Author Topic: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910  (Read 541 times)

ProperCharlie

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #40 on: November 29, 2017, 03:19:56 AM »
Jim le glisseur (Slippery Jim) dir. Ferdinand Zecca
Pathé Frères
France




Bracket Record:
  • Round 1 bt. Dobbeltgaengeren
Winner's Bracket:
  • Round 2 bt. Je voudrais un enfant
  • Round 3 bt. Motherless
  • Round 4 bt. Max is Stuck Up
  • Round 5 lost to The Automatic Moving Company
Loser's Bracket:
  • Round 9 lost to Rose o' Salem Town

Link to film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q297Ks2EMpY#no

The police arrest a man for unspecified crimes and will go to extreme lengths to ensure he will not escape from custody.  Unfortunatley for them, their prisoner has a few tricks up his sleeve.
 



This is a case of two claims on one film. There is a 1909 French film by Segundo de Chomón also known in English as "Slippery Jim".  It's French title is "Pickpock ne craint pas les entraves".  The 1910 film by Ferdinand Zecca's French title is "Jim le glisseur", a much better fit for this English translation, so I'm assuming the 1910 title is the correct one and the 1909 title is a miasttributation to this film.

In 1910 Harry Houdini was a big name.  He'd escaped from milk churns filled with water, from being handcuffed in trunks and from bags tossed into rivers.  His name was world-renowened.  He offered prizes to people who thought they could hold him.  Given the affinity between early cinema and stage magic, it was only a matter of time before someone would use camera tricks to better his feats and show how they thought they might be done. 




Slippery Jim is a rather relaxed gentleman with a jaunty hat, light tan rough suit, and a penchant for smoking a pipe while reading the paper.  Quite what his crime may be is never made clear, however he is a man who most definitely will not be held.  Using a full-range of camera tricks, mostly involving stop-motion but also double-exposures, straight-forward disappearances, running the film in reverse and more, he manages to elude the best efforts of what look to British police given their helmets and their astonishing fake facial hair.  Halfway though Jim is getting a tad blasé, allowing himself to be captured just so he can demonstrate a different method of escape.  His pursuers suffer some nasty injuries in their chase included being squashed flat by a door and being cut in half by Jim on his magic bike only to be glued back together by a passing bill poster.  There's some proper slapstick body horror in this.  It's closest comparison would The Automatic Moving Company which it shares both animation style and a certain charm.




As well as all the special effects, this film is noticable for its editing of sequences to make a coherent narrative with some scenes being intercut.  It's also got some close-ups to focus on the action scenes, for instance when he's first imprisoned, Jim manages to twist his ankles, detatch his feet and then slip the leg-irons, all done in stop-motion close up.  This gives the film momentum, a pre-Keystone-Cops-era propulsion to who knows where, but it's a great deal of fun finding out.  It's the sort of silent people were still making after the invention of talkies. 

Notes on the Vanquished:
  • Dobbeltgaengeren is the flipside to Slippery Jim.  A Danish film in which two robbers try to escape.  I've not been able to find out if they do or not.
  • Motherless is a version of the French play and novel 'The Two Orphans' which has been adapted for screen on many subsequent occasions.  This is the second filmed production of the story.

ProperCharlie

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #41 on: December 06, 2017, 03:51:50 AM »
Les beaux-arts mysterieux (The Mysterious Fine Arts) dir. Émile Cohl
Gaumont
France




Bracket Record:
  • Round 1 bt. Le Festin de Balthazar
Winner's Bracket:
  • Round 2 bt. Ramona
  • Round 3 bt. The Devil on Two Sticks
  • Round 4 bt. [The] Queen of Spades
  • Round 5 lost to Two Kids on a Spree in Brussels
Loser's Bracket:
  • Round 9 lost to Princess Tarakanova
Link to film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FV4HQ6UQOJA#no

Various art equipment drawns a series of pictures which then turn into photographs or moving images of the scene painted.  Finally a papier-mache mask is constructed piece-by-piece from torn off paper.



