Cure for Pokeritis (1912)
Although he’s largely forgotten today, John Bunny was once a major silent star and comedian. He pre-dated the careers of the better-remembered slapstick specialists Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd, and was, in his day, one of the most recognizable faces in cinema. Unlike those other men, he wasn’t young and attractive when he got his start in film, but portly, middle aged, and cragged, with heavy jowls and white hair. He had been a successful actor on stage, but chose to make the move to film because of his enthusiasm for the possibilities of the new medium. His frequent co-star was Flora Finch (also in “Those Awful Hats“), and movies such as this, with the both of them as stars, were known as “Bunnyfinches.” In this one, they play a married couple. Bunny has a weekly poker game, at which he loses badly, and Finch makes him swear to stop. His friends come up with an out, pretending to have started a fraternal organization which meets once a week. She then employs her cousin, and his friends in a local bible study group, to follow him and discover his doings. When they catch the poker game, they disguise themselves as policemen, and stage a phony raid, agreeing to place the men in custody of their wives. The humor in this piece is not at all slapstick, and is based rather on period tropes and stereotypes, although Bunny’s performance and Finch’s are worth seeing as exemplars of the period.
Director: Laurence Trimble
Starring: John Bunny, Flora Finch, Harry T. Morey.
Run Time: 13 Min
You can watch it for free: here.