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A Chess Dispute (1903)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  August 1903 (UK)
6.0
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 350 users  
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A stationary camera looks on as two dapper gents play a game of chess. One drinks and smokes, and when he looks away, his opponent moves two pieces. A fight ensues, first with the squirting... See full summary »

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Storyline

A stationary camera looks on as two dapper gents play a game of chess. One drinks and smokes, and when he looks away, his opponent moves two pieces. A fight ensues, first with the squirting of a seltzer bottle, then with fisticuffs. The combatants wrestle each other to the floor and continue the fight out of the camera's view, hidden by the table. The waiter arrives to haul both of them out. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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chess | See All (1) »

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Short | Comedy

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August 1903 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Clever use of limited audience view to use a device that is commonplace now
2 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I watched this film on a DVD that was rammed with short films from the period. I didn't watch all of them as the main problem with these type of things that their value is more in their historical novelty value rather than entertainment. So to watch them you do need to be put in the correct context so that you can keep this in mind and not watch it with modern eyes. With the Primitives & Pioneers DVD collection though you get nothing to help you out, literally the films are played one after the other (the main menu option is "play all") for several hours. With this it is hard to understand their relevance and as an educational tool it falls down as it leaves the viewer to fend for themselves, which I'm sure is fine for some viewers but certainly not the majority. What it means is that the DVD saves you searching the web for the films individually by putting them all in one place – but that's about it.

Two men play chess and get into an argument that turns into a fight in this film but that is not really what is interesting about it. Essentially it is a physical comedy and it uses the "old" gag where we don't see the fight or the blows as they occur off or almost off camera. What we see is one protagonist or items such as cloths flying into shot as a result of the action we can't see. It is a simple device but cleverly done here long before it became common place to see light entertainers do the same gag on television. It is clever because Paul uses the space out of shot more than he does the shot itself.

It is not mind-blowing perhaps but it is interesting to see a film do this. The others I have seen have been 100% about seeing action on the screen whether it is a car, a snowball fight or a train and to have Paul do the opposite to comedic effect is a nice touch and testament to his imagination and touch for comedy.


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