leave ahead of schedule. The first class cabin looks like a junk yard. Calino escorts a horse to the passenger car. Finally, Calino's orders lead to the station being demolished by the locomotive at full speed. - Calino has washed the fixed grin off his face and is more funny with a straight face (the Buster Keaton lesson). *

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