23 January 2022

The Incredibles (2004)

In our sixth and for now the last post on Pixar, we focus on the superhero film The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). This American computer-animated film was the sixth feature produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Set in a fictitious version of the 1960s, the film follows Bob and Helen Parr, a couple of superheroes, known as Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, who hide their powers in accordance with a government mandate and attempt to live a quiet suburban life with their three children. Bob's desire to help people draws the entire family into a confrontation with a vengeful fan-turned-foe. Although the film was not as successful as its predecessor Finding Nemo (2003), it still received 27 awards and the film's DVD was the best-selling DVD of 2005, selling 17.4 million copies.

The Incredibles (2004)
Belgian postcard by Boomerang. Image: Disney / Pixar. The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). Caption: Now on DVD!

Artwork for The Incredibles (2004)
American postcard by Disney Enterprises / Pixar Animation Studios, 2005. Image: Pixar Animation Studios. Art by Robert McGinnis for The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). From 'The Art of Pixar: 100 Collectible Postcards, published by Chronicle Books.

The Incredibles (2004)
American postcard by Disney Enterprises / Pixar Animation Studios, 2005. Image: Pixar Animation Studios. Film image of The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). From 'The Art of Pixar: 100 Collectible Postcards, published by Chronicle Books.

Korean poster for The Incredibles (2004)
American postcard by Disney Enterprises / Pixar Animation Studios, 2005. Image: Pixar Animation Studios. Korean poster for The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). From 'The Art of Pixar: 100 Collectible Postcards, published by Chronicle Books.

Artwork for The Incredibles (2004)
American postcard by Disney Enterprises / Pixar Animation Studios, 2005. Image: Pixar Animation Studios. Art by Paul Topolos for The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). From 'The Art of Pixar: 100 Collectible Postcards, published by Chronicle Books.

The Incredibles (2004)
Belgian postcard by Boomerang promoting the DVD of the film. Image: Disney / Pixar. Jack-Jack in The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004).

Ex-superheroes


The story of The Incredibles begins with a still young Mr. Incredible a.k.a. Bob Parr who, like any superhero, performs his daily heroic deeds. He is unexpectedly visited by Buddy, a young fan eager to become his helper. Buddy turns out to be more of a nuisance than a help, despite his self-invented gadgets, and Mr. Incredible sends him away.

Later that day, he marries the superheroine Elastigirl (Helen). Then, suddenly, things go wrong. After Mr. Incredible saves a man who was about to commit suicide, the man sues him. This leads to a chain reaction of lawsuits against superheroes. The government decides to help the superheroes by setting up a special programme that will pay for all their lawsuits and provide them with new identities, on the condition that they never do heroic work again.

15 years later, Bob and Helen have settled into a quiet little town. They now have three children: teenage Violet, 10-year-old Dashiell ("Dash"), and baby Jack-Jack. Violet and Dash each have superpowers, but Jack-Jack is apparently normal. Bob, who now works at an insurance company, is frustrated that he can't help anyone anymore. He still tries to be a "hero" by pointing out loopholes in the law to his clients so they can get their benefits. He also regularly goes out at night with his old friend Lucius (also an ex-superhero called Frozone) to help people.

He is unknowingly shadowed by Mirage, a mysterious woman. After Bob loses his job, Mirage contacts him. She offers him a large sum of money if Bob will take out a runaway robot, the Omnidroid 9000, on an island. Bob accepts the job and defeats the Omnidroid. After this, Bob gets more and more assignments. He starts training again to get in shape and has the fashion designer Edna Mode make him a new suit.

Two months later, Mirage calls Bob again. When Bob arrives on the same island again, he is attacked by an enhanced version of the Omnidroid. He is captured by the mastermind behind the Omnidroid, a man called Syndrome. This Syndrome is none other than his old fan Buddy. He has made a fortune over the past 15 years inventing and selling weapons. He has kept the best weapons in order to become a hero, despite his lack of superpowers.

Later, when Mr. Incredible escapes and looks into Syndrome's computer, he is horrified to discover that Syndrome has already killed dozens of superheroes to prepare his Omnidroid for battle with Mr. Incredible. At home, Helen discovers Bob's absence. When she sees that his old superhero suit has been repaired, she immediately goes to Edna.

Edna shows the superhero costumes that she has made for all the members of the family. From Edna, she hears that Bob was fired months ago and has started working as a superhero again. Thanks to a transmitter Edna fitted into Bob's suit, Helen discovers Bob's location and immediately jets off to the island. Dash and Violet come along as stowaways. Unfortunately for Mr. Incredible, the transmitter also gives his location away to Syndrome and he is captured again.

The Incredibles (2004)
American postcard by Disney Enterprises / Pixar Animation Studios, 2005. Image: Pixar Animation Studios. Film image of The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). From 'The Art of Pixar: 100 Collectible Postcards, published by Chronicle Books.

Artwork for The Incredibles (2004)
American postcard by Disney Enterprises / Pixar Animation Studios, 2005. Image: Pixar Animation Studios. End credit art by Teddy Newton for The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). From 'The Art of Pixar: 100 Collectible Postcards, published by Chronicle Books.

Artwork for The Incredibles (2004)
End credit art by Teddy NewtonAmerican postcard by Disney Enterprises / Pixar Animation Studios, 2005. Image: Pixar Animation Studios. Film image of The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). From 'The Art of Pixar: 100 Collectible Postcards, published by Chronicle Books.

Concept art for The Incredibles (2004)
American postcard by Disney Enterprises / Pixar Animation Studios, 2005. Image: Pixar Animation Studios. Concept art by Lou Romano for The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). From 'The Art of Pixar: 100 Collectible Postcards, published by Chronicle Books.

Concept art for The Incredibles (2004)
American postcard by Disney Enterprises / Pixar Animation Studios, 2005. Image: Pixar Animation Studios. Concept art by Lou Romano for The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). From 'The Art of Pixar: 100 Collectible Postcards, published by Chronicle Books.

The Incredibles (2004)
Belgian postcard by Boomerang. Image: Disney / Pixar. The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). Caption: Now on DVD!

