Two waiters, vain of their personal appearance, have their photographs taken by an itinerant photographer. The boss catches them and "Fired!" is the result. One of them hits upon a scheme ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Dell Henderson ...
The Baron / A Waiter
...
The Heiress
Joseph Graybill ...
The Baron's Friend
Grace Henderson ...
Mother
Fred Mace ...
Boarding House Dupe
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kate Bruce ...
Woman at License Bureau
William J. Butler ...
License Bureau Worker
Alfred Paget ...
Boarding House Lodger
Kate Toncray
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Storyline

Two waiters, vain of their personal appearance, have their photographs taken by an itinerant photographer. The boss catches them and "Fired!" is the result. One of them hits upon a scheme to get easy money by posing as a baron. Things are coming his way, when he is met by his erstwhile friend, who gives the snap away. However, he would have succeeded in marrying an heiress, but for a mix-up at the license bureau, giving him a dog's license instead of a marriage license. Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Comedy | Short

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31 August 1911 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El barĂ³n  »

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1.33 : 1
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Released as a split reel along with the comedy The Villain Foiled (1911). See more »

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User Reviews

 
Or, the Cunning Waiter and His Audacious Scheme
18 April 2015 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

This short comedy was a product of the Biograph Studio, but in hindsight it could be called a prototype of what would become the Keystone style. Mack Sennett, who had joined Biograph as an actor, was by 1911 in charge of his own unit there, directing short comedies under the tutelage of mentor D.W. Griffith. Two performers who appear in 'The Baron,' Fred Mace and Mabel Normand, would leave Biograph with Sennett the following year and become core members of his new company. Meanwhile, the director and his team were formulating the comic technique that would become so widely influential, as well as internationally popular.

'The Baron' is no great shakes, but it serves as a dry run of sorts for a basic premise that would be reworked many times at Keystone (and elsewhere) in the years to come: this is the tale of a lowly character who dresses up, assumes a high-born persona, and cons people into believing he's a dignitary. Biograph mainstay Dell Henderson stars as a waiter who poses as a titled aristocrat, purely for fiscal gain. In this guise, he convinces his fellow lodgers at a boarding house to loan him large sums of money. Then, setting his sights higher, he arranges a marriage with a beautiful young heiress (Mabel Normand), whose mother is completely fooled by his line of blarney. In the end, the bogus baron's scheme is foiled when one of his fellow waiters from earlier days shows up, and reveals the truth.

Henderson is very much the star of this show. In the film's funniest bit, he repeatedly fools his victims by displaying, as a title card phrases it: "My castle—my father—my trophies of honor." So saying, he indicates a generic picture of a castle, a portrait of an distinguished-looking aristocrat, and then holds out a box full of (obviously fake) medals. Amusingly, he illustrates his alleged military record by briefly "fencing" with his cane. The ploy works every time. Fred Mace is the central figure among the boarding house dupes, while Miss Normand is the unhappy would-be bride, plainly miserable at the thought of being married off to this man, whether he's a genuine baron or not.

While 'The Baron' isn't especially memorable on its own terms alone, it's more interesting when considered alongside comedies using the same theme made just few years later, such as Sennett's 1914 short Caught in a Cabaret. That film, which is still enjoyable today, features the whole Keystone ensemble at their rowdy best. It was directed by Mabel Normand herself, who also has a much meatier role in the proceedings. And playing bogus dignitary we find a newcomer to the screen, Charlie Chaplin. In only three years—three years of hard work, steady improvement, and a few exceptionally good hires—comedy producer Mack Sennett advanced from the simple archetype of 'The Baron' to prime Keystone!


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