A conjurer with white beard and turban moves about in front of a building with an elaborate facade. He spies a golden beetle, about the size of a human infant, leaning against the wall. He ... See full summary »
An astronomer of age, wealth, and erudition conducts classes in his home. His students are not always respectful, and he suffers their pranks and high jinks. Then, at noon, everything ... See full summary »
A bearded magician holds up a large playing card and makes it larger. He tears up a card of a queen, burns the torn bits, and a life-size Queen of Hearts card appears; then, it becomes ... See full summary »
A housewife tires of her husband's annoying behavior and returns to her mother. At first, the husband is quite pleased to have the house all to himself. But he quickly discovers that even ... See full summary »
As an older man and a youth are eating at the table, the older man decides to amuse himself by using pepper to make the boy sneeze. Later, the boy retaliates by sneaking into the older ... See full summary »
A combination gambling den and bawdy house is set up so that croupiers, patrons, prostitutes, and the owner can quickly change it all into a mercantile establishment when the cops stage a ... See full summary »
La cella di un condannato a morte. L'uomo sta dormendo e sogna il passato che lo ha portato in prigione : vita frenetica, cattive amicizie, alcolismo, l'assassinio di un cassiere di banca. ... See full summary »
Into a photography studio full of large fantastic machines steps an elderly couple. The bearded proprietor explains the equipment and gives them a demonstration: he starts machines whirring... See full summary »
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
'The Run of the Village Constables' is very funny in its own right, and also historically significant as the earliest known example of the 'chase' comedy, later developed at Mack Sennett's Keystone studio. The fact that the pursuers in this film are small-town constables (anticipating Sennett's Keystone Cops) makes it extremely likely that Sennett, or at least someone in his employ, was directly influenced by this movie. Buster Keaton's short film 'Cops' also appears to have been influenced by this very funny film.
Essentially, 'The Run of the Village Constables' is a Keystone Cops movie, made in France before Mack Sennett's earliest known film credit. Because this is a French movie, instead of the constable helmets worn by Keystone's cops, these French "flics" wear the sort of cylindrical visored cap known as a kepi.
A mongrel dog rushes into a butcher's shop and emerges with a pork chop in his jaws. Two gendarmes, who evidently have run out of murderers and rapists to pursue, rush after the dog. More cops join in. (Must be a slow day for the French crime rate.) There are some interesting exterior shots as the cops chase the dog along a cobblestoned street, across a tram line, and through some obviously staged set-ups (such as through a man's bedroom).
There's a highly imaginative trick shot, in which the cops chase the dog up the side of a building. From our more cinematically sophisticated viewpoint, it's obvious that the wall of the house is really a canvas 'flat' laid out on the studio floor, and the cops and the dog are actually running across a horizontal plane instead of up a vertical one. But for audiences in 1907, this trick shot probably produced a very startling 'How'd they do that?' effect. And it's still funny in its outright audacity.
Eventually the cops chase the dog back into its kennel ... whereupon the dog emerges to chase the gendarmes along a different route (some more interesting exteriors) and back into their own cop-shop. VOICI LE SPOILEUR: The last shot shows the dog gnashing the chop while wearing a policeman's kepi! This shot reminds me of the gag end-title in Keaton's 'Cops': after Buster is pulled into the police station by a hoard of policemen, the end-title shows Keaton's distinctive porkpie hat perched on a gravestone.
Since I've mentioned the Keystone Cops, this is a good place to settle the spelling once for all. The comedy constables at Keystone were Cops, not Kops. I own copies of several Keystone trade adverts and press releases which contain phrases such as 'another Cop comedy', with this word spelt correctly. I challenge anyone to locate the 'Kop' misspelling in any document or film footage issued by Keystone. Mack Sennett was very sensitive about his lack of education; I seriously doubt that he would have sanctioned any deliberate misspelling, for fear he'd be accused that he didn't know the proper spelling.
'The Run of the Village Constables' is an hilarious glimpse of the early French cinema, historically fascinating as well as uproarious. I rate this movie 10 in 10.
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