Alternating breakneck action with satire of suburban sitcom life


Brad Bird originally conceived the screenplay for The Incredibles for a traditional, animated film for Warner Bros. According to his own account, he got the idea from a drawing he had made in 1993. He developed the film as an extension of the 1960s comic books and spy films from his boyhood and personal family life. After the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action (Joe Dante, Eric Goldberg, 2003) became a flop, Warner Bros. closed its animated film division, and the project for The Incredibles was cancelled.

When Bird later talked to his friend John Lasseter about the film, Lasseter convinced him to give Pixar a try. Bird and Lasseter knew each other from their college years at CalArts in the 1970s. Pixar accepted Bird's script but changed the animation to computer animation. This made it the first Pixar film to feature only human characters.

At his request, Bird was allowed to put together his own crew. He approached people he had worked with on The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999), among others. Bird's idea contained many scenes that were difficult for computer animation to do. Among other things, new techniques were needed to realistically depict human anatomy, clothing, and skin. Among other things, Violet's long hair was technically difficult to draw. The film was largely treated as if it were a live-action production.

John Barry was the first choice for the composer because of his music for the trailer of the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Peter R. Hunt, 1969). However, Barry did not want to recreate his old soundtracks for the film, so Michael Giacchino was approached. The music in the film is entirely instrumental.

Critics' reactions were very positive. Critic Roger Ebert awarded the film 3.5 out of 4 stars and wrote: "The Pixar Studios, which cannot seem to take a wrong step, steps right again with "The Incredibles," a superhero spoof that alternates breakneck action with satire of suburban sitcom life. After the "Toy Story" movies, "A Bug's Life," "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo," here's another example of Pixar's mastery of popular animation."

The film is generally regarded as one of the best Pixar films. One point that many critics noticed was that the film had a much more serious and mature undertone than previous Pixar films. However, this was also a point of negative criticism. The film clearly contained more and more realistic violence than previous Pixar films.

The film won the Academy Award in 2005 for the Best Animated Film (the second Pixar film to win this award) and the award for best sound effects. The film was also nominated for the award for best screenplay and best sound. The Incredibles made $70,467,623 in its opening week, more than any Pixar film has ever made in its opening week. The film even (just) beat Finding Nemo's revenue of $70,251,710. The film brought in a total of $261,441,092, making it the second most successful Pixar film ever, and the fifth most successful film of 2004. Worldwide revenue was $631,436,092. A sequel, Incredibles 2, was released in 2018.

Bob Parr, Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles (2004), 15,
British postcard by Arcard Cards promoting Toshiba's Qosmio AV Notebook PC, no. 678. Image: Disney / Pixar. Bob Parr, Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). Caption: Mr. Incredible. HT: 2.0m. WT: 158 kg. Powers: Strength & Agility. Fifteen years (and fifty pounds) after he hung up his hero suit, Mr. Incredible, once the best-known most popular super alive, has gone underground and is living as Bob Parr, a claims adjuster at possibly the world's worst insurance company, Insuricare. Though Bob's preoccupation with bygone days has taken a toll on him and his family, he's surprised to learn that his greatest adventures lay ahead.

Helen Parr, Elastigal in The Incredibles (2004)
British postcard by Arcard Cards promoting Toshiba's Qosmio AV Notebook PC, no. 679. Image: Disney / Pixar. Helen Parr, Elastigal in The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). Caption: Elastigal. HT: 1.73 m. WT: 56.7 kg. Powers: Flexibility & Stretching. Helen Parr, Bob's wife, has adjusted to normal life quite well and is busily focused on caring for her three children. While she occasionally uses her amazing stretching ability to meet the daily challenges of motherhood, she is careful to do so only behind the closed doors of their suburban home. She misses the old days but doesn't dwell on them. She only wishes that Bob would do the same.

Dashiell 'Dash' Parr in The Incredibles (2004)
British postcard by Arcard Cards promoting Toshiba's Qosmio AV Notebook PC, no. 680. Image: Disney / Pixar. Dash in The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). Caption: Dash. HT: 1.22 m. WT: 29.5 kg. Powers: Super speed & Superior Reaction Time. Like most ten-year-old boys, Dash seems to be moving even when standing still. Full of restless energy, he has the power of super speed, a power so useful for playing pranks on his least favourite teacher that he has difficulty keeping it in check. Dash has been called into the principal's office more than once, but he's never been caught. Dash doesn't understand why his family should hide their powers - why would they have them if they weren't supposed to use them?

Violet Parr in The Incredibles (2004)
British postcard by Arcard Cards promoting Toshiba's Qosmio AV Notebook PC, no. 681. Image: Disney / Pixar. Violet in The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). Caption: Violet. HT: 1.37m. WT: 158kg [sic]. Powers: Invisibility & Forcefield. Violet Parr is, in most ways, a typical shy, insecure teenage girl stuck at the crossroads between child and woman. She, like her superhero parents, possesses special powers. It seems only right that hers allow her to disappear from view and her problems, at a moment's notice - especially for someone who desperately wants to be like everybody else, but isn't.

Jack-Jack Parr in The Incredibles (2004)
British postcard by Arcard Cards promoting Toshiba's Qosmio AV Notebook PC, no. 682. Image: Disney / Pixar. Jack-Jack in The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). Caption: Jack-Jack. HT: 0.76m. WT: 11.3kg. Powers: unknown. Jack-Jack is the little black sheep of the family. The most unusual thing about him is how there is nothing unusual about him. But who knows? Like all babies, he has 'incredible' potential.

Lucius Best, Frozone in The Incredibles (2004)
British postcard by Arcard Cards promoting Toshiba's Qosmio AV Notebook PC, no. 683. Image: Disney / Pixar. Lucius Best, Frozone in The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). Caption: Frozone. HT: 1.88m. WT: 81.6kg. Powers: Freezing Ability. Lucius Best used to be known as Frozone - the coolest Super of them all. His style, wit, and ability to create ice from moisture in the air (not to mention his special multi-function boots) made him the envy of every gadget-loving little boy. The best friend of Mr. Incredible. Lucius knows the old days are done and doesn't try to relive the past. But he knows Bob still wants to and tries to help him chill out in any way he can.