I'm beginning to tire of this particular facet of Cohl's experimentation.  This is interesting in that his stop-motion drawn animations now turn into live action film.  The mask at the end is undeniably creepy, although I'm not convinced that's the intended effect.  However, this is more of Cohl doodling on film.  Seeing what he can do without a real idea of what it is he wants to do.  At least he seems to be having fun doing it.  The last Cohl film for a while I think.

Notes on the Vanquished:
  • Le Festin de Balthazar.  Louis Feuillade directs Belshazzar's Feast.  The writing really was on the wall for this one.
  • Ramona has Mary Pickford starring in another D.W. Griffith tale of cross-cultural love between white women and native American men.  This has got good write-ups and it appears the print has been preserved very well.  I may see if I can get around to watching it.
  • The Devil on Two Sticks is that rarest of things, an Italian film that's not a filmed assembleage of scenes from known plays or operas.  The only description is of a man who befriends a demon to escape the clutches of a woman who's in pursuit of him.  I would guess that it probably comes to regret his decision.
  • As you can tell from square-braketted definite article [The] Queen of Spades is Russian.  And as these often are, it's based on a Pushkin short-story.  This is one of the first examples of story on film of a gambler who thinks he can beat the game if he just has the right system.  In this case it's Faro and he has to seduce the daughter of a woman who seemingy wins all the time.  Intriguing.
I'm regretting putting Cohl's fine arts through at the expense of at least three of these.

pixote

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #42 on: December 06, 2017, 12:05:20 PM »
Is The Girl of the Northern Woods in the bracket, by chance? It's an extra on the Dawson City: Frozen Time Blu-Ray.

I'll give it a look tonight and report back.

edit: The fragment available to me did not recommend itself.

pixote
« Last Edit: December 07, 2017, 10:13:06 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

ProperCharlie

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #43 on: December 11, 2017, 03:13:30 AM »
A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner
Kineto Films
UK





Bracket Record:
  • Round 1 bt. The Electrical Vitalizer
Winner's Bracket:
  • Round 2 bt. The Four Little Tailors
  • Round 3 bt. Rose o' Salem Town
  • Round 4 bt. Max Takes a Bath
  • Round 5 lost to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Loser's Bracket:
  • Round 9 lost to The Beautiful Margaret
Link to film: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-a-day-in-the-life-of-a-coal-miner-1910-online

When I was a lad ee, it were ard.  Tough.  Up't a crack-a-dawn, straight down't pit. All day on't knees, pick in't hand, piggin' coal dust gettin' up't yer nose.  Up on't surface kids n' womenfolk pushin' tubs o'coal all day long.  All so some fat lord f'nt-le-roy and 'is fat flock of kids cant smoke 'is cigar in 'is socks.
 



This is a fascintating, political look at the life of miners in Wigan in 1910.  In Whitehaven Colliery that year, 136 men died in a firedamp explosion, the South Wales Miners' Federation began a 10-month strike over pay leading to the Tonypandy Riots. 300 suffragettes clashed with Police outside Parliament on Black Friday over the failure of a Bill that would have allowed some women the vote.  12 days later, a male suffragestist attempts to whip (literally) the Home Secretary, Winston Churchll, on a train.  At the end of the year, another explosion in a mine in Westhaugton, only five miles away from the mine shown in this film, kills 344 men.  Only one man who was underground at the time survived.  That's the background against which this film is set.




The film we see here shows the daily labour at a mine.  Men arrive, go down to the minehead in cages.  At the surface, more lifts filled with wagons of coal emerge to be pushed around by (mainly) women and kids, the coal sifted from the slag by hand by women, eventually making it to coal-wagons on the railway to be transported and sold.  The final shot is of a wealthy family enjoying a coal-fire, as the paterfamilias pulls his chair closer, cigar on the go.  Now, some of the shots are definitely staged.  For instance two miners on their needs with picks hacking at the coalface both stop and look at the camera the same time.  The miner leaving for work and returning.  The happy, warm, clean family with maid at the end.  Nevertheless, that this is the geunine daily grind of a mine is not in doubt, and it's all hard, hard work for the entire community.  The women all wear head coverings looking like something out of The Handmaid's Tale.  Everyone is covered in the black soot of coaldust.  Fingernails will never be clean again. 




