Slapstick Summer Series: Comedic Timing | Onésime, Clockmaker (1912)

With the inception of recurring movie characters, Onésime portrayed by Ernest Bourbon in 63 different films over the span of just 2 years — was arguably the most popular from the pre-Keystone era.

However, the star of today’s spotlight film is not actually Onésime and his fewer than 2 minutes of onscreen time. That honor instead goes to the city of Paris. Vibrant and alive in triple-time, pre-WWII Paris is captured in hi-speed compositions by Director, Jean Durand.

Also of note: Onésime Horloger was written by heir to the Gaumont director’s throne, Louis Feuillade.

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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.

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: Timeless | A Very Fine Lady (1908)

A beautiful woman causes mayhem with weak-willed men (some things never change). Add a laugh track and Louis Feuillade’s Une dame vraiment bien could be a modern “Hidden Camera” TV-show. But what’s up with the ending?!?