Jan Krizenecky
Director: Jan Krizenecky

Director: Joseph Svab Malostransky

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Appointment at the Mill Pioneer Czech filmmaker Jan Krizenecky (1868-1921) exhibited his first films in 1898 in Prague. He made comedies & actualities until 1913, at first working independently, then for the first Czech film studio, Kinofa.

His primary influence would seem to have been the internationally distributed product of the Edison Manufacturing Company, & he had started out working with the Lumiere brothers.

Krizenecky's Appointment at the Mill (Dostavenicko ve mlynici; aka, Svabovo zmarene dostavenicko, 1898) opens on a scene outside what looks like an adobe inn or tavern, though we might be forced to suppose it's a mill by the title. But it really is a bar, & the word translated "mill" is a pun, sometimes rendered "grinding house," or bordello, hence the alternate title Rendezvous at the Grindhouse.

There's a bench in front of the building. A tall woman standing in front of the bench is being kissed by a lacivious fellow. She seems more or less to be kissing him back, though he's drunk & she's perfectly sober.

Tears & LaughterFirst one man & then several come rushing to make the couple stop. The cowering drunk is pointed at & abused. The woman is firmly led away, perhaps to jail.

A general fight breaks out among some of the men, closed umbrellas serving as duelling swords. Then the half-minute film is over.

The lacivious gent was played by cabaret comic Josef Svab-Malostransky (1860-1932), the first Czech film star, & author of the films in which he appears.

He also stars in Krizenecky's Tears & Laughter (Smich a plac, 1898). This one's twenty or so seconds of Josef in close-up on his face laughing & laughing, then not crying & crying. It's the "facial expression" genre of comedy.

The Billsticker & the Sausage Vendor (Vystavni parkai a lepic plakatu, 1898) stars the same commedian, as the sausage vendor. The film is not well preserved, but we see a "billsticker" or poster hanger in a black jacket affixing an advertisement to the front of a house.

BillstickerA sausage vendor in white butcher's outfit comes into the scene with a basket & a bucket, we may suppose, given the title, of sausages in the bucket & bagettes in the basket, though no food is ever seen.

The poster hanger & other gents gaze into the containers. I'm guessing they're deciding whether or not to buy their lunches from the street vendor.

Unexpectedly, from out of the building, a large number of rowdy men pile out, very likely kicked out of the place for fighting. General mayhem breaks out & the sausage man's bucket & besket are upturned (they look empty).

As jests go, it ain't much. If there is some connecting thread between the poster hanger, the sausage vendor, & the rowdy men from the building, I didn't catch what it was.

Josef Svab-Malostransky directed himself in Pet smyslu cloveka; aka, Prefatyn a jeho laska (1913). Although Jan Krizenecky had more or less left filmmaking in 1910, he returned to work with Josef, serving as cinematographer.

Josef Svab-MalostranskyJosef as Prefatyn comes out onto a street of Prague, fussing with his soldier's jacket, then setting off for mischief.

Along a street with outdoor fruit vendors, he finds himself standing behind a woman (Katy Kaclova-Valisova) at a fruit cart & she has just bent over. He struggles with this opportunity to grab her ass, but ends up helping her pick up some big cabbages instead.

His chivalry continues as he walks her to her apartment building, carrying some of her produce for her. He salutes her in soldierly fashion as she enters the building, then he sets out anew, this time to buy some flowers for her.

He paces nervously with his flowers in front of the building until she looks out from a window & tells him to come on up. She's happy to receive the flowers which she puts in a vase. He's happy to partake of a feast she has prepared for him, including wine, bread, meat, a big napkin around his neck. She does not eat with him, perhaps reflecting her occupation as a cook who doesn't eat with who employs her.

Though he's clearly a dufus who can't even sit in a rocking chair properly, she's just as obviously fond of him. She shows him some cigars expecting him to select one, but he takes them all & stuffs them in his pockets.

They sit together on a little divan & when they begin smooching, a curtain closes as though the film is over. But then out runs a chubby woman (Marie Klimesova) with cupid wings on her back & a bow in her hand. She does a perfectly dreadful & funny ballet of joy & peeps through the closed curtain at the embracing couple.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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