There is also a good eye for composition.  Look at this shot (above).  It's like a still from a Joy Division video from Anton Corbijn.  The atmosphere isn't just grime, it's menacing and funereal.  These people are embittered.  The men check their pay carefully at the end of the day, eyeing their coins with suspicion.  There are hundreds of miners and mineworkers.  There is only one man who gets to hand out the pay.  Before going down into the mine, the lamps are checked carefully and sealed against leaks lest a stray flame spark the gases below.  Death is a genuine possiblity.  The pit-props are mostly sawn lengths of tree, some warped and bent.  A miner hammers one into position, using a stone to wedge it in place.  In the mine, the light is bright.  I have to wonder if that was actually shot in a mine.  Their lamps appear not to be alight, yet there is more than enough light coming from the source of illumination behind the camera.  It must have been a live flame lamp - there would have been no electrical supply down there, and as the list of mine disasters from the time show, a naked flame down a pit is not a risk to be undertaken.  I'm left wondering about how it was done.




The first 'official' documentary is 'Nanook of the North', made 12 years after this.  This film does tend towards 'actualities' rather than documentary, simply being a series of scenes from a day at the mine.  However, there is another story being told here.  It's definitely heading towards something we'd call a documentary today, even if it hasn't quite got there yet.  Also of interest is that this film was made at the behest of the London and North Western Railway, on of the four main railway companies in the UK at that time and probably one of the biggest consumers of coal in the country.  I would expect their point would be to show their role in taking coal from the mine to the household, giving another explanation for the sequences shown.  You could read this film as friendly Northern folk, with homes to go to, gainfully employed to their and your benefit, and my, don't they look happy!  But they don't, not really.  To my eye, there's more going on here than what was in the brief of the comissioning company.  Definitely one to watch.

Notes on the Vanquished:
  • The Electrical Vitalizer sounds like a wonderful little grotesque from the UK, indeed from Kineto, the company that made A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner.  In it, a man creates an electrical device which can animate waxwork dummies of historical figures.  And that's a new horror franchise right there.
  • The Four Little Tailors is yet more Cohl, this time animating clothing, needle and thread.  There does seem to be a story and moral framing this set of trick photography.
  • I'm hoping to get to Max Takes a Bath as I really want to review at least on Max Linder film.

ProperCharlie

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #44 on: December 11, 2017, 03:15:44 AM »
Is The Girl of the Northern Woods in the bracket, by chance? It's an extra on the Dawson City: Frozen Time Blu-Ray.

I'll give it a look tonight and report back.

edit: The fragment available to me did not recommend itself.

pixote

No, I've not come across that pix.  Your edit hasn't got it crying out as one to watch either.

I think I've just about come to an end of my 1910 marathon now.  I've got another 10 or so reviews to post up which I will do over the Christmas break.  Then I think I'll do a post-script about the film industry in 1910 and then, I'm thinking of doing 1911.  Perhaps as a more tradiational marathon with a few additional mini-precis like this one has had.

Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: ProperCharlie does Brackets: 1910
« Reply #45 on: December 11, 2017, 04:58:56 AM »
I went down into an old coal mine earlier this year, it would have been grim working in one when it was operational. Timber is used for the pit prop, because it bends, so if the roof above is going to break the beam it will creak, which would give the miners some warning. So that even today they use timber rather than steel framing. From what I remember, from the tour, until they had reliable electric lamps, the lamps were a burning fuel lamp. There was a person in charge of the canaries used in bad air detection.

 

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