This is the story of a great musician who tries out a popular ragtime classic with such telling effect that he nearly puts the entire neighborhood out of commission. Businessmen, laborers, ... See full summary »

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The Banker
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The Cook
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The Pianist
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Mathilde Baring ...
The Milliner
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This is the story of a great musician who tries out a popular ragtime classic with such telling effect that he nearly puts the entire neighborhood out of commission. Businessmen, laborers, pretty girls, domestics, tradesmen fall victims to the magic power of the melody with a droll effect which will almost take your audiences off their feet! Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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Comedy | Short

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18 April 1912 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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They could have danced all night
18 October 2016 | by (France) – See all my reviews

This is a very standard French vaudeville gag but would not necessarily have been familiar to US audiences. Feuillade's La Bous-bous-mie (1909) for Gaumont does have similarities (although "the servants at play" belongs to a slightly different genre) but there had also been the earlier Gaumont film, Le piano irresistible (1907), also about a musician who has just moved in, and then Pathé's La Valse à la mode in 1908 featuring a young and very lanky Maurice Chevalier (often high on cocaine in those days). The version of the latter available on the internet is silent but the Pathé catalogue is quite specific about the music involved and it should have The Merry Widow as accompaniment.

Here Chautard has virtually just americanised the story, replacing "waltz" by "ragtime" and "The Merry Widow" by Alexander's Ragtime Band" in the first part. Again the music to be used for accompaniment is made quite specific by showing the sheet-music on the piano. For the second part he reverts to a waltz (not specified although I suspect the title was originally visible). It is a pleasant little gag - essentially timeless - that, suitably accompanied, was sure to play well in a cinema.

The general idea of "irresistible dancing" is re-used beautifully by Max Linder in one of the finest scenes in his US film, Seven Years' Bad Luck. To work well the gag really needs the central character to be "hyper", which was very much the case with both Chevalier (the cocaine would have helped) and with Linder whose "Max" (seemingly so suave and respectable and totally different from "Charlot") is always close to the edge.


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