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Antti Alanen: Film Diary:

Max entre deux feux / Max, The Heartbreaker / From the Frying Pan into the Fire

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US: Max, the Heartbreaker; GB: From the Frying Pan into the Fire FR 1917 regia/dir, scen: Max Linder. cast: Max Linder (se stesso/himself), Marcelle Leuvielle (Dora, la bionda/the blonde), ? (Maud, la mora/the brunette). prod: Pathé (cat. no. 7727). riprese/filmed: 1916 (Genève). anteprima esercenti/trade screening: 3.4.1917. uscita/rel: 4.5.1917 (Omnia Pathé, Paris). copia/copy: DCP, 11′ (da/from 35 mm, [orig. 580 m]); did./titles: FRA . fonte/source: Gaumont Pathé Archives, Saint-Ouen, Paris. Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM), Pordenone. European Slapstick - Prog. 1: Later Linder. Grand piano: Philip Carli. Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian, 5 Oct 2019. Lisa Stein Haven (GCM): "Whenever Max Linder was nearing a mental or physical breakdown, he fled to either Switzerland (Chamonix or Montreux) or the French Riviera (Nice or Monte Carlo). Such was his state when he filmed Max entre deux feux, which was most likely filmed in 1916 but not released until the following spring, when Linder was still in America. Pathé often held Linder’s films for later release to keep him on French screens as frequently as possible." "For this period of recuperation, Linder took with him his sister Marcelle, whom he cast as one of the two women vying for his affections in the film. In true Max Linder dandified fashion, he arrives on the Côte d’Azur and decides to woo two women, hopefully without either of them finding out. Max is successful for a while, but his ruse is soon discovered. The ladies decide to engage in a duel to decide who will be Max’s true love, but Max hides high in a tree to observe the proceedings and ends up being the receiver of the gunshot." "The reviewer in the Moving Picture World (30 June 1917) spent more ink proclaiming “the scenic beauty of the Riviera” setting rather than the success or failure of Linder’s comedy: “The comedy element is rather slow in coming, but when it comes Max gets over a full share of laughs.” Certainly, Linder appearing in a Pathé film in the spring of 1917 must have been a bit confusing for audiences, since headlines were busy reporting his activities in America, working under contract to Essanay. " Lisa Stein Haven (GCM) AA: There seems to be some confusion around this film. Shown was a print with Romanian intertitles (not French as announced), with the title Max in America, which refers to another film, Max Comes Across, but this was not Max Comes Across. Neither does the synopsis above belong to the film screened. This film starts with a drunk sequence. Two drunk gentlemen harness a horse backwards in front of a carriage. At home Max continues with the backwards obsession, walking upstairs backwards. His parents have had enough of his debauchery and kick him out. There are affinities in this sequence with Chaplin's One A.M. Down and out, Max attempts suicide. He cleans the rails carefully before lying down in front of a speeding train, but the train switches tracks. He tries to hang himself, but the rope gets broken. This sequence has affinities with Keaton's Hard Luck. Having discovered an invitation in his clothes Linder crashes a party. He has a way with the ladies. He dances with exaggerated abandon. He gorges on cream cakes. He puts a cat into the piano. He overdoes everything. As a final solution he applies for a job as a driver although he does not know how to drive. When ladies whom he has impressed at the party need a car, Max changes hats (from the driver's cap to his signature top hat) and pretends to be another customer. There is great physical comedy as Max tries to wiggle his way into the driver's seat and stop with his body strength the car whose brakes are switched off. The speeding car hits a brick wall and the ladies emerge from the rubble trying to find poor Max. They discover him juggling in the overhead wires. This DCP is from a Romanian source with jump cuts, scratches, low definition and a duped look. It still conveys Max Linder's touch and energy.

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