Archive for Raymond Dandy

The Sunday Intertitle: The Nine Billion Names of Plumper

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2022 by dcairns

I found another film starring Raymond François Émile Marie Pierre Frau AKA Raymond Dandy AKA Kri Kri AKA Patachon AKA Bloomer, only in this one he’s Julius AKA William. I SUCUORI (1912) — translates as THE IN-LAWS but was translated in Britain as FAMILY JARS (?) and in Holland, as seen in this print, as JULIUS EN ZIJN SCHOONPAPA (JULIUS AND HIS DADDY-IN-LAW). It’s possible this one exists TWICE on the IMdb, under those names but also under an Italian title, LA TROVATO DI KRI KRI, aka BLOOMER’S SMART IDEA (1914) — but maybe that’s a different film altogether? Or maybe this is JULIUS EN ZIJN SCHOONPAPA all right, but the other two titles are BOTH different films?

British plot synopsis from IMDb: “William and Edith, newly married, are spending their honeymoon in a delightful country village, when, suddenly they receive a telegram from Edith’s parents, quickly followed by one from William’s parents stating that they would pay them a visit. All four duly arrive and enjoy a happy reunion for a short while, but soon a warm political discussion develops, with the result that the two families part in anger, taking their respective children with them. Both parties make their way to the station, where they find that the London train is two hours late. The old people philosophically settle down to wait in the rest room, and are both fast asleep, while William and Edith patch up their differences and decide to go to Brighton to finish the honeymoon, leaving a note to that effect. When the London train is due, the old people awaken, and, reading the note, realize the ridiculous aspect of the whole affair, and decide to let bygones be bygones.”

The film has absolutely nothing to do with that synopsis, so I think it’s been misnamed.

Julius/William/Dandy/Frau/Kri Kri/Bloomer is “madly in love with the daughter of the rich Jeweler Wamperl.” Immediately a decent bit of depth staging as our man of a thousand names flirts furtively with the daughter,who’s peeping from behind an upstage curtain, while he’s dusting the sparklers in daddy’s showroom. Whenever the old man turns in his direction, he drops the glances and starts furiously working the feather duster, albeit sometimes at thin air. It suddenly occurs to me that J/W/D/F/K/B reminds me markedly of Norman Wisdom, though he doesn’t push the simpleton schtick so very hard.

Respect to Frau-Dandy for casting odd-looking women as his romantic interests in both of his films I’ve viewed, rather than glamourpusses. Realising he wants a plain Americain type shot, probably before it was named, he advances to the camera and she joins him. Doesn’t make any sense psychologically — he wants to be with her and moves further away, forcing her to advance even more — it’s purely a technical choice because a closer shot is warranted and neither camera movement nor editing within the scene are really popular options yet. In its lack of logic, but its visual effectiveness, the move is both crude AND elegant.

Some vigorous but vague mime follows, and an equally vague intertitle: “Beloved Susanna, there is nothing left for us to do… but get on with it.” Seems like an elopement is planned — so this has nothing to do with the plot of I SUCUORI, but this could be KriKri’s Bright Idea we’re witnessing.

Maybe not so bright — once Susanna has left, Kri Kri turns his pockets inside out, expressing his disconsolate poverty. Still, as we know from LA TRAGEDIA DI KRI KRI, he’s a resourceful fellow. So he confides in daddy (played by the same unknown actor named as Potbelly in TRAGEDIA), without naming the girl: “My betrothed is very rich… her father is against our marriage… I have to elope with her… but how do I get the necessary small money?” Apparently a romantic as long as it’s not his daughter involved, Potbelly/Schoonpapa advances the cash.

There’s a definite continuity in Frau/Dandy’s work: both films so far are about fleecing his prospective father-in-law. A popular theme, no doubt.

A jitney elopement! Kri in his car coat and massive motoring cap! The sweeping romance of the nineteenteens! Then, to make clear that our sweethearts are now legally wed, a wordless conversation with the vicar — I say “vicar” because he’s exactly like a vicar in a British sitcom of the seventies, beaky, ascetic, sexless, volubly chummy.

