Terrible Teddy, the Grizzly King (1901)
This may be the first American political satire film, as well as being an early example of the work of director Edwin S. Porter. Porter, who up to this point had made many actualities as well as short comedic subjects strongly reminiscent of the work of Méliès, but this one does seem to express more of his “voice” as a director. It is apparently based on political cartoons that had run in major newspapers the same month as it was produced, giving an idea how fast the turnaround on film production was at the time. Theodore Roosevelt was being played up in the press as a serious outdoorsman, and a story ran about how he heroically killed a mountain lion; the cartoons and the film show him as a bumbler, followed by a press agent and a photographer, who guns down a harmless house cat, and skins it for the audience. Americans have always enjoyed laughing at our political figures, and Teddy was a particularly congenial subject for both friendly and unfriendly media humor. While this picture may not be as sophisticated as “The Daily Show,” it gives some hint as to the future importance of political comedy in our culture.
Director: Edwin S. Porter
Run Time: 1 Min
You can watch it for free: here.