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The Max Linder Collection (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

May 31, 2014 by  



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I’m quite thrilled that Kino Classics has brought “The Max Linder Collection” to North America and their dedication towards silent cinema in bringing films of well-known names of yesteryear for today’s silent film fans continues. “The Max Linder Collection” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Kino Lorber.  All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: The Max Linder Collection

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: The Three Must-Get-Theres (1922), Be My Wife (1921), Seven Years Bad Luck (1921), Max Wants a Divorce (1917)

DURATION: The Three Must-Get-Theres (57 Minutes), Be My Wife (57 Minutes), Seven Years Bad Luck (64 Minutes), Max Wants a Divorce (27 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: B&W and color tinted, English Intertitles, Music by Maud Nilessen, Eric Le Guen, Robert Israel and Donald Sosin

COMPANY: Kino Lorber, Lobster

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: May 27, 2014

Three Must-Get-Theres

Directed by Max Linder

Based on the novel “Les Trois Mousquetaures” by Alexandre Dumas Pere

Cinematographer by Max Dupont, Enrique Juan Vallejo

Be My Wife

Written and Directed by Max Linder

Produced by Max Linder

Cinematography by Charles Van Enger

Seven Years Bad Luck

Max Linder as Max

Alta Allen as Betty – His Valet

Betty K. Peterson as Mary – His Maid

F.B. Crayne as His False Friend

Chance Ward – The Railroad Conductor

Hugh Saxton as the Station Master

Thelma Percy as Station Master’s Daughter

C.E. Anderson as a Jail Bird

Max Wants a Divorce

Written and Directed by Max Linder

Assistant Director: Leo White

Starring:

Three Must-Get-Theres

Max Linder as Dart-in-Again

Bull Montana as Li’l Cardinal Richie-Loo

Frank Cooke as King Louis XIII

Caroline Rankin as Queen Anne

Jobyna Ralston as Constance Bonne-aux-Fieux

Be My Wife

Max Linder as Max, the Fiance

Alta Allen as Mary, the Girl

Caroline Rankin as Aunt Agatha

Lincoln Stedman as Archie

Rose Dione as Madame Coralie

Charles McHugh as Mr. Madame Coralie

Viora Daniel as Mrs. Du Pont

Arthur Clayton as Mr. Du Pont

Seven Years Bad Luck

Max Linder as Max, the Fiance

Max Wants a Divorce

Max Linder as Max

Martha Mansfield as Max’s Wife

Helen Ferguson

Francine Larrimore

Ernest Maupain

Kino Classics and Lobster Films celebrate the legacy of Max Linder , a pioneer of slapstick whom Charlie Chaplin referred to as “the great master.” With his trademark silk top hat and cane, the French-born Linder blended slapstick with sophistication, and invested his films with a layer of cleverness that elevated them above mere knockabout comedies, paving the way for such multi-dimensional screen comedians as Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd.  The collection includes three films: THE THREE MUST-GET-THERES (1922), SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK (1921), and BE MY WIFE (1921), plus a bonus short.

When it comes to silent comedy, typically people are familiar with names such as Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Fatty Arbuckle, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.  But there are many names that are not as well-known to modern society such as Charley Chase, Harry Langston, Ben Turpin, Musty Suffer, to name a few.

But there was one man from France who captivated viewers during those silent years and his name was Max Linder.

Known for his suave and dapper style, often wearing a hat and a suit and always charming the women around him.

In fact, no matter where he traveled around the world, he was mobbed by his female fans and was literally the first International movie star.

He directed wrote and directed his own films, was one of the most financially successful comedians during the silent era (making 1 million Francs back in 1912), the man responsible for introducing future star Maurice Chevalier and is known for inspiring Charlie Chaplin.

Unfortunately, like other silent film stars who were not able to transcend from the silent era to the sound era, Max Linder’s career was hindered due to a German poison gas attack when he was called to serve during World War I.

Despite having opportunities to revive his career in America, because of his ill-health and his fading popularity, Linder was unable to jump start his career and unfortunately lived the remainder of his young life in severe depression.

