Archive for August 29, 2021

The Sunday Intertitle: Topping the Topper

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on August 29, 2021 by dcairns

A curious little Max Linder half-reeler. It has far more intertitles than were common in 1913, but it’s a Pathe-Baby version — the home cinema system introduced in 1922. So I think this is a chopped-down version designed to fit in a single cartridge the size of a matchbox. It moves very rapidly, with an almost nouvelle vague choppiness, which the title cards are meant to obviate. So we can imagine a one-reeler version with more detailed visits to the hat shop.

The IMDb gives the runtime as five minutes, suggesting this may be the only version surviving. And maybe it IS the authentic original edit, I can’t be 100% sure. But even with my doped schoolboy French I can tell the titles are witty. They use a different word for hat each time. And something about “an accident has transformed my hat into an accordion…”

The final indignity is a but more vulgar than Chaplin would have allowed himself to go, but of course Max’s elegance allows him to get a bit more scatological than Charlie. Not that Charlie isn’t elegant in his own way, but he doesn’t have the social standing. It’s like the special dispensation that allows Stephen Fry to swear as much as he likes on the BBC.