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Detective Coke Ennyday's clock (set on Sleep as we first see him with his head down on his desk) has four settings: Eat-Drink-Sleep & Dope.
When the hands shift to Dope, Ennyday pulls out of Flour Canister, opens it to reveal contents of white powder, grabs a handful and blows it for comedic effect about his face and the room.
As I recall the depiction of opium dens is somewhat ominous (probably quite scary for 1916 movie audiences). There is an air of anti-Chinese sentiment in the film (also playing upon 1916 fears?)
And yes, Ennyday has a television transmitter that he uses to communicate. Odd to see from a 1916 film, but actually pretty accurate in its design to some of the earliest TV Tuners.
Thank you, IMDb, for helping me to track down the title to this film. I need to seek it out for another viewing.
However this film, made by Tod Browning (the infamous creator of "Freaks"), has absolutely nothing negative to say about cocaine: Cocaine is funny, cocaine is fun, and cocaine lets you do superhuman things.
Fairbanks, who was a coke addict in real life, stars in this film. It's funny simply for the fact that it's an unapologetic pro-drug comedy, though if you don't find that kind of thing funny, you won't find this movie interesting at all. In fact it seems like the movie was made on drugs, the titles go by so quickly that you'd have to be a member of Mensa just to read them without pausing. The plot is nonexistent, it's just a series of cheap drug gags, in the vein of Cheech & Chong had they lived in 1915.
"The Mystery of the Leaping Fish" has acquired a decent cult status for a silent film from the 1910s, and I consider it one of Fairbanks's most enjoyable comedies. Yet, Fairbanks, reportedly, disliked it so much that he didn't want it distributed. According to Jeffrey Vance ("Douglas Fairbanks"), the film was made twice: first by Christy Cabanne, who was fired and whose footage was entirely discarded, and then by John Emerson with the assistance of Tod Browning—this second filming is what was released and what we see today. Besides Fairbanks, credit here needs to go to Browning's very original scenario, in addition to Emerson's direction and Anita Loos's title card writing. In the end and within the movie, the film we just saw turns out to be a scenario pitch by Fairbanks, and it's such a weird idea that it's rejected. I like it.
There's neat-o effects like backwards film to show Ennyday leaping out of water or onto rafters, as well as some minor slapstick, but the film's not all that funny, just weird. A recurring image is Ennyday looking a bit down, hand propping up his drooping face, the other reaching into his rope where a a belt of syringes is strapped around his chest. He'll take a syringe, inject himself, & then his face will beam with happiness.
Was drug