The Policemen's Little Run
Director: Ferdinand Zecca

Producers: Ambroise-Francois Parnaland
& Emmanuel Ventujol

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Policemen's Little Run (La Course des sergents de ville, 1907) is a six-minute Pathe comedy in the manner of Keystone cops, but predating the Keystones. Two police officers in baggy uniforms take off running after a dog that has just stolen a leg of lamb or some such from the meat market.

The Policemen's Little RunSoon a third cop joins in the merry chase down some great street locations. As the dog comes down a staircase, there are suddenly a huge number of cops in pursuit, waving their batons.

The dog enters a coal chute into a basement & runs up a stairway into a building. The cops are dropping into the basement still eager to catch the dog, which has left the building, & the chase continues through the streets.

Unexpectedly turning to the fantastic (as director Ferdinand Zecca was an early fantasy director), the dog runs straight up the side of a building which the horde of policemen start climbing, reaching an ornate dormered & tiled roof.

The dog leaps to the far ground, one cop falls, the rest climb back down & follow the dog through a window & over the bed of a man who was trying to sleep. The man, frightened, leaps up from his bed & out the window.

The Movies BeginThe dog finally arrives home at its doghouse. The police gather round the doghouse threateningly, so the dog runs out barking & biting to protect his master's property & the leg of lamb.

The police flee in terror. The dog won't give up the chase as the cops flee all the way to their doghouse, the police station. This film can be found on the collection The Movies Begin: A Treasury of Early Cinema 1894-1913.

Films made by Parnaland & Ventujol from 1904 to 1907 were distributed exclusively to fairground exhibitors.

Emmanuel Ventujol had worked with the Lumiere brothers, & Ambroise-Francois Parnaland was an early inventor of motion picture cameras that did not have to be wound by hand, making speed for playback at last predictable.

The Policeman's Mistake; aka, Policeman's Error (Le Errore del policeman, 1904) sold its foreign rights to Georges Melies whose American office distributed it to US theaters. It's a pleasant enough little comedy & elaborately plotted for 1904.

One morning a woman kisses two men goodbye as they set off for work or wherever. Chances are the younger man was her son or brother, who knows, but a third man in the street is quite surprised that this woman appears to his dirty mind to have two husbands or perhaps sexual clients.

The Policeman's MistakeThe dirty-minded witness soon after comes courting at the home of the woman with two men, trying to give her flowers, but getting smacked in the face a couple times for his efforts. She hurries to the police station to report the masher trespassing in her house.

The policeman promises to beat the crap out of the guy, who is still waiting in the woman's home as though expecting good things yet to come. Meanwhile, the older of the two gents from that morning misses his train.

He returns to his home finding his wife is out, but not knowing the masher is hiding behind curtains. In walks the police officer eager to give a hard time to the wrong man, rolling up his sleeves for a battle, & throwing him out on his keester.

The wife, not having seen who was kicked out, praises the officer then sets back down to her reading, when out from the curtains steps the masher still begging for a romp. She whacks him with the flowers & goes again for the police.

There follows an elaborate jest of how the masher hid in a chest, & how the man who actually lived there tried to have himself shipped back into his residence in a similar chest. This time the right man is saved by his wife & the masher finally captured by the cop.

Trivial certainly, but better than many better-known film survivals from the time, & a good example of the sort of tepid farce that dominated early filmmaking, which Melies personally moved away from into high flights of fantasy & imagination.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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