Slapstick Summer Series: Passing the Torch | The Race for the Sausage (1907)

The similarities to The Policemen’s Little Run, released earlier the same year, are obvious. Each have their own merits and choosing one over the other ultimately comes down to personal preference.

More significant than the movie itself are the circumstances revolving at the time around the film’s production company, Gaumontand co-Directors, Alice Guy and Louis Feuillade. Guy, serving as Gaumont’s Artistic Director since 1896, first bought scripts from Feuillade beginning in 1905, and then finally convinced him to give directing a shot as well.

Still, most of the Gaumont films from this period, such as The Race for the Sausage, were either explicitly directed or closely supervised by Guy. In preparation for her upcoming move to the United Stated to serve as Production Manager for Gaumont’s New York operations — and to be with new husband, Herbert Blaché — Guy was also molding her successor. When the time came for her to bid France a farewell, she suggested Feuillade as her replacement. By late 1907, Guy-Blaché was living on a different continent, and Feuillade was Gaumont’s new Artistic Director.

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Slapstick Summer Series: Don’t Sleep on These | The Rolling Bed (1907)

Let’s say you’re Louis Feuillade and you want to top two previous movies centered around mattress hi-jinks (Guy’s The Drunken Mattress and Melies’s The Tramp and the Mattress Makers). How would you go about doing this? Why, utilizing the entire bed of course! With the shortest run-time of the three, we are reminded that bigger isn’t always better, and in this case, smaller is actually bedder. <- Oh yes, I went there.

Slapstick Summer Series: Multilevel Comedy | The Irresistible Piano (1907)

Alice Guy continues her exploration and expansion of the slapstick genre by moving from horizontal space (as utilized in the “chase” films) to vertical space. In Le piano irrésistible, music seeps through walls and ceilings to charm all those within hearing range. On a related note, Guy also worked with up-and-comer Louis Feuillade to provide multi-floored comedy involving the world’s worst cleaning man.

Slapstick Summer Series: The Original Queen of Comedy | Laughing Gas (1907)

Significant not just for having the comedic lead portrayed by a woman, but also a woman of color. Bertha Regustus, listed on IMDB with just a single movie credit, is a delight in this film directed by Edwin S. Porter.

Slapstick Summer Series: A Killer Joke | That Fatal Sneeze (1907)

Under-appreciated gem by Lewin Fitzhamon about an elderly man caught in a powerful sneezing fit as a result of retaliatory pepper from a whipper-snapper he mildly pranked at the film’s beginning.

The humorous effects are creative and crescendo appropriately to the grand finale.

Slapstick Summer Series: Key Stepping Stone | The Policemen’s Little Run (1907)

The first intersection of chase movies with slapstick – The Policeman’s Little Run (aka La Course des Sergents de Ville, literally “The Run of the Village Constables”), directed by Ferdinand Zecca.

Preceding the Keystone Cops by 6 years, this slapstick-chase also includes a surprising trick-film sequence for added measure. The wall-climbing effect was previously done by Georges Méliès (and later by Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman & Robin), but here its impact is amplified by the scrolling camera.