In 1923, he and his wife made a suicide pact and both were successful in killing themselves in 1925.

For Charlie Chaplin, the death of Max Linder was a blow to him as Chaplin looked up to Linder as mentor.  Chaplin, hearing about Linder’s death, closed down his studio to honor him and in one of his movies, Chaplin wrote the following dedication, “For the unique Max, the great master – his disciple Charles Chaplin”.

Unfortunately, Max Linder has become an unknown to many people who are familiar with Chaplin or Keaton, but before there was the tramp, there was Max.

While Max Linder received a special DVD release back in 2003 courtesy of Image Entertainment titled “Laugh with Max Linder”, the DVD has since gone out of print.  But now, Kino Classics will release “The Max Linder Collection” as part of their “Slapstick Symposium” silent comedy DVD line.

Featured in this DVD set are the following films: “The Three Must-Get-Theres” (1922), “Be My Wife” (1921), “Seven Years Bad Luck” (1921) and “Max Wants a Divorce” (1917).

“The Three Must-Get-Theres” is based on the classic tale of “The Three Musketeers” but in this comedy, Max plays a clumsy man who leaves his rural home and tries to find a job as a musketeer in Paris.  Immediately arriving in town, Max is smitten by Constance Bonne-aux-Fieux (portrayed by Jobyna Ralston), saving her from a man.

Meanwhile, looking for a job as a musketeer, he finds out the local boss they are short of a body, thus missing the discount for burial.  So, wanting to become a big man, Max wants to prove himself as a musketeer and save the day.

In the second film “Be My Wife”, Max does all he can to win the affections of Mary (portrayed by Alta Allen), with the support of her Aunt Agatha (portrayed by Caroline Rankin). But when another man who is in love with Mary tries to convince her that Max is the wrong guy to marry.  But when a drunk Max ends up messing around with two women, Mary wants her revenge.

In the third film “Seven Years Bad Luck”, Max Linder plays the suave character named Max, a wealthy man who gets drunk one night.  Meanwhile, the following morning, while he is sleeping, his valet John (played by Ralph McCullough) and his maid Mary (played by Betty Peterson) are having fun with each other and in the process, accidentally break Max’s mirror.

As John and Mary call the mirror maker to prepare another mirror and have it delivered to Max’s home immediately, the two enlist the chef (played by Harry Mann) to imitate Max’s actions on the mirror and make him think that he is looking at his own reflection.

First Max questions the way he looks in the mirror but John tells him that after a hard night of drinking, their facial features change.  At first Max accepts this answer and as the chef is able to mimic nearly every move that Max is doing, when both bend over and turn around, Max bumps into the chef’s rear end and realizes the prank.

But before he is able to swat his chef on the head with his shoe, he receives a call from his fiance Betty (played by Alta Allen) for him to come over.  But while he is on the phone, the delivery people come by to replace the mirror just in time.

After Max is done with his phone call and gets back to the mirror, he throws his slipper at it expecting to hit the chef but instead, shatters the mirror into pieces.

Unfortunately, because Max is quite a superstitious man, he knows that breaking a mirror will give you seven years of bad luck.

Max is so bothered by this that he can’t ride his car (thinking he will die in an accident), afraid of other transportation as well, but when he meets a fortune teller, she tells him that a dog will interfere with his life.  Meanwhile, Max’s best friend and rival is trying to get close to his fiance Betty but she turns him down.

So, when Max eventually gets to Betty’s home, he notices that her little dog is there and while Betty is out, he tries to put the dog in a flower vase, so the dog doesn’t disturb his time with Betty.

Unfortunately, when Betty comes back and the two discuss their future together, she notices her dog is missing and when Max tries to hide it, the dog is all wet and immediately, Betty thinks that Max tried to harm her dog and breaks off their engagement.

Feeling that he has seven years of bad luck, Max decides that he needs to leave for awhile and when he goes to travel by train to an unknown destination, he is robbed of his money.  With no money, he does all he can to sneak on the train and by doing so, Max will undergo an exciting adventure as he tries to allude the authorities who are hot on his tail.