Edna 'E' Mode in The Incredibles (2004)
British postcard by Arcard Cards promoting Toshiba's Qosmio AV Notebook PC, no. 684 Image: Disney / Pixar. Edna 'E' Mode in The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). Caption: Edna Mode. Ht: 1.12 m. Wt: Not telling, Dahling! Powers: Fashion Genious, Dahling! Though she first gained notoriety as the world's leading superhero costume designer, Edna Mode (known as E) remains a leading figure in international fashion. Still at the top of her game, E is bored with vapid, "brainless" supermodels, finding it particularly galling as she "used to design for Gods." She longs for the return of the Supers, for a real design challenge, for one more chance to fuse the latest technology with her impeccable fashion sense.

Buddy Pine a.k.a. Syndrome in The Incredibles (2004)
British postcard by Arcard Cards promoting Toshiba's Qosmio AV Notebook PC, no. 685 Image: Disney / Pixar. Buddy Pine a.k.a. Syndrome in The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004). Caption: Syndrome. Ht: 1.85 m. Wt: 83.9 kg Powers: Unlimited Budget. Highly intelligent and cunning, Syndrome spends his days on Nomanison Island, a remote paradise on the far side of the world. An accomplished inventor, Syndrome is torn between admiration and resentment towards the Supers.

Sources: Roger Ebert (RogerEbert.com), Wikipedia (Dutch and English), and IMDb.

Directed by Max Reinhardt

Austrian-born theatre and film director, intendant, and theatrical producer Max Reinhardt (1873-1943) was one of the great innovators of the theatre in the early 20th century. In 1920, he established the Salzburg Festival with the performance of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's 'Jedermann'. He also directed several films, including Sumurûn (1910) and Das Mirakel (1912). Reinhardt profoundly influenced the expressionist movement in German film and his staging of crowds and use of lighting were appropriated by F. W. Murnau, Ernst Lubitsch, and Fritz Lang. In 1934, he went into exile and made in Hollywood A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935).

Max Reinhardt
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 8615. Photo: Hofphot. E. Bieber, Hamburg. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Eduard von Winterstein, Oscar Beregi, and Else Heims in Sommernachtstraum
German postcard by Jos Paul Böhm, München, no. 32. Photo: Jos Paul Böhm, München. Eduard von Winterstein, Oscar Beregi, and Else Heims in the play 'Sommernachtstraum', Max Reinhardt's staging of Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream'. It was first staged by Reinhardt in 1905.

Henrick and Richard Grossmann in Sumurun
German postcard by Photo und Kunstverlag Jos. Paul Böhm, München, no. 3061. Photo: publicity still for Sumurun (Max Reinhardt, 1910) with at right Richard Grossman as the old woman. But who is the man left, Henrick? Richard Grossman played 'Die alte' (the old woman) in Max Reinhardt's first film, Sumurun (1910), based on a Pantomime by Friedrich Freksa. Perhaps this photo was made for Reinhardt's stage production, 'Sumurun' (1909) at the Kammerspielen des Deutsches Theaters. Grete Wiesenthal played the lead as Sumurun and she would repeat her role in the 1910 film version. Leopoldine Konstantin played the dancer both on stage as in the 1910 film. However, of the four main male actors - Alexander Moissi (as Nur Al Din), Rudolf Schildkraut, Paul Wegener (as the old Sheik) and Eduard von Winterstein (as his son) - only Von Winterstein returned in Reinhardt's film version, but now in the role of the old Sheik. And Wegener would return as the old Sheik in the 1920 film version of Sumurun by Ernst Lubitsch.

Paul Wegener in König Oedipus (1910)
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, no. 4553a, Berlin. Photo: Zander & Labisch, Berlin. Caption: King Oedipus. Paul Wegener in 'Oedipus Rex', Sophocles's classic tragedy, directed by Max Reinhardt in a translation by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, first performed in 1910, first in a Summer festival in Munich and in the Fall in a circus arena Berlin. Stars were Paul Wegener as Oedipus and Tilla Durieux as Jocasta, though some considered the masses of extras performing the Thebans to be the real stars. Emily Bilski, in Berlin Metropolis: Jews and the New Culture, 1890-1918, writes: "Oedipus was the first major theater-in-the-round production in modern times that featured masses of actors performing for a mass audience."

Maria Carmi in Das Mirakel (1912)
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 8579. Photo: Becker & Maass. Maria Carmi as the Madonna in Das Mirakel/The Miracle (Cherry Kearton, Max Reinhardt, 1912).

Max Reinhardt
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 8614, 1916. Photo: Hofphot. E. Bieber, Hamburg. Collection: Didier Hanson.

His early landmark of genius


Max Reinhardt was born Maximilian Goldmann in 1873 in the spa town of Baden near Vienna where his parents were spa guests. He was the oldest of seven children of Wilhelm Goldmann, a Jewish merchant from Stupava, Hungary, and his wife Rachel Lea Rosi "Rosa" Goldmann (née Wengraf). Wilhelm was a corset maker and the family – officially Reinhardt after 1904 – lived in Vienna, the capital and residential city of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, where they belonged to the organised Jewish Community of Vienna.

As a boy, Max haunted the Hofburg Theater and tried to see every play. Having finished school, he began an apprenticeship at a bank but already took acting lessons at the Sulkowsky Theater in Matzleinsdorf. In 1890, he gave his debut on a private stage in Vienna with the stage name Max Reinhardt, possibly after the protagonist Reinhard Werner in Theodor Storm's novella 'Immensee'. In 1893 he performed at the re-opened Salzburg City Theatre. One year later, Reinhardt relocated to Germany, joining the Deutsches Theater ensemble in Berlin under director Otto Brahm, who had brought the drama of Henrik Ibsen to Germany. In Berlin, Max achieved great success as an actor and director.

In 1901, Reinhardt together with Friedrich Kayßler and several other young artists created a lighthearted revue, 'Schall und Rauch' (Sound and Smoke), to which Reinhardt contributed sketches. Playing before invited audiences, it was so successful that it was transformed into a serious work and settled into the Kleines Theater (Little Theatre) in 1902. Reinhardt planned a full season and directed his first play, Oscar Wilde’s 'Salomé'. It was the first of numerous stages.

