Dranem Performs “The True Jiu-Jitsu” (1905)
Alternate Title: Dranem, Le Vrais Jiu-Jitsu
This is another short sound-disc movie from Alice Guy which features a singer. In this case, the singer is Armand Dranem, often just called by the stage name “Dranem” (which is a reversal of his birth last name, Menard), who was a rising star in France at the time.
What we see is quite familiar by now: a small stage with a backdrop and the singer walks out and begins his song. In this case, the backdrop is sort of abstract – it reminded me at first of the sea floor, but after a while I decided that the floating shapes were not actually fish. Dranem himself is somewhat non-descript and closely resembles Polin, in fact. The song he performs, and his attire, however, would be more acceptable in 1900’s comedy than today. He wears a long ponytail and is dressed up to resemble an Asian, specifically a Chinese man. I did not look up the lyrics this time, because I got the idea without them: he is making fun of Chinese accents and people. Probably a big hit at the time, it doesn’t seem that funny to me now.
Dranem was a music hall singer whose comedy songs were very popular in France, and he went on to do a number of movies, the best-known of which may be “Monsieur Albert” (1932), in which he has a small part. He didn’t do much during the silent period, apart from these phonoscènes, but made money from stage and audio performances before becoming in-demand at sound studios.
Keen-eyed observers will note the “Gaumont” logo on the lower right, again much smaller than its counterparts in American films of the time.
Director: Alice Guy
Camera: Unknown (possibly Alice Guy or Anatole Thiberville)
Run Time: 2 Min, 30 secs
You can watch it for free: here.