Have you seen this man?

Yes, the one whose back is being licked by the giant skull?

Denis Gifford includes this image in his seminal big green book A Pictorial History of Horror Movies, but does not tell us what film it’s from. He does say it’s a Georges Melies. And some evidence of that can be gleaned by the style, the content, and the fact that the human postage stamp does look a bit like our Georges.

The multiplicity of skeletal imagery within the frame (love the fish above the door — a member of the herring family — they shrink when they’re marinated) suggested there might be a bone-related title, so I scrolled through the Melies filmography, and did find LES RAYONS RONTGEN, AKA A NOVICE AT X-RAYS, but that can’t be considered conclusive.

So if anyone out there has seen this film — and perhaps owns a copy — I’d like to hear about it.

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11 Responses to “Have you seen this man?”

  1. Deninconsiderate Gifford more like!

  2. Yes, he’s decided to make my job difficult with this one. He also mislabeled one still, confusing Kill Baby Kill with Children of the Damned, but I’ve figured that one out. And he got me to watch Mad Doctor of Blood Island when I should have been watching one of the sequels, because his description of the still was a bit misleading, but I don’t begrudge him that one.

  3. I can’t tell you what it is, either, I’m afraid but I see that Dave McKean has used that film (Or at least that still) for one of the films in his Nitrate series. unhelpfully, it’s the only untitled one, as far as I can see, but it might be worth sending him a message!

    Here’s some of the images, including the Melies: http://centuryguild.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/70/

    I’d have guessed it’d be one of the films Gifford lists on page 16, but that would probably be too easy.

  4. Heavens, you mean I have to READ this book as well? That helps me know which films to target first, and A Novice at X-Rays still sounds like the best. Hope to get that Melies box set soon. Then we’ll see some action.

    I’ll try tweeting McKean.

  5. I fast-forwarded through the whole Flicker Alley set and didn’t find it. I did see many skeletons though.

    Funny, in the English version of Wikipedia, A Novice at X-Rays doesn’t come up in Melies filmography, but if you search you can find it on the German version. Auto-translated:
    “Les Rayons X is a short animated film by Georges Méliès in the year 1898. In the one-minute black and white film, a man is X-rayed by a doctor, which loosens the skeleton of the body and walking around during the rest of the body behind. Then an argument starts with the doctor until it comes to the explosion.”

  6. Hmm, this is going to be tricky.

    The X-ray gag also appears in the opening titles of a 70s comedy show called The Goodies:

  7. Thanks very much for looking for the film, Brandon. Should’ve thanked you before but I’m terribly forgetful that way.

  8. It’s La Phrenologie Burlesque!!! 1901…

  9. unhelpfully, it’s the only untitled one, as far as I can see, but it might be worth sending him a message

  10. Thanks, but we got it (see above, and also a few posts later).

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