Monday 4 June 2007

Algie, the Miner (1912) Alice Guy

Algie Allmore has a year to prove himself a man, and if he does so he can have the hand of the daughter of Harry Lyons in marriage. So reads the note, signed by Harry Lyons himself, so it should be a pretty easy task. Well, Harry's daughter is actually pretty safe, because Algie is what was known at the time as a pansy. There are plenty of other descriptions you could come up with too, especially as it takes him about ten seconds after climbing off the train on the ride west to kiss no less than two much bigger and much tougher westerners.

Algie, presumably played by Billy Quirk who is the only name listed at IMDb, starts out by indulging in every gay stereotype you could imagine. He flounces around so well that we don't just hear his high pitched voice but smell his perfume too. Of course he's not really gay, because he's looking forward to claiming his girl, but he's an easterner and they all turn out as lily livered as Algie. After he heads west and gets to learn how to pull his pistol and save Big Jim, his huge gold hunting partner with the inevitable scary false facial hair, he brings him back east to see him claim his girl.

I find it interesting to see the suggested parity between 'gay' and 'easterner', in a similar way in which you might see a parity today between 'gay' and 'from San Francisco'. It's also interesting to me to see that the director, uncredited of course for 1912, was a woman, Alice Guy. There's some attraction between men and lesbians on the one side, and women and gay men on the other, that must have something to do with a lack of feeling threatened, because it's pervasive. There has to be some reason why slash fiction, or gay fan fiction, is apparently written primarily by women, while the heterosexual guys fantasise about lesbians.

As for the film, it's short and doesn't have a lot going on, but it's not that bad at all. It starts, it continues, it finishes, all logically and with a consistent linear structure. It's not much of a story but it is a story, and that's more than I can say for a good deal of the rest of the films I've seen from this early on in Hollywood's history.

1 comment:

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