From 1903 to 1905, he managed the Neues Theater (present-day Theater am Schiffbauerdamm). By the end of 1904, he had directed 42 plays. William McPeak at IMDb: "These were all a part of his evolving philosophy of the harmony of stage design, costumes, language, music, and choreography as a whole unified artwork, Gesamtkunstwerk. He was influenced by several figures, August Strindberg for one, but most significantly by Richard Wagner and his operatic ideal that the director must pull together all aspects of art in his production. Reinhardt's infusion gave new dimensions to German theater."

His early landmark of genius was the production in 1905 of William Shakespeare’s 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' with a wooded forest revolving stage - turning to reveal progressive new scenes. He became famous for the realistic direction of huge crowd scenes. Hovahnness Israel Pilikian at Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Reinhardt’s staging was swift, light, and joyous, capturing for audiences the theatrical brilliance that had been buried for so long beneath productions devoted to a ponderous, reverent delivery of Shakespeare’s words."

In 1906, he acquired the Deutsches Theater (German Theatre) and placated Brahm, who was furious over his breach of contract. At age 32, Reinhardt had reached the pinnacle of his profession. He completely rebuilt the German theatre, introducing the latest technological innovations in scenic design, and started a school. Purchasing a tavern next door, Reinhardt remodeled it into a small theatre for plays that needed intimacy with the audience. He summarised his new concept in theatre with the word 'Kammerspiele', chamber plays. William McPeak at IMDb: " This all opened Reinhardt to even more experimental ideas in staging with sometimes nightmarish and vivid lighting techniques. He began introducing the expressionist plays to the German-speaking public. "

In 1911, Max Reinhardt premiered with Karl Vollmöller's 'The Miracle' in Olympia, London, gaining an international reputation. It was Reinhardt’s most spectacular work and, at the same time, probably the most characteristic. Reinhardt was fascinated by the emotional richness of Roman Catholic rites and Gregorian chants. His production of 'The Miracle' involved more than 2,000 actors, musicians, dancers, and other personnel. Hovahnness Israel Pilikian at Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Performed without dramatic dialogue, it was a modern-day reunification of drama and ritual. It was pure theatre in the most archetypal sense."

From 1915 to 1918, Reinhardt also worked as director of the Volksbühne theatre and after World War I, he re-opened the Großes Schauspielhaus (after World War II renamed into Friedrichstadtpalast) in 1919, following its expressionist conversion by Hans Poelzig. In 1919 he opened an enormous arena theatre, the 'Grosses Schauspielhaus' (Great Playhouse), but known as the 'Theatre of the Five Thousand', which included a large revolving stage. Many of his biggest productions were done here, including Shakespeare and Greek plays. In the 1920s he built the two Boulevard Theaters on the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin. By 1930, he ran eleven stages in Berlin and, in addition, managed the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna from 1924 to 1933.

In 1920, Reinhardt established the Salzburg Festival with composer Richard Strauss and playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal, notably directing an annual production of the morality play 'Jedermann'(Everyman) in which God sends Death to summon a representative of mankind for judgment. He staged the play in the city’s cathedral square. With Reinhardt’s support, the Salzburg Festival became an annual event, bringing about a new interest in the dramas of the Middle Ages from which Jedermann was adapted. Alexander Moissi played the role of Everyman in seven Festival summers – until his last performance on 30 August 1931. Although Moissi was, in fact, a baptised Christian, his name struck Antisemites as Jewish, and "Moissi the Jew" was subjected to a nasty campaign of character assassination by Salzburg Antisemites and Nazis who demanded that Festival president Baron Puthon refuse to involve the star of the Reinhardt ensembles in Berlin, Vienna and Salzburg in the 1932 season. When Moissi refused to play the role of Everyman if he was otherwise excluded, the Festival replaced him.

Reinhardt staged fourteen plays in the Festival city: 'Jedermann'(Everyman), 'The Great World Theater of Salzburg', 'The Hypochondriac', Das Mirakel (The Miracle), 'The Green Flute', 'Turandot', 'Servant of Two Masters', William Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer's Night Dream', 'Love and Intrigue', 'The Thief', 'Victoria', 'The Difficult', 'Stella' and finally 'Faust' in 1933. Mephisto was played by Max Pallenberg, a member of Reinhardt's ensemble at the German Theatre, whose Salzburg Festival roles also included The devil in 'Jedermann'(Everyman), Argan in 'The Hypochondriac', and Truffaldino in 'Turandot'. Pallenberg also had to leave the place of his triumphs, Berlin, in 1933.

In the United States, Max Reinhardt also successfully directed 'The Miracle' in 1924 and a popular stage version of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in 1927. By employing powerful staging techniques, and integrating stage design, language, music and choreography, Reinhardt introduced new dimensions into German theatre. He founded the drama schools Hochschule für Schauspielkunst 'Ernst Busch' in Berlin and the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna, which is arguably the most important German-language acting school. Many alumni of these schools made their careers in film.

In 1918 Reinhardt purchased the castle Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, formerly a summer palace of Salzburg's rulers, the Prince-Archbishops, which had fallen into disrepair. While living in it for nearly 20 years, he painstakingly restored the castle. He had to flee due to the Nazis' increasing anti-Semitic aggressions. The castle was seized following Germany's Anschluss annexation of Austria in 1938. After the war, the castle was restored to Reinhardt's heirs, and subsequently, the home and grounds became famous as the filming site for the early scenes of the Von Trapp family gardens in the film The Sound of Music.

Eduard von Winterstein as Faust
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 1957. Eduard von Winterstein as Faust in 'Faust' directed by Max Reinhardt (1913-1916).

Else Eckersberg and Johannes Riemann in Fasching (1917)
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 3008. Photo: Nicola Perscheid. Else Eckersberg as countess Liszka and Johannes Riemann in the play 'Fasching' (Farsang; Fashions for Men) by Ferenc Molnar, directed by Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater in 1917. Sent by mail in 1917.

Leopoldine Konstantin in Sumurûn (1910)
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, no. 4310. Photo: Becker & Maass. Collection: Didier Hanson. Leopoldine Konstantin in Sumurun (Max Reinhardt, 1910).

Paul Wegener in König Oedipus (1910)
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 4552. Photo: Becker & Maass. Caption: Paul Wegener as King Oedipus.

Maria Carmi in Das Mirakel
German postcard by Verleih Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilmersdorf, no. 7758. Maria Carmi in Das Mirakel/The Miracle (Cherry Kearton, Max Reinhardt, 1912). Collection: Didier Hanson.

