How a French Nobleman Got a Wife Through the ‘New York Herald’ Personal Columns (1904)
Quite early on, Edwin S. Porter seems to have realized that the chase was a critical part of the spectacle of film that kept audiences coming back. The climactic chase in “The Great Train Robbery,” for example, is a good part of what makes it a dramatic success. Indeed, chase scenes remain an important element in film today. But, there were also many films made which were based on the chase as the central element, as this short comedy demonstrates. The basic concept is simple, an amorous single (and probably poor) foreigner has decided to place a personal ad, to find a mate. When he shows up at his announced rendezvous, he finds that far too many women have arrived, and he flees, to be pursued by the females through New York’s Riverside Park. Each shot shows him running, then each of the women in turn running after him. At the end, he is caught, ironically not by the swiftest runner, but by the one woman willing to follow him into a pond. Again, we have an interesting perspective on gender relations, something that wouldn’t seem out of place in an old Popeye cartoon: a man is overwhelmed by the attraction of the other sex and has to run from their ardor.
Director: Edwin S. Porter
Run Time: 11 Min
You can watch it for free: here.
This is one of those random old comedies that I might review someday–the simple (or stagnant) camerawork is quite a contrast with later, elaborate slapstick comedies!
It’s a great example of an early Nickelodeon Era chase comedy – quite a lot of these were cranked out, but this one has a certain charm that sets it apart.
[…] claim, for this is certainly not a slapstick comedy, but it has elements that hearken back to “How a French Nobleman Got a Wife” (as well as its predecessor, “Personal”), and at the same time seems to prefigure the kind […]