ALIFFF 2018

Monday, 21 April 2008

Max Takes a Picture (1913)

A year after Troubles of a Grasswidower, here's the dapper French silent comedian Max Linder again. This time he's at the beach and attempting to take a picture of a young lady who fancies herself a bathing beauty. This being 1913, she's hardly a beauty and her bathing suit is hardly flattering. Maybe she financed the film in order to merely be in it. Anyway she swims out into the sea while Max has his eyes covered and when he goes to take her picture she flounces about like she's auditioning for Busby Berkeley. By the time he gets round to taking the picture she's gone.

That's what gives this one a little more than the previous film. Mostly it has to do with the little minx diving under and sneaking out of the water without Max noticing. Thus he thinks she's drowned and bemoans his lot while trying to elicit help in rescuing her. That's a fine concept, though what laughs there are have far more to do with Max playing with his hat in a way very reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin who wouldn't make a film until a year after this. The problem is that the film is only thirteen minutes long and the first five are a complete waste of space. Again though, however mediocre this may appear to modern eyes, for pre-Chaplin work this is pretty astounding.

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