Double close-up in back of moving car — very nifty. And the anonymous heroine suddenly looks very glamorous in her headgear. The Italians really dressed well in the teens, unlike just about every other filmmaking nation. Theda Bara was the exception in the US — she was excused frumpery.

Having learned how he’s been tricked, Wamperl/Potbelly writes furiously: “Degenerate daughter, don’t expect a cent from me so long as you live.” He shoots little glances through the lens at us, eager to have our approval of this stern course.

A lovely formal composition of the newlywed Fraus/Dandys/Kri Kris/Plumpers sitting for some reason on a table glumly reading the disinheritance letter.

Since this does indeed seem to be BLOOMER’S SMART IDEA/LA TROVATO DI KRI KRI, the leading lady must be Lea Giunchi, who has been celebrated a bit recently as one of the wild female silent clowns of Europe. She co-starred with Kri Kri quite a bit, and sometimes he’s very much the supporting player to her headliner. This means we can also identify Potbelly/Wamperl as Giuseppe Gambardella, a name which seems to suit him. He was a frequent support to both Lea and Raymond.

“Julius heeft een goede idee.” — he writes to his schoonpapa. The actors, who do have a great rapport, somehow make a scene of him dictating to his wife a telegram into something engrossing and delightful, despite us having no idea of its contents.

Finally a telegram-intertitle clears up the mystery in a surprising manner: “My poor man died suddenly out of grief over your letter. Please send money for the funeral. Your unfortunate daughter. Lucie.”

This is tremendously like the plot of the first Kri Kri we watched, but then he made around sixty-nine films in 1913 alone, so a certain repetitive quality is to be expected. I note also that Susanna is now Lucie. Names are so fluid around here.

Some of Kri Kri/Plumper’s other titles are KRI KRI E IL “QUO VADIS?” — the actor apparently plays a role in the Roman epic, so naturally he made a short film about doing so — BLOOMER AND THE AIR BALLS; BLOOMER AND THE EGG POWDER; BLOOMER AND THE TANGO; BLOOMER AND THE SAUSAGE; BLOOMER AND THE MAID’S SHOES; BLOOMER, RESERVIST; BLOOMER, SOMNAMBULIST; BLOOMER, NEGRO; BLOOMER, NATURALIST; BLOOMER, GLADIATOR; BLOOMER, SOCIALIST; BLOOMER MENDS PLATES; BLOOMER EXCHANGES COATS; BLOOMER HANGS HIMSELF; BLOOMER SMOKES OPIUM; BLOOMER YAWNS; HEADLESS BLOOMER and BLOOMER’S BLOOMER. I leave it to others to speculate how many of these are the same film under different titles. Maybe he played a socialistic naturalist gladiator somnambulist who smokes opium, yawns and hangs himself.

The emotional fraud suckers pops completely, and he is soon weepingly visiting his degenerate daughter’s place, where all the other hysterical mourners are in on the gag, and Bloomer/Kri Kri is hiding in the next room. It’s really evil, a paranoid fantasy out of THE GAME. What if everyone we know is only pretending to have emotions? One particularly vocal mourner keeps provoking double-takes from Wamperl — I guess he’s letting his wails turn into laughs, but it doesn’t quite communicate without the aid of a microphone. The double-takes become triple, quadruple, quintuple. Giuseppe is a skilled and relentless comic.

Two days later, Wamperl and his wife, who has hitherto not appeared, decide to attend the wretched son-in-law’s funeral, but arrive instead at a wild party, attended by the deceased, which they have paid for. Plumper hides under the tablecloth, but is discovered.

Incredibly, the soft-hearted Wamperl is so relived that he hasn’t killed a man with a stern letter, his anger swiftly turns to joy and he and Madame Potbelly join the party as guests of honour. So that’s nice. His son-in-law is obviously something of a psychopath, but here is a nice splitscreen vignette thing to show how OK it all is.

If I can find more films by Julius AKA Raymond François Émile Marie Pierre Frau AKA Raymond Dandy AKA Kri Kri AKA Patachon AKA Bloomer AKA William, I shall tell you about it.

