Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Cocl als Hausherr

Photo not from the film. The comedy duo in another film from the same year, Der Bauernschreck (1913). Rudolf Walter as Cocl, Josef Holub as Seff.

AT 1913.
regia/dir: Rudolf Walter, Josef Zeitlinger.
scen: Ernst Marischka.
cast: Rudolf Walter (Cocl), Josef Holub (Seff), Karl Karner, Richard Koß, Irma Nemethy, Marianne Austerlitz, Oskar Lobl, Friedrich Schild, Georg Moga.
prod: Sascha Filmfabrik, Wien.
copia/copy: 35 mm, 240 m, 10’29” (20 fps); did./titles: ENG.
fonte/source: Filmarchiv Austria, Wien.
    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 Italian by Underlight, 9 Oct 2019.

Steve Massa (GCM): "A popular music hall sketch could have a long life – touring theatres for many years in addition to various permutations and borrowings. As the example of Au Music-Hall shows, early movies needed material, and weren’t always particular where they got it. Another music hall skit of note, Home from the Honeymoon, debuted in 1905 and toured for a few years with the Arthur Jefferson Company. Jefferson, a well-known theatrical manager and producer, had written the piece with the help of his son Arthur Jr. Better known today as Stan Laurel, the younger Jefferson got an early leg up touring with Home from the Honeymoon, which would eventually lead to his own engagement with the Fred Karno outfit. The sketch would find its way to film by way of Hollywood, and even Austria in 1913’s Cocl als Hausherr:"

"“The parallels to the familiar L&H story are very close, the most significant difference being the arrival of several different would-be tenants rather than one couple. It seems reasonable to suggest that Arthur Jefferson might have had grounds to claim this to have been an unauthorised adaptation of his sketch – which had made its theatrical debut five years before the film was produced – and that, given the existence of an English-language print, Jefferson may indeed have been aware of it. So why didn’t Jefferson take legal action? The answer may lie in a court case brought by Fred Karno over a film produced in 1907 by the French company Pathé Frères. Released in Britain as At the Music Hall – under which title it survives at the BFI – the film is an obvious version of Karno’s sketch Mumming Birds, which Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel later performed in the USA. (Its star was Max Linder who, ironically, was to prove a major influence on Chaplin’s screen work.) Karno lost the case. I had long believed this to have been because there had yet to be a legal precedent concerning screen rights to literary works, but according to historian Barry Anthony – in his recent book Chaplin’s Music Hall – the decision went against Karno because the judge believed the sketch did not qualify as a dramatic piece, of the type that would be protected by copyright. This, presumably, reflects the then-current distinction between music-hall and the so-called ‘legitimate’ theatre, of which Jefferson – who worked in both categories – would have been all too aware.” (Glenn Mitchell, 2013)"

"Rudolf Walter and Josef Holub as Cocl and Seff were two of the original Austrian movie stars. Bringing their stage backgrounds to film in 1912, the thickset Walter and the skinny (and usually owlishly bespectacled) Holub were firmly in the tramp-clown tradition, and in their mismatched physicalities were direct forerunners of Laurel and Hardy. Cocl als Hausherr comes from the beginning of their film teaming, with Rudolf Walter directing in tandem with cinematographer Josef Zeitlinger. The pair play two bums who take advantage of an empty house, renting out rooms to eccentric characters. The unexpected return of the true owner leads our comic heroes to “take it on the lam.” Relatively unknown outside their native Austria, Walter and Holub continued their “Cocl und Seff” misadventures until 1923." Steve Massa (GCM)

AA: Cocl as a Landlord.

The cinema's first comedy duo? Cocl and Seff started in 1912, nine years before Pat and Patachon began in Denmark and 15 years before Laurel and Hardy became an official team.

It's fascinating to learn from Steve Massa and Glenn Mitchell's remarks above that Cocl and Seff used for this comedy Stan Laurel's father's music hall sketch Home from the Honeymoon (1905), later filmed by Laurel and Hardy as Duck Soup (1927) and Another Fine Mess (1930).

The screenwriter is Ernst Marischka in one of the first credits of his long and illustrious career – he is best known as the director of the Sissi trilogy, launching the young Romy Schneider as the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. The film was produced by Sascha, the biggest film production house of Austria.

Comedy usually does not travel, and this film is proof. Rudolf Walter as Cocl and Josef Holub as Seff have not stood the test of time.

The visual quality of the print is ok. A green tint is in use.


AA Facebook capsule:

We saw the night before Laurel & Hardy's Duck Soup (1927) but the same sketch had been filmed 14 years before by the Austrian comedy duo Cocl & Seff as Cocl als Hausherr (1913).

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