Fritz Delius as Romeo
German postcard by Herm. Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 8756. Photo: Becker & Maass. Fritz Delius as Romeo in 'Romeo and Juliet' by William Shakespeare, probably under the direction of Max Reinhardt, ca. 1913.

Fritz Delius in Kabale und Liebe
German postcard by Herm. Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 8760. Photo: Becker & Maass. Fritz Delius as Ferdinand in a 1917 stage production of Friedrich Schiller's 'Kabale und Liebe' (Intrigue and Love), under the direction of Max Reinhardt.

Maria Fein in Maria Stuart
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 9491. Photo: Becker & Maass, Berlin. Maria Fein in the title role of Friedrich Schiller's 'Maria Stuart' (Mary Stuart) in a performance at the German Theater in Berlin, 1916.

A feast for starving souls


Max Reinhardt took a greater interest in the film than most of his contemporaries in the theatre world. He made films as a director and from time to time also as a producer. His first staging was the film Sumurûn (1910). After that, Reinhardt founded his own film company.

He sold the film rights for the film adaptation of the play Das Mirakel/The Miracle to Joseph Menchen, whose full-colour film, The Miracle (1912), gained worldwide success. Controversies around the staging of Das Mirakel, which was shown in the Vienna Rotunde in 1912, led to Reinhardt's retreat from the project. The author of the play, Reinhardt's friend and confidant Karl Gustav Vollmoeller, had French director Michel Carré finish the shooting.

Reinhardt made two films, Die Insel der Seligen/Isle of the Blessed (1913) and Eine venezianische Nacht/Venetian Nights (1914), under a four-picture contract for the German film producer Paul Davidson. Both films demanded much of cameraman Karl Freund because of Reinhardt's special shooting needs, such as filming a lagoon in the moonlight.

Die Insel der Seligen/Isle of the Blessed attracted attention due to its erotic nature. Its ancient mythical setting included sea gods, nymphs, and fauns, and the actors appeared naked. However, the film also fit in with the strict customs of the late German and Austrian empires. The actors had to live up to the demands of double roles. Wilhelm Diegelmann and Willy Prager played the bourgeois fathers as well as the sea gods, Ernst Matray a bachelor and a faun, Leopoldine Konstantin the Circe.

The shooting for Eine venezianische Nacht/Venetian Nights by Karl Gustav Vollmoeller took place in Venice. Maria Carmi played the bride, Alfred Abel the young stranger, and Ernst Matray Anselmus and Pipistrello. The shooting was disturbed by a fanatic who incited the attendant Venetians against the German-speaking staff. Both films received negative reviews from the press and the public. The other two films called for in the contract were never made.

At the end of August 1934, Max Reinhardt traveled to the US for the first time since the 1920s and in 1935 he began the process of gaining American citizenship in Los Angeles – where his two sons Wolfgang and Gottfried Reinhardt, lived with their mother, his first wife, actress Else Heims. After many difficulties gaining divorces for the two of them, he was finally able to marry his long-term lover and partner the actress Helene Thimig in Reno, Nevada, in June 1935.

In 1935, Reinhardt directed his first film in Hollywood, a film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. He used a cast that included James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Joe E. Brown, and Olivia de Havilland. Mickey Rooney and Olivia de Havilland had also appeared in Reinhardt's 1934 stage production, which was staged at the Hollywood Bowl. The Nazis banned the film because of the Jewish ancestry of both Reinhardt and Felix Mendelssohn, whose music (arranged by Erich Wolfgang Korngold) was used throughout the film.

William McPeak at IMDb: "Shakespeare's lines were cut for public consumption, but there was so much to see - who would notice. In Depression-era America, the movie theater had taken the place of Reinhardt's all-encompassing theater as a haven - and that was certainly fine with him. And here was a feast for starving souls. Reinhardt's multi-faceted approach to theater shone in all its entertaining best-through Warner stage design efficiency. There was the realist extravagance in forested backdrops, but the wonderful ballet of the coming of night with dancer Nini Theilade was distilled expressionism. Other ballet sequences featuring the fairies-children and adults - were choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska (the great Nijinsky's sister). Reinhardt conjured all his and the camera's magic to create the summation of a lifetime of stagecraft."

After the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi-governed Germany in 1938, he emigrated first to Britain, then to the United States. Reinhardt opened the Reinhardt School of the Theatre in Hollywood, on Sunset Boulevard. Several notable stars of the day received classical theatre training, among them actress Nanette Fabray. In 1940, he became a naturalised citizen of the United States. At that time, he was married to his second wife, actress Helene Thimig, daughter of actor Hugo Thimig. His staging of 'Everyman' in modern dress was followed by an unrealised plan for an all-black production of it. The final years of his life were filled with lesser fortunes and poor health, and he died speechless. Max Reinhardt died of a stroke in New York City in 1943 and is interred at Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York. He was 70 years old.

Max Reinhardt had inspired a whole generation of theatre and film directors including F.W. Murnau, Paul Leni, Ernst Lubitsch, William Dieterle, and Otto Preminger. They spread his word to the rest of the world. Reinhardt's papers and literary estate are housed at Binghamton University (SUNY), in the Max Reinhardt Archives and Library. His sons by first wife Else Heims (m. 1910–1935), Wolfgang and Gottfried Reinhardt, were well-regarded film producers. One of his grandsons (by adoption), Stephen Reinhardt, was a labor lawyer who served notably on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from his appointment by Jimmy Carter in 1980 until his death in 2018. Another grandson, Michael Reinhardt, is a successful fashion photographer. In 2015 his granddaughter Jelena Ulrike Reinhardt was appointed as researcher at the University of Perugia in German literature.

Martin Harvey in Oedipus Rex
British postcard. Rotary Photo, E.C., No. 4229 R. Camera study by Arbuthnot & Hoppe. Martin Harvey as Oedipus in Oedipus Rex staged in Covent Garden, London, and opening January 1912. It was produced by Max Reinhardt and based on an adaptation of Sophocles' play by Gilbert Murray. Previously, Reinhardt had already staged a - successful - German version by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, opening in Vienna in 1910. Writer W.B. Yeats saw the London production and called it the most imaginative production of a play he ever saw.

