Archive for December 29, 2019

The Sunday Intertitle: Flumkins

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on December 29, 2019 by dcairns

The eight-minute comedy A SHY YOUTH — originally LES TIMIDITES DE RIGADIN — is from the DVD set GIRLS RUN WILD, and shows what happens when “the Flumkins” — who knows what THEY were originally called — go out for the night. Their servants all dress up in their clothes and have a right old knees-up.

I hope this is based on documented fact. I’d feel a lot better if the domestic staff of the early twentieth century entertained themselves in this revolutionary manner.

When Charles Prince, AKA Rigadin, in the role of young Mr. Pusher, the shy youth, shows up, he mistakes the shadows for reality like some Platonic cave-dweller — that is, he believes the servants are the Flumkins. He’s plied with drink and invited to have a right old knees-up to the tune of Lohengrin, played on the parlour upright, and to put him in the proper spirit, the saucy maid dresses him up in a suit of armour made from kitchenware, Ned Kelly fashion, with a funnel on his head for a bit of Tin Woodsman panache.

This is from the cinematic school of “one camera angle per room.”

A few mysteries here: the English intertitles appear to have replotted the film, transforming Rigadin’s character, originally the fiance of the young lady of the house, into a visiting relative of a friend, which explains why he doesn’t rumble the trick being played. It also makes his eventual embarrassment and banishment slightly less mean.

He’s a hideous actor and I never want to see him again.

Rigadin’s frequent co-star, Mistinguett, is credited as playing the fiancee on the IMDb, but that’s a nothing role. I think she has the juicier role of the maid.

Oh, very well:

Rigadin and Mistinguett again. It’s a year later, and the camera has crept closer, allowing us a less imperfect view of the mugging and telegraphing. Has somebody taken out all the intertitles, and are we supposed to be able to figure out what’s going on from the pantomime alone? Some titles do belatedly appear, just when we don’t need them.

It’s quite an unpleasant, reactionary story. I suggest you don’t watch it.

A pan is attempted at the twenty second mark, which actually takes us from a doctor’s waiting room into the surgery, passing across an imaginary wall (if we can have an invisible fourth wall, goes the reasoning, why not make the third one invisible too? Next stop, DOGVILLE!) It anticipates those Ophuls and early Kubrick films where the camera is always showing off its phantasmal prowess by passing through the set walls.

Kind of wanted this one to just keep going until it found a better play to photograph. One pictures those old movie studios where they’re shooting four films at once, all in different genres… maybe Segundo de Chomon is raising demons on the next set?