For the short, “Max Wants a Divorce”, Max and his wife (portrayed by Martha Mansfield) are happily married.  But not long after he is married, he is contacted that a relative has died and will be leaving him millions of dollars if he is not married and remains a bachelor.

Seeing the potential of being a rich man, he and his wife formulate a plan to get divorce by Max being caught with another woman, so he can get his inheritance.  But when Max eyes start moving towards another woman, his wife tries to disguise herself as a maid to see how far Max would go into “being caught with another woman”.  Will it affect his relationship with his wife?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Max Linder Collection” received the digital remaster treatment courtesy of Lobster Films.  The four films show differences in picture quality, with the “Three Must-Get-There’s” and “Be My Wife” in the best shape, while “Seven Years Bad Luck” is OK and “Max Wants a Divorce” in not the best quality but considering that Max Linder films are hard to come by, the fact that it’s complete, very watchable, I was perfectly fine with it.

For music, “The Three Must-Get-There’s” features a composition and arrangement by Maud Nelissen, “Be My Wife” featuring music by Eric Le Guen, “Seven Years Bad Luck” featuring music compiled by Robert ISrael using authentic period arrangements of silent film music and “Max Wants a Divorce” featuring music by Donald Sosin.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Max Linder Collection”comes with no special features.

With the release of Kino’s “The Max Linder Collection”, finally silent film fans are getting a new DVD release featuring “Seven Years Bad Luck”, the complete “Be My Wife” (which was only offered as an excerpt in the 2003 DVD release “Laugh with Max Linder”) plus “The Three Must-Get-Theres” and “Max Wants a Divorce”.

It is truly a shame that many people have forgotten about Max Linder and his accomplishments in the silent era.

But he was possibly the equivalent to a Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise of the early 1900′s and early teens.  The highest paid actor possibly in the world at that time (1912) and women would literally fall whenever they saw him in public, as he traveled to various countries around the globe and he was the most noticeable star and considering that cinema was just blossoming at the time, he was a man who did it all.   He wrote, directed, produced his own films and he inspired many people including Chaplin.

It’s unfortunate that his career was cut short because of the first World War and from that injury, had to battle ill-health afterward and never really could get back to the limelight even when he was given the opportunity to make things happen in Hollywood.

But despite how tragic his career and life ended, like many other silent film stars, they were unable to cope with their lifestyle change from being a huge star during the silent film era and then losing the fame and money during the talkies.  For Max Linder, he was probably a man that could have transcended to the talkies if he had not battled these health problems but what is important now is that his name and his work be remembered.

While those who previously owned the 2003 DVD release of “Laugh with Max Linder” will enjoy the three additional films that are included on “The Max Linder Collection”, it’s important to note that the two DVD’s are not the same and are very different.  The only similarity is that “Seven Years Bad Luck” are featured on both DVD’s and that is it.  Personally, both are worth owning as the 2003 DVD offered Max’s early short sketches, while this 2014 DVD release featuyres the complete “Be My Wife” which I absolutely enjoyed, the Douglas Fairbanks spoof “The Three Must-Get-Theres” and the short “Max Wants a Divorce”.

So, when it comes to Max Linder releases, there aren’t many out there.  And the other one that is out there and available on Blu-ray is from France titled “Le Cinema de Max Linder” (2012) which features a few of his earlier shorts that fans have wished for a release in North America and the restoration work of his films plus the documentaries and overview by his only child, his daughter Maud Linder.

But as for “The Max Linder Collection”, this DVD alone will show you how talented a performer he was and all four were among the six films he made in the United States, I am not sure if the other two “Max Comes Across” or “Max in a Taxi” is lost but the fact that the four films featured on this DVD were lost and were discovered in Europe, remastered and finally released, shows how scarce his films are and how fortunate we are to finally have the opportunity to watch these Max Linder films today.

I’m quite thrilled that Kino Classics has brought “The Max Linder Collection” to North America and their dedication towards silent cinema in bringing films of well-known names of yesteryear for today’s silent film fans continues.

“The Max Linder Collection” is highly recommended!

 

 

 

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