The O’Mers in “The Bricklayers” (1905)
Alternate Title: Les Maçons, Les O’Mers dans “Les Maçons”
This short film represents the first clear example of slapstick I’ve seen from Alice Guy. It has a “French” feel to it, but remains a fairly basic example of early filmmaking from the dawn of the Nickelodeon era.
We see a stage with a building facade backdrop with a scaffold in front. Four men in work clothes are hauling materials to the work site. Two policemen enter, and soon are knocked down by the busy workers. What at first seemed an accident soon escalates as the workers continue provoking and assailing the officers. The police give chase, but are consistently outwitted and knocked repeatedly down. There are falls from ladders, things dropped from a pulley a man knocked into a wheelbarrow, and water sprayed at the face. In short, it is a very simple performance with many laughs.
The print is somewhat more faded on this than other Guy films I’ve seen, but you can still make out the action. The title and the look of the film makes me suspect that this is a filmed version of a vaudeville ensemble, giving a performance much as they would on the stage, only now without sound. The performance is well timed to come off in a single take, and about seven performers have to time their entrances, exits, and physical performances with one another to make it work. The O’Mers, whoever they were, do a fine job in all respects, but the film itself is rather unimaginative for 1905.
Director Alice Guy
Camera: Unknown (possibly Alice Guy)
Cast: Someone called “The O’Mers”
Run Time: 2 Min 10 secs
You can watch it for free: here.