Maria Carmi
British postcard by Rotary Photo, no. 7701 C. Photo: Hoppe, London. Publicity still of the London stage production of 'Das Mirakel' (The Miracle) (1912) by Max Reinhardt with Maria Carmi as the Madonna. Here she has just cured the lame.

Alexander Moissi in Jedermann
Austrian postcard by Traub, Salzburg. Photo: Atelier K. Hintner. Alexander Moissi as Jedermann in the stage production Jedermann (Everyman) at the Salzburger Festspiele. Max Reinhardt directed Moissi in this production in 1919 and 1920 and from 1926 till 1931.

Alexander Moissi in Jedermann
Austrian postcard by Traub, Salzburg. Photo: Ernst Maier (Atelier K. Hintner). Alexander Moissi as Jedermann in the stage production Jedermann (Everyman) at the Salzburger Festspiele. Max Reinhardt directed Moissi in this production in 1919 and 1920 and from 1926 till 1931. Caption: Everyman in front of the cathedral.

Helene Thimig in Faust (1920)
German postcard by Verlag Herm. Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 8747. Photo: Becker & Maass. Helene Thimig as Gretchen in Reinhardt's stage production of Goethe's Faust (1920).

Bruno Decarli as Robespierre in Dantons Tod
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin, no. 9143. Photo: Fritz Richard. Bruno Decarli as Robespierre in the play 'Dantons Tod' (Danton's Death) by Georg Büchner.

Maria Orska in Erdgeist (1916)
German postcard by Verlag Hermann Leiser, Berlin-Wilm., no. 9696. Photo: Rembrandt Arelier. Maria Orska in her role as Lulu in the stage play Erdgeist (Earth Spirit) by Franz Wedekind directed in 1916 by Max Reinhardt.

Max Pallenberg in Turandot
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 633. Photo: Laszlo Willinger. Under the direction of Max Reinhardt, Max Pallenberg played Traffaldino in 'Turandot' (1926) by Giacomo Puccini at the Salzburger Festspiele.

Paul Hartmann and Rosamond Pinchot in Ein Sommernachtstraum
German postcard by Wellington. Photo: Eilinger, Salzburg. Rosamond Pinchot as Hippolyta and Paul Hartmann as Theseus in 'Ein Sommernachtstraum' (A Midsummernight's Dream) by William Shakespeare. This photo was taken for the stage production at the Salzburger Festspiele in 1927, directed by Max Reinhardt.

Ewald Balser as Faust
Vintage postcard by L&O, no. 65359. Photo: Ellinger. Ewald Balser as Faust in the stage play 'Faust' (1937) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe directed by Max Reinhardt at the Salzburger Festspiele.

Sources: Hovahnness Israel Pilikian (Encyclopaedia Britannica), William McPeak (IMDb), Salzburg Stumbling Blocks, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

22 January 2022

The Early Silent Comedians: France

This month, EFSP presents three posts by Ivo Blom on early comedy in three countries. Last week we had a post on Italian comedians, and next week we'll host the American silent comedians. But today, we'll focus on France which produced the first major comedy star,  André Deed, but also the diminutive Little Moritz, the stout Rosalie (Sarah Duhamel), and of course Max Linder.

André Deed in Boireau à l'école (1912)
French postcard by Sadag de France, Imp., Paris, no. 40. Photo: Pathé Frères. André Deed in Boireau à l'école/Boireau at school (André Deed, 1912).

André Deed (1879-1940) was one the most popular comedians in French and Italian silent cinema under the names of Boireau and Cretinetti. In 1901 he did his first steps in the film world in supporting roles, working for film pioneer Georges Méliès. In 1906 he started his own series of short comedies at Pathé Frères, around a comic character designed by himself: Boireau, a small grotesque figure, grinning demonically. The characteristic form of his films cast him in some metier - boxer, gendarme, or concierge - which would permit him to precipitate an orgy of chaos or destruction. Between 1906 and 1908 he made some 27 films for Pathé, directed by pioneer filmmakers like Georges Hathot and Georges Monca, though of several films no director is known. Later, after a career at Italia, he returned to Pathé in 1912-1913.

Max et sa belle-mère (Pathé, 1911)
Large-format vintage collectors card from an album of Pathé Frères films with publicity stills, dating 1911. Photo: Pathé. Max Linder and Paquerette or Olga Demidoff as the mother-in-law in Max et sa belle-mère/Max and His Mother-In-Law (Max Linder, 1911). The man in the back is Jacques Vandenne and the young woman right of Linder may be Paulette Lorsy, playing his wife.

French comedian Max Linder (1883-1925), with his trademark silk hat, stick and moustache was an influential pioneer of silent film. In 1909, when André Deed was lured away from Pathé by Itala, Pathé found an instant replacement in Max Linder. While Deed was grotesque and absurd, Max was handsome, neat, and elegant. The essence of his comedy was the contrast between this impeccable man-about-town and the grotesque incidents which befell him. Linder became largely responsible for the creation of the classic style of silent slapstick comedy and he was the highest-paid entertainer of his day.

Rigadin veut se faire arrêter (Pathé, 1911)
Large-format vintage collectors card from an album of Pathé Frères films with publicity stills, dating 1911. Photo: S.C.A.G.L. / Pathé. Charles Prince in Rigadin veut se faire arrêter/Rigadin wants to be arrested (Georges Monca, 1911). Scripted by Gabriel Timmory, the film was based on Lapurée veut se faire arrêter/Hard to Get Arrested (N.N., 1908), in which a tramp eats without paying thus hoping to get food and lodging at the police station. Yet, he manages to get away with it. When he suddenly gets money and orders a huge meal, the restaurant owner warns the police, and our poor bum is arrested after all.

Another Pathé star, moon-faced Charles Prince (1872-1933), aka just ‘Prince’, was a comic actor rather than a clown. He was famous for his countless comical shorts with his alter ego Rigadin. Tramps and hobos figured large in the popular imagination at the turn of the 20th Century. These familiar real-life figures combined the potent appeal of romance, menace, and pathos.

