An Untimely Intrusion (1902)
Alternate Title: Intervention malencontreuse
Alice Guy returns to domestic comedy with this short. While it could be seen as a comment on dysfunctional relationships or domestic violence (or even elder abuse), I’m inclined to read it as a one-gag attempt to get a laugh.
The movie opens on an empty room, which seems to be the combination kitchen-bedroom of a small urban apartment. A man and a woman enter through doors at the back of the set. The man has a very obvious fake beard and the woman rather resembles pictures I’ve seen of Alice Guy. The couple is fighting, and the woman breaks her hat over the man’s head. They continue arguing, and the woman grabs the man, tearing off one of his sleeves. Now the man begins throwing plates on the floor, breaking them, and the woman does so too. An older woman (possibly the concierge, or landlady) enters the room with a broom, and the man accidentally hits her with something he was throwing at his wife. Soon, the man and woman team up against the old woman, yelling at her, breaking things on her, and laughing at her.
The funny moment here comes when the landlady comes in and unexpectedly gets hit. The title points out that the couple are mad at her for interrupting their fight. This is a pretty typical early slapstick-type film without special effects, editing, or a complex storyline. Unlike other examples of its kind, however, it doesn’t rely on gender stereotypes – the audience is free to decide which of the couple “started” the fight, and both are shown holding their own – neither comes across as a victim or a hero. I don’t think that it’s really Guy performing for the camera here, but at first I wasn’t sure.
Director: Alice Guy
Camera: Unknown (possibly Alice Guy)
Starring: Unknown (maybe Alice Guy, but I doubt it)
Run Time: 1 Min
You can watch it for free: here (no music).