Swingalonga Max

max linder 5

The very early Max Linder vehicle LE PENDU was translated at Pordenone as A YOUNG CHAP HAS HANGED HIMSELF. an arresting title for a comedy, but one which has the advantage of saving the filmmakers the need of any intertitles. Max, rejected by his lover’s parents, heads for the woods, produces a handy length of twine from his jacket (no gentleman is ever without) and suspends himself from a suitable branch. There follows the film’s only pan, which discovers a young village boy, who spots the dangling Max as he appears to be entertaining second thoughts. But Max finds rescue indefinitely deferred as each character alerted to his situation rushes off to report the situation to a superior, rather than attempt a rope-cutting on their own recognizance. The boy fetches a woodsman, who fetches a policeman, who fetches his officer, until eventually the mayor is roused, struggling into his ceremonial sash and proceeding to the forest with most of the town in tow.

Max gives as extraordinary an impression of turning crimson, then purple, as any monochrome film could contain (hand-tinting might have been invented expressly for this subject). The ghastly twitching of his extremities, in a hilarious yet appalling parody of death throes, manages to convey exactly how many brain cells he’s lost at any given point in the narrative, just by the power of acting.

Finally, the empurpled hero is de-treed and revived with a bicycle pump. In real life, Max was not so fortunate.

Louis J. Gasnier, the director, who does a fine job here, is most remembered for making REEFER MADNESS thirty years later, which is artistically almost as tragic a fate as Linder’s.

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2 Responses to “Swingalonga Max”

  1. Marcello Mastroianni has always reminded me of Max. But his greatest influence was on Pierre Etaix.

  2. I suggested this to Etaix, who was flattered. “When I think of people like Linder, Chaplin, Keaton, I’m just the dust on their shoes.” I think he favours Linder mainly because that’s the body and face and style he was given. His comedic style is more wide-ranging, with Tati fairly high up — but he also influenced Tati a little, if only by writing gags for him.

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