Le bateau de Léontine (1911)
Large-format vintage collectors card from an album of Pathé Frères films with publicity stills, dating 1911. Photo: Pathé Frères. Publicity still for Le bateau de Léontine/Betty's Boat (N.N., 1911). It is still unclear who the actress is who played in the typical nasty lady series of Léontine, a girl always into terrible mischief.

Léontine has received for her party a superb three-master. She has promised her parents to be very good in their absence, but she cannot resist the temptation to have her boat sailing. She turns the kitchen faucets wide-open, so the room serves as a pool to her exploits. Soon the ship is sailing in the 'open sea', but Titine is still dissatisfied. However, the water, crossing the floor, flows in large streams onto the lower floors, drowning the tenants, and transforming the stairs into impassable torrents. Titine, unsuspecting of the dramas that take place below her, quietly floats in a barrel amidst the disaster.

Rosalie veut en finir avec la vie (1911)
Large format vintage collectors card from an album of Pathé Frères films with publicity stills, dating 1911. Photo: Pathé Frères / Comica. Sarah Duhamel as Rosalie in Rosalie veut en finir avec la vie/Rosalie wants to end her life (Romeo Bosetti, 1911).

Rosalie is fired, so she wants to commit suicide. She shoots herself with a revolver but only destroys the mirror. She throws herself on the tramway rails, but, alas, this one takes another track. She throws herself from a parapet but in vain. Desperate, she goes into a gunshop, throws a bomb, and mounts to heaven but is only to cause her to descend again. She falls in the arms of a well-mustached police officer, so Rosalie gets lust for life again.

Léocadie veut se faire mannequin (1911)
Large format vintage collectors card from an album of Pathé Frères films with publicity stills, dating 1911. Photo: S.C.A.G.L. / Pathé. Mistinguett and Juliette Clarens in Léocadie veut se faire mannequin/Leocadia Wishes to Be Fashion-model (Frédéric Mauzens (unconfirmed), 1911).

Uncle Dufond wants to marry his nephew Onésime to a charming widow, Boxing Clorinde. But Onésime, prey to a fatal love, formally repels the offer of his uncle who threatens to cut off his food and ruthlessly chases away his girlfriend, the young Léocadie. She soon finds a job as a model and has just started in her new job, when the boy of her janitor comes to warn that Onésime is drowning in his tub, out of despair. Listening only to her heart, Leocadie flies to his aid without worrying about the elegant dress she wears, which is precisely the one the rich Boxing Clorinde has selected. The fashion designer, the client, and the model are all at Léocadie's, where Onésime, recalled to life by their good care, escapes only with difficulty to the fury of the two rivals. In the end, Léocadie, who triumphs as mistress of the battlefield, chases the uncle and his dangerous protegee.

Mistinguett in Léocadie veut se faire mannequin (1911)
Large format vintage collectors card from an album of Pathé Frères films with publicity stills, dating 1911. Photo: S.C.A.G.L. / Pathé. Mistinguett and Juliette Clarens in Léocadie veut se faire mannequin/Leocadia Wishes to Be Fashion-model (Frédéric Mauzens (unconfirmed), 1911).

Madeleine Guitty in Le Pot de confitures (1911)
Large-format vintage collectors card from an album of Pathé Frères films with publicity stills, dating 1911. Photo: S.C.A.G.L. Madeleine Guitty in Le Pot de confitures/The Jam Jar (Georges Denola, 1911).

French actress Madeleine Guitty (1870-1936) began her artistic career in the theatre and appeared in more than 80 films from 1909 to 1936. It was Louis Feuillade who discovered her and had her make several short films. Among her favourite roles: maids, cooks, fishmongers, and fairground owners. She made her mark in 1922 in Henri Desfontaines' La Fille des chiffonniers.

Andrée Marly in Deux vieux garcons (1911)
Large-format vintage collectors card from an album of Pathé Frères films with publicity stills, dating 1911. Photo: S.C.A.G.L. Andrée Marly in Deux vieux garçons/Two old boys (Michel Carré, 1911). Marly is kneeling in the middle. Her lover is played by Charles Maudru. The two old men, courting young Katje in vain, and finally giving in, are Louis Baron fils and Georges Coquet. The woman in the back is Marie Ernestine Desclauzas. In real life, Marly was married to Coquet. The setting and costumes in this film refer to the popular Dutch village of Volendam.

Gabrielle Lange
French postcard by Editions Pathé Frères. Collection: Marlene Pilaete.

Before she passed away in 1914, French Gabrielle Lange was a very popular actress in countless short comedies by Pathé Frères. She often played opposite Max Linder and Charles Prince.

Little Moritz
French postcard by Edition Pathé Frères.

Maurice Schwartz (1890-1960) was an international popular Pathé comedian in 1910-1912, known as Little Moritz. He came from the German music hall and worked for Pathé's Comica studio in Nice, where Romeo Bosetti directed some 30 comedies with Little Moritz. Sarah Duhamel was often his partner as 'Rosalie'. He is not to be confused with Yiddish actor Maurice Schwartz, according to the site Nitrateville. Fondation Seydoux-Pathé lists 30 titles with Schwartz between November 1910 and December 1912, while the first Little Moritz comedies started in September 1911.

Paul Bertho
Spanish collectors card by Amatller Marca Luna, series 1, no. 18.

In 1908 Paul Bertho (?-?) debuted in the Pathé comedy Calino a mangé du cheval/Result of Eating Horse Flesh (Romeo Bosetti, 1908), but then shifted to the company Lux, where he would become famous as the character Patouillard, known in the US as Bill. Bosetti continued to direct him in some 70 Patouillard comedies at Lux in 1910-1912. In 1910, Bertho briefly played the comic character of Cri-Cri at Eclipse, while in 1911 he did a handful of Calino comedies at Pathé. In 1912 Bosetti and Bertho moved to Eclair, where they created the character of Gavroche in some 50 comedies in 1912-1914. In some, Gavroche was united with Casimir (Lucien Bataille), in others with Pétronille (Sarah Duhamel). In 1914 Bertho also did a handful of Patouillard comedies again, directed by Bosetti. After 1914 Berto's career halted, apart from one Bosetti comedy, Patouillard et Lulu/Patouillard and Lulu (Romeo Bosetti, 1916).

Casimir (Lucien Bataille)
French postcard. Photo: Cinéma Eclair. Signed 'Kasimir'.

