The Sunday Intertitle: Algie Shows his Mettal

Solax intertitles always have a bit of a remedial English quality, don’t they? Even if the spelling were better, the typography does not suggest erudition.

ALGIE, THE MINER is a 1912 “comedy” produced by Alice Guy. Billy Quirk plays a repulsive young popinjay sent west to become a man. In the ironic conclusion, he returns to the big city a gun-wielding maniac, laughing hysterically (and pantomimically) as his uncivilised and alcoholic buddy terrorizes the help.

Moral: unknown.

2 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: Algie Shows his Mettal”

  1. bensondonald Says:

    Followed the links to your Chiseler piece on another Alice Guy film, “The Consequences of Feminism”, and to the titleless six-minute version available on YouTube. Behind the easy laughs something is going on. The men in women’s roles become vain and insipid; but the women in men’s roles become sexual predators. The idea of a strong woman dragging a weak married man away to her flat and ripping his coat off becomes dark when you consider this is meant as a straight reversal of current reality. Then we get the menfolk taking care of the children while the women abdicate their responsibilities to hang out in a bar — again, the stuff of straight tragedy in the real world. The wrap-up is the men rebelling and driving the women from the bar … and reclaiming their traditional place as the bullies who neglect their families.

    When “Algie the Miner” was made, the virtuously masculine west was already firmly enshrined in popular culture. The milksop redeemed by hard work and harsh living was a cliche as well. Audiences attuned to Tom Mix and his ilk would have recognized this as a direct mockery of the accepted western rules. At the same time, it seems a more likely result of toughening up a spoiled jerk. Guy seems to be saying, “Here’s your virtuous masculinity, folks!”

  2. It *could* be satire. Or just roughhouse comedy from people who don’t care too much.

    Billy Quirk, however, seems to have cared too deeply. When features came in, the pressure gave him a nervous breakdown. So maybe he was looking to subvert the cliches in his short films: more investigation may be required.

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