The Sunday Intertitle: Bloomer Wants to Kill Himself

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2022 by dcairns

Firstly — I’ve been remiss in not announcing that The Chiseler is back, at a new address, here. Add it to your bookmarks. Scroll down and you’ll find my piece on Segundo de Chomon.

Raymond François Émile Marie Pierre Frau AKA Raymond Dandy AKA AKA Kri Kri AKA Patachon AKA Bloomer — remarkable how many names these minor European silent clowns have — one for each territory, sometimes more — thwarted in love, wishes to make away with himself. Being a good citizen, he informs the police.

Originally from Senegal, Frau made his name(s) in Italy, a nation thronging with tumblers in the teens.

Luckily for us, this is not only a suicide comedy, it’s a behind-the-scenes movie, offering us yet another glimpse of the film industry in its baby-steps phase. “Bloomer is expected to work in the theatre. Potbelly goes to meet him.”

In reality, suicide has caused considerable trouble for filmmakers, particularly, it seems, in Italy, and the filmmakers have not always responded with sympathy. The first instinct is to worry about how to finish the movie. When gaunt-featured Canadian character player Al Muloch, one of the three hitmen at the start of THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY *and* ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, fatally defenestrated himself on location for the latter movie, Sergio Leone was heard yelling “Get his costume!” as the mortally injured actor was ambulanced away, still in his movie gear. On CITY OF WOMEN, Fellini’s slightly baffled response to feminism, former peplum idol Ettore Manni, playing the hypermacho Dr. Xavier Katzone, shot himself in the groin with his .44 Magnum one evening and bled to death. “At least it proves the film works,” mused Fellini, and rewrote the film’s ending to exclude his deceased thesp. Admittedly, we don’t know that Manni’s death was intentional. Maybe the gun went off while he was cleaning it. With his dick.

Bloomer/Patachon/Dandy/etc is discovered apparently dead from poisoning (this is hilarious so far) but then there’s some “he’s behind you!” panto poignancy as he filches a swig of booze while his friend Potbelly is setting up a long candle. The film looks set to play out mostly as a single set-up. Then he starts pranking his friend, which is oddly antic behaviour for a man bent on self-destruction.

It seems this is all a ploy to get revenge on Bloomer/Dandy/etc’s prospective father-in-law who’s refusing his daughter’s hand. Potbelly is persuaded to take the place of the corpse, though how this can be expected to convince given his physical mountainousness is anybody’s guess. Such are the ways of farce. “Bloomer is unrecognizable,” remarks a hopeful intertitle, as our man dons false pornstache and eyebrows. This development seems to be the only reason for the movie-making subplot. Frau/Dandy’s mastery of disguise must be alibied, or the whole thing will be unbelievable. We can’t have that.

GOOD ACTING from the boss of the Keystone Karabinieri and the unyielding Mr Pepper: their gestures are expressively Italianate without lapsing into the purely rhetorical or explanatory. At this time, Mack Sennett’s comics were still trying to illustrate the plot to the audience using hand-gestures and exaggerated lip movements. This favourable impression is slightly marred when Patachon/Dandy’s sweetheart throws a full-on fit of hysterics, but that seems to be what the plot requires. So far, our hero’s scheme is causing widespread distress and alarm. It must be working.

Looking somewhat like Fawlty Towers’ Manuel, Dandy/Bloomer arrives at the grieving household, personating his own (presumably non-existent) brother, and threatens to murder Mr Pepper. But, being a good sport, he’ll settle for twenty thousand lire/gilders/bucks — exactly the sum Pepper told him he needed to marry his daughter (do pay attention). There seem to be a number of crimes involved here — threats of violence, extortion, armed robbery, fraud — so it’s a good job the police are already involved.

However, under Italian comedy law, Mr. Pepper is now compelled to allow the marriage to go forth, as Kri Kri/Dandy/Frau/Patachon/Bloomer/Lazarus celebrates his resurrection by kissing his sweetheart and leaping into the arms of his mother-in-law-to-be with Harpo-ish enthusiasm.