An elderly gentleman in a silk hat sits on a stool in front of a store on the main street of town. He has a telescope that he focuses on the ankle of a young woman who is a short distance ... See full summary »
The adventures of an inattentive man. He's at his kitchen table, reading. A woman brings his hat and points to the clock. He continues reading and pours coffee into his hat. He leaves, ... See full summary »
Two men work in a large garden, one of them watering with a hose and wearing a boater. A young man in apron and cap sneaks into the scene, hides behind a bush, and kinks the hose. The man ... See full summary »
A thief jumps a fence and removes the shutter from a house. He enters, but a lad who's witnessed the crime runs off to hail the coppers. The first officer on the scene climbs the fence, ... See full summary »
A man opens the big gates to the Lumière factory. Through the gateway and a smaller doorway beside it, workers are streaming out, turning either left or right. Most of them are women in ... See full summary »
Three hunters surprise two poachers in the act. The hunters take umbrage and give chase over fences and through fields. The hunters fire away, but the poachers have guns as well, and a ... See full summary »
Will Haggar Jr.,
Firefighters ring for help, and here comes the ladder cart; they hitch a horse to it. A second horse-drawn truck joins the first, and they head down the street to a house fire. Inside a man... See full summary »
A traveler puts up at an inn. He hangs his overcoat and hat upon a peg in his room, but he finds, instantly, that his clothes are on his back again. He takes off his coat a second time, but... See full summary »
An elderly gentleman in a silk hat sits on a stool in front of a store on the main street of town. He has a telescope that he focuses on the ankle of a young woman who is a short distance away. Her husband catches the gent looking. What will the two men now do? Written by
This comic short has a similar plot to Smith's previous 'Grandma's Reading Glass' - a male protagonist looks at the world through the eyes of an optical instrument. Where the visions of the first film, however, were appropriate to a young boy - curious, novel, fresh, surprising ways of looking at the world as if for the first time (e.g. like the first cinema goers), the development of an individual consciousness as it were - the point of view in this film is typical of an aged lecher, as he gawps at the incipient sexual tease performed by a man and a bicycled woman as he ties up her shoelace, slowly raising her long dress to reveal a titillating glimpse of stockinged leg.
The move here from the encyclopaedic to the sexual and voyeuristic may be symptomatic of the 'wrong' turning taken by cinema, bemoaned by the likes of Godard, away from a curious interest in the world to vulgar, voyeuristic, prurient peepshows. But Smith is no fool, and the clatter the scopophile receives from one of his 'victims' is given to us too - we are no better than this pervert.
The set-up cries out for voyeurism - a distanced shot of an environment offers us a brief glimpse of the couple in the background - the only way we can learn more is with the aid of this man's instrument, significantly more phallic that Grandma's female lens. There is no distortion here, as was the case with the first film, but clarification, a feeling of being close to the action, but apart from it: enjoyment without risk, the dream of every voyeur.
In a sense, this simple plot - voyeur attacked by the man he spies on - foreshadows one of the great masterpieces of cinema and the ultimate analysis of cinematic voyeurism and the invasion of privacy, 'Rear Window'. The man's instrument may be phallic, but it is onanistic and sterile, especially in comparison to the fertile sexual relations presumably to be enjoyed at a later date by the couple. The cinematic gaze is already being made negative, anti-social, hidden, something to be punished, something unhealthy, anti-family, solitary. The watcher must be watched, controlled, as the victim's punitive action suggests.
But it's not that simple. The framing circle of the close-up is linked to the circles of the wheels and pedals of the bicycle, maybe even the circle of life that this courtship intimates, just as Jeff's voyeurism is framed against his reluctance to settle down with his girlfriend. A surprisingly ambiguous, analytical piece of self-reflexive cinema.
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