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I saw a copy of this one-reel Snub Pollard, directed by a young Charley Chase (who would later experiment with some daffy science-fiction premises in his own series of shorts), with Spanish intertitles (called "Dia Vendra" or "The Day Will Come"). Fortunately my Spanish was up to it, and I suspect the Spanish titles, very much in the vein of the film's humor and H. M. Walker's paradoxical wit, are fairly similar to those in the original English version.
Like many a Snub Pollard comedy, "Years to Come" is a complete flight of fancy. In this one, it is the year 2000, and the roles of women and men have been completely reversed. That's where almost all the jokes come from. It wouldn't be at all a politically correct premise today in 2010, and it wouldn't have ten years ago in 2000. Then again, maybe that's because "Years to Come" was right about a few things. In any case, it didn't turn out exactly like this.
As exploiting normative concepts of gender roles for laughs goes, though, this short explores the gag thoroughly -- so we having women complaining about crazy men who don't let their wives drive, being chivalrous and restraining themselves from hitting a man, scolding men for window shopping, &c., while the men gossip about the couple across the street when they should be cooking. The rudimentary cheating-scare plot expects laughs because the woman is flirting heavily with an unwilling man as the wife could come back any time from the club. It seems like the gags almost reinforce the old gender roles while they cause them to be questioned in equal measure.
The real nice thing about this short is how detailed the fantasy is though. It opens with a pretty lavish street scene with everything matching this comedy version of future society. The gag is brought down with detail even down to the costumes, with women's clothes wittily extrapolated from riding costume, and men's clothes derived from the lace jabots and sleeves and frilly shirts of the Restoration which have apparently come back into style. There are some delightful flying taxis (which only charge $1 per hour; if only prices had actually been like that by 2000!) amid the twenties-style cars and occasional horses which still line the streets.
Like most visions of the future and commentaries on the roles of the sexes a few years on (let alone 78 of them), this is a definite period piece. But it's definitely a fascinating period piece, with the usual off-beat creativity that makes Snub Pollard shorts fun, and it might just make you laugh as well.
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