Casimir or Lucien Bataille (1877-1953) was one of the most popular comic characters at the French company Eclair in the early 1910s. He would often act together with Sarah Duhamel as Pétronille. Lucien Bataille played the comic characters of Zigoto and Casimir, under the direction of mostly Jean Durand and Roméo Bosetti. In 1911 Bataille started as the character Zigoto at the Gaumont film company, probably first in Zigoto et l'affaire du collier/Zigoto and the Affair of the Necklace (Jean Durand, 1911). After 30 short comedies as Zigoto in 1911-1912, Bataille moved to the company Eclair. There he continued his career as a comedian with the character Casimir. Between 1913 and 1916 he acted in some 30 Casimir comedies, often paired with Sarah Duhamel as Pétronille.

Louis-Jacques Boucot
French postcard in the Nos artistes dans leur loge series, no. 121. Photo: Comoedia, Paris.

French stage and screen actor Louis-Jacques Boucot aka Boucot (1882-1949) was well-known for his comic characters of Pénard and Babylas. Just like the more famous Dranem, Boucot was known for his vivacity and grimaces. Boucot started acting at Pathé Frères in 1910, first in Une petite femme bien douce/A sweet little woman (Georges Denola, 1910), scripted and performed by Mistinguett. By 1911 he had his own comedies such as Ami trop entreprenant/Over-enterprising friend (1911) and La dame de compagnie/The lady-in-waiting (1911), while in the same year he also developed the popular comic character of Babylas in various shorts directed by Alfred Machin in 1911-1912. Sometimes, Machin's pet panther Mimir acted in these films too, such as Babylas vient d'hériter d'une panthère/Babylas has just inherited a panther (1911). In 1912 Boucot also developed another character, Pénard, with whom he made even more short comedies (16 films in 1912-13), all for Pathé. During the First World War, Boucot was only visible in one Babylas comedy, Babylas marraine/Babylas godmother (1917). After the war, he acted in only one film in the 1920s, La première idylle de Boucot/Boucot's first romance (Robert Saidreau, 1920). He returned to the screen when the sound film had set in.

Bébé
Spanish postcard in the Series Principales Artistas Cinematograficos, serie 1a, no. 29, by Chocolate Amattler Marca Luna.

Clément Mary (1905-1974) was Bébé the best-known child actor of the early 1910s. In 1910, director Louis Feuillade tested him and designed a whole series around him, the Bébé series. All in all, Mary would play in 74 Bébé comedies between 1910 and 1912. He would later act in French sound films as René Dary.

Suzanne Grandais
Vintage postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Suzanne Grandais (1893-1920) is one of our favorite film stars. She was the most beautiful and sophisticated actress in the French silent cinema. Her nickname was 'the French Mary Pickford' because of her angel face. From 1911 till 1913, Grandais made some 45 films for Gaumont, mostly short comedies and dramas. Grandais often played Léonce Perret's wife or temptress in the Léonce series, elegant comedies starring and directed by Perret.

Dranem
French postcard by A.N., Paris / R.P.I., no. 251. Photo: Paul Darby. Caption: IV. En fait d'ortograph! graph!

Dranem (1869-1935) was a French comic singer, music hall, stage, and film actor. Around 1900 he acted in many shorts by Pathé while he also performed in a large series of 'phonoscènes' by Gaumont, directed by Alice Guy in 1905. Other early films include Les souliers de Dranem/Dranem's shoes (Ferdinand Zecca, 1908), Dranem fait ressemeler ses ribouis/Dranem has his old shoes resealed (?, 1910), Le mariage de Dranem/Dranem's wedding (Ferdinand Zecca, 1912) and Dranem sténo-dactyle/Shorthand Typist Dranem (?, 1912), and the Molière adaptation Le médecin malgré lui/The doctor in spite of himself (?, 1913).

Georges Biscot
French postcard in the Nos artistes dans leur loge series by Editions La Fayette, no. 270.

Georges Biscot (1886-1945) was a popular French music hall and revue singer and actor, who also knew a career in French silent and sound film. Biscot debuted on the silver screen in 1913 in filmed songs, produced by Georges Lordier. Soon he became a star of the music-hall of the Folies-Bergères, in particular when acting in 'La revue galante' (1914) next to Musidora, then in 'À la parisienne' (1916) where he did an imitation of Chaplin. In the same year, he returned to film in the crime serial parody Le pied qui étreint/The Clutching Foot (1916) by Jacques Feyder. Impressed by his comic talent, Feyder recommended Biscot to Louis Feuillade, who used him in the serials Vendémiaire (Louis Feuillade, 1918) with René Cresté, and Tih Minh/In the Clutches of the Hindu (Louis Feuillade, 1918) with Mary Harald, succeeding Marcel Lévesque in the parts of jocular characters. Subsequently, Biscot had notable comic parts in the serials Barrabas (Louis Feuillade, 1919) with Blanche Montel, and Les deux gamines/The Two Girls (Louis Feuillade, 1921) with Sandra Milovanoff.

Marcel Levesque Filma
French postcard in the Les Vedettes du Cinéma series by Editions Filma, no. 53. Photo: Films Pathé.

Marcel Lévesque (1877-1962) was a French actor and scriptwriter who excelled in French silent and sound comedies but also played memorable parts in the crime serials by Feuillade and in Jean Renoir’s Le crime de M. Lange (1936). In 1913, he joined Gaumont where he met actor-director Léonce Perret for whom he wrote La belle-mère/The Stepmother (1913) with Suzanne Le Bret, followed by Léonce et Poupette (1913), which he scripted as well and in which he played Léonce’s manservant. He followed this with the lead in L’illustre Mâchefer/The Illustrious Clinker (1913), directed by Louis Feuillade, who would become his regular director between 1913 and 1918 and which whom he acted in almost 30 films plus some serials. Feuillade would have him play countless witty characters in the comedy series La vie drôle/Funny Life. Meanwhile, Marcel Lévesque had tried his luck at film direction at Gaumont with La pintade et le dindon/Guinea pig and fowl (1915) with Madeleine Guitty as his partner.

Sources: Richard Abel (Encyclopedia of Early Cinema), Fondation Seydoux-Pathé, Wikipedia (French), and IMDb.