The classic Keystone image, of the incompetent Kops, in hot pursuit of some villain on their breakaway wagons, waving their billy clubs futilely in the air..... where did it come from? Well, before Sennett made them his own, they were all over the place and while every nation produced a goodly number of rough slapstick comedies -- there are several variations on The Miller and the Chimney Sweep pelting each other with flour and soot from America and the U.K. -- the French and the Italians excelled in them for several years. And here we probably have the origin of the Keystone Kops, sixteen years before Sennet produced THE BANGVILLE POLICE.
It's only a touch over a minute in length and, as the flic is caught among the roof tiles, he gestures most theatrically. I don't doubt it was derived from some theatrical piece and it remains a purely theatrical piece, not the least cinematic. It's not among the best of Melies' pieces, even from this period. But it well may be the first of its kind.
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