Saturday, October 05, 2019

Max in a Taxi

FR: Max et son taxi / DK: Max som Chauffør.
    US 1917. PC: The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. Original US distributor: K-E-S-E Service. D+SC: Max Linder. Cin: Arthur Reeves. C: Max Linder, Martha Mansfield, Mathilde Comont (dowager hostess), Francine Larrimore, Ernest Maupain. Romanian intertitles. Title on print: Max in America (wrong title).
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM), Pordenone.
    European Slapstick Prog. I: Later Linder / Il tardo Linder.
    Grand piano: Philip Carli.
    Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian by Underlight, 5 Oct 2019.
AA: The main credit title was Max in America, but seen instead was Max in a Taxi.

This film starts with a drunk sequence. Two drunk gentlemen harness a horse backwards in front of a carriage. At home Max continues with the backwards obsession, walking upstairs backwards. His parents have had enough of his debauchery and kick him out. There are affinities in this sequence with Chaplin's One A.M.

Down and out, Max attempts suicide. He cleans the rails carefully before lying down in front of a speeding train, but the train switches tracks. He tries to hang himself, but the rope gets broken. This sequence has affinities with Keaton's Hard Luck.

Having discovered an invitation in his clothes Linder crashes a party. He has a way with the ladies. He dances with exaggerated abandon. He gorges on cream cakes. He puts a cat into the piano. He overdoes everything.

As a final solution he applies for a job as a driver although he does not know how to drive. When ladies whom he has impressed at the party need a car, Max changes hats (from the driver's cap to his signature top hat) and pretends to be another customer. There is great physical comedy as Max tries to wiggle his way into the driver's seat and stop with his body strength the car whose brakes are switched off. The speeding car hits a brick wall and the ladies emerge from the rubble trying to find poor Max. They discover him juggling in the overhead wires.

This DCP is from a Romanian source with jump cuts, scratches, low definition and a duped look. It still conveys Max Linder's touch and energy.

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