It's a wonderful thing to be reminded from time to time why I love movies as much as I do. To continually be able to discover new films and filmmakers is truly one of my great pleasures in this life. I'll be the first to admit that though silent cinema is far from my strongest area if expertise, I am nonetheless fascinated by it , especially the comedies. The universality of comedy transcends time in such a remarkable way and I have always marveled at that. A clever joke is a clever joke, especially when it appears to be a simple one. Keaton, Chaplin and Lloyd (who I've only really started to get into in the last few years) are undeniably remarkable in their cinematic achievements. I can hardly believe that I consider a film like SHERLOCK JR. (from 1924) to be as technically groundbreaking as it is funny even to this very day, but I do. Before the announcement of this set, Max Linder was a name I'd nary heard mentioned on any occasion. Once I began to talk about watching these movies, it started to become clear to me that he absolutely has his fans out there (and I can certainly see why). You really have to respect the physicality and guts of silent film performers like Max Linder. Whether he's dodging cars in traffic, hanging off the undercarriage of a moving train, or putting himself in a cage with a lion there's an almost brazen courageousness on display there. No special effects or stunt people, just the man himself putting it all on the line. There's something about the way he looks as well that makes his comedies interesting. Were his mustache a longer "twirling length" he would absolutely resemble Snidely Whiplash. So you have this nearly villainous face and yet he is very doggedly charming in these films. Also, he has some very large, almost buggy eyes that make him more of a human cartoon character when he really opens them wide. He plays an oaf well, but moreover he's less nebbish-y than say Keaton and that makes for a different comic feeling. And like Keaton, Chaplin and Lloyd, Linder was the writer and director of many of his movies (including all on this disc).
This collection includes three Linder films of about an hour in length each and one short:
SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK (1921) - Easily the standout gem from this set. This film has a pretty amazing mirror gag that feels like maybe it influenced the classic sequence the Marx Brothers made famous in DUCK SOUP. It also has lots of great chases and sequences involving Linder disguising himself and hiding from various authority figures. All very clever and quite well done. An unheralded classic. BE MY WIFE (1921) - Delightful courting comedy wherein Linder has to great lengths to win over the rather prudish aunt of the girl he loves. Lots of great gags here including a "disguise as a scarecrow" bit and a simulated fight (with himself) In another room to show his bravery. THE THREE MUST-GET-THERES (1922) - Linder's take on Alexandre Dumas, complete with 'Linder-ized' versions of all the character's names (D'Artagnan becomes 'Dart-In-Again' and so forth). The weakest of the movies in the collection but not without its charms and some fun visual gags. Also, it feels like it must be one of the earliest "parody" films and it pre-dates ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS by about 70 years. Lastly, the short MAX WANTS A DIVORCE (1917) is also included on this DVD as well.