Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Au music-hall (Max Linder, 1907)

Au music-hall (FR 1907). Max Linder, stone drunk, about to enter the music hall. Photo: Restoration CNC

Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM), Pordenone.
European Slapstick – Prog. 3: The Celluloid Music Hall.
Musical interpretation: Stephen Horne, Frank Bockius.
Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian by Underlight, 9 Oct 2019.


Early Cinema: Flipbooks

[Bagarre de mitrons] FR 189?. 121 fotogrammi/frames, 12 fps): dubitativamente attribuito a / tentatively attributed to Méliès. Ex-cat. 53’’
    The Battle of the Bakers.

La Nourrice. FR 189?.
(90 fotogrammi/frames, 10 fps): dubitativamente attribuito a / tentatively attributed to Méliès. Ex-cat. 50’’
    The Nanny.


Au music-hall / En el café concierto.
FR 1907.
regia/dir: ?.
cast: Max Linder.
prod: Pathé Frères.
copia/copy: incomp., DCP, 5′ (da/from 35 mm, 101 m, 16 fps); did./titles: SPA.
fonte/source: CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, Bois d’Arcy.

David Robinson (GCM): "Au Music-Hall offers a curious prophetic link between Max Linder and Charles Chaplin, neither of whom was a familiar name to the public when it was released in January 1907. Linder was just a useful stock player at Pathé: it would be two more years before he fully established  his character of “Max”. Not until 1908 was Chaplin to make a name for himself in the music halls, as a coming star of Fred Karno’s Speechless Comedians."

"The link between them is Karno’s most successful sketch “Mumming Birds”, quickly run up for a special matinee in 1904 and developed under the successive titles of “Twice Nightly” (which proved confusing on the posters), and “A Stage Upon a Stage”. The setting was a music-hall stage, upon which a succession of ever more disastrously inept performers appeared, to the cat-calls and assaults of the occupants of stage boxes on either side of the set. The star role of a drunken swell in the lower prompt-side box was at various times played by all the Karno stars, including both Charles and Sydney Chaplin and Stan Laurel (as Stanley Jefferson). The sketch was a huge success in the USA and certainly played in Paris. Au Music-Hall is a shameless plagiarism of “Mumming Birds”, for which Karno promptly brought action against Pathé. He won, but complained that the damages awarded did not justify the trouble of the case."

"In Autumn 1908 Chaplin himself played “Mumming Birds” in Paris. Subsequently he was to perpetuate his performance in the role in his 1915 Essanay film A Night at the Show, which maintains the central idea of the sketch, while opening out the action and giving him a second character, Mr. Pest, a drunken galleryite. But the 24-year-old Linder had beaten him to it.
" David Robinson (GCM)

AA: A stunning discovery, as David Robinson reveals above: Max Linder beating Charles Chaplin to the draw in filming Fred Karno's most popular sketch as early as 1907, before either of them was famous. Au music-hall is a wild and merciless farce, and Linder plunges into it with abandon. We do not expect subtlety but discover tremendous energy and drive. In the sequence of hopeless performers, announced via running numbers, there is also an affinity with the comedy's tradition of the gong show and even Fellini's audition sequences.


AA Facebook capsule:

Pordenone's comedy series curated by Uli Ruedel and Steve Massa was an exploration of Transatlantic influences. Max Linder filmed with panache Au music-hall based on a Fred Karno favourite of which Charles Chaplin made his film version much later as A Night at the Show for Essanay.

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