More Wee Films of Georges Melies
In The Scheming Gamblers' Paradise (Le Tripot clandestin, 1905) we have a gambling den as the setting.
Everyone's having a grand time when suddenly someone runs in to warn the cops are coming. Quickly the table is folded into a new shape & the room is rearranged to look like an innocuous business. When the cops leave, it's turned back into a gambling den. A second raid looks as though it's more successful, but then the police officers just take over the table & start gambling.
The Human Fly (L'Homme mouche, 1902) is an especially striking trick-photography film. It's also hand-tinted for an equally striking full color impact. A still from it is shown at the top of this page.
A man is shown crawling on hands & knees all over a whall, while women stand on the floor nearby. It's obvious enough that it was shot from above & no great marvel, but so antic is the human fly, & so baroque the set design, that it is simply very funny & appealing.
A slapstick comedy, Good Glue Sticks (La Colle Universelle, 1907) regards a street vendor pitching his universally useful glue sticks to the public.
One of the signs on his vending stall is in English "The Best Glue" which should probably have been its English title though it's usually given as Good Glue or Good Glue Sticks. The English sign reflects how Melies was counting on theaters in the United Kingdom, United States, & Canada to exhibit his films.
The street seller is an honest man selling an honest product & has a willing crowd eager to buy. But two police officers mistrust all such vendors & attempt to shut down his business, forcefully scattering his potential customers.
Shaking his fist at the departing policemen, he sneaks away with a pot of glue for reasons of vengeance. When next we see the cops, they are lazily sleeping sitting up on a park bench. The vendor sneaks upon them & glues their shoulders together.
The previously harrassed crowd turns up to laugh hysterically at the cops staggering about glued to one another. The vendor has meanwhile returned to his stall, where the police show up to exact their revenge, gluing him by the seat of his pants to a window. The crowd helps free him, but nevertheless finds it just as funny no matter which side is winning.
The Humorous Posters (Les Affiches en goguettes, 1905) begins with a worker pasting posters to a wall, advertising a Parisian musical.
When the job is done the worker walks away, & the figures in the posters all come alive in order to interact with one another. A man & woman step out of the main poster & get drinks from the bartender in one of the smaller posters.
When two police officers happen by, the posters all turn back into printed drawings. But the police return & are harrassed by the living pictures.
For climax the wall of posters collapses, & behind it is an iron fence behind which several of the actors lurk. The poster wall is lifted back up & the actors do the can-can in front of it. It's a wonderful little comedy, one of Melies' funniest, clocking in at under three minutes.
One wonders if this was an old gag already or if Melies saw the half-minute version issued by American Mutoscope & Biograph the year before, & which just begged for an improved version.
In Kiss Me! (1904) we see among a row of posters that one has come alive. A bumpkin happens by & sees the beautiful woman in the poster smile & wink at him. The bumpkin's wife grabs him & drags him away before anything more can happen.
In a positively magical opening for the minute & a half of Jupiter's Thunderbolts (Le Tonnerre de Jupiter, 1903), a cloudy heavens is shown with the sun rising through a clearing, an eagle underneath the sun, & Jupiter king of gods upon the eagle.
He dismounts the eagle & strides about the cloudy heavens baring thunderbolts, & performs a fancy-dance with Mercury.
They then appear in a hall of a celestial palace on Mount Olympus. Vulcan comes buy with some newly forged thunderbolts, which Jupiter accidentally sets off prematurely knocking himself over, so he gets rather peevish with Vulcan & Hermes, chasing them away.
He then tosses bolts around the hall for the hell of it. The Muses appear to him & he dances the fandango with one of them. In the conclusion Jupiter stands alone center stage setting off thunderbolts willynilly.
One of Melies' sillier comedy shorts is The Fat & the Lean Wrestling Match (Nouvelles luttes extravagantes,1900), running two minutes.
It begins with Jeanne d'Alcy & another woman as lady wrestlers. The hot babes cover themselves with cloth & turn into a couple of guys.
These fellows' wrestling match includes whirling an oppoent round & about like a lightweight sack of socks, then dismantling an opponent limb from torso & putting him back together. Lastly, the women reappear as from out of the bodies of the guys.
The next pair of wrestlers are the fat man & the skiny guy. Fatty falls on his opponent & squashes him into a flat paper cut-out. Skinny reconstitutes himself 7amp jumps on fatty, blowing him out like a tire, his limbs flying off. Fatty reconstitutes himself & flees the ring.
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