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 »
A gardener is watering his flowers, when a mischievous boy sneaks up behind his back, and puts a foot on the water hose. The gardener is surprised, and looks into the nozzle to find out why... See full summary »
A man opens the big gates to the Lumière factory. Through the gateway and a smaller doorway beside it, workers are streaming out, turning either left or right. Most of them are women in ... 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 »
We see a working dog, a beggar's dog, a shepherd's dog, and a milkman's dog. The working dog is locked inside a large wire wheel; the dog runs inside the wheel, turning it to run a machine.... See full summary »
Footage shot not long after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco is edited together so that more than one scene and more than one vantage are included. We see fire raging. We see burned-out... See full summary »
Mr. Cody arrives by carriage, walks to a barn, and slides open the doors to reveal a large biplane. He pulls it out of the hanger. One man checks the engine while another starts the ... 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
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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