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The Policemen's Little Run (1907)
"La course des sergents de ville" (original title)

6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 431 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 1 critic

A policeman spots a dog stealing a piece of meat from a butcher's shop, and gives chase. Soon several more policemen have joined the pursuit. But the chase does not turn out as the policemen expect.

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Title: The Policemen's Little Run (1907)

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A squat, muscular dog steals a leg of lamb or mutton from a butcher shop, and the local constabulary, armed with truncheons, gives chase. Man's best friend, keeping a firm-jowled grip on the meat, leads the town's finest down streets, across boulevards, through a cellar and up the side of the building to a steep roof, then down again, and to his doghouse. The cops gingerly surround the place, then out bursts the canine and chases the entire force back to their station. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Genres:

Comedy | Short

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9 February 1907 (USA)  »

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The Policemen's Little Run  »

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1.33 : 1
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Edited into Landmarks of Early Film (1997) See more »

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The "trick film" meets the slapstick chase
9 August 2002 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

For much of the way this little chase film looks like a dress rehearsal for the later Keystone comedies, as goofy French cops chase a dog through the streets of Paris. The dog has stolen a leg of mutton from a butcher shop, and we're amused to observe that these gendarmes have nothing better to do than to spend the day chasing him. Paris certainly looks like a sleepy place, here! Typically for movies of this era, most of the scenes were filmed on location in public areas, and in some shots we can see passersby in the background stopping to watch the action. But after two or three minutes of this, something interesting happens when the dog approaches one particular building: the filmmakers switch to a painted set, meant to represent that same building, and the dog appears to accomplish the impossible, running up the side of the structure as naturally as he does everything else. And then, without so much as a pause to react, the cops follow the dog's lead and scale the building themselves.

To our eyes, trained by viewing decades' worth of ever-improving special effects, the sight of the dog and the cops scaling the building is startling for a split second, then funny. We quickly realize that a painted backdrop has been laid flat on the floor of a studio, and the dog and the cops have simply been filmed clambering across it from overhead. Nevertheless, even today, seeing these shots spliced into the middle of otherwise ordinary chase footage surprises us. Audiences of 1907 must have burst into shocked laughter at the sight. Film textbooks and documentaries give much of the credit for this sort of comedy to the Keystone/Sennett crew of the 1910s and '20s, but it would appear that the pioneering filmmakers at Pathé who produced La Course Des Sergents De Ville (also known as "The Policemen's Little Run"), and many other similar films, got there first. This charming film retains its power to beguile and entertain, and it also preserves fascinating scenes of the Paris of 1907, before world wars and other plagues of the Twentieth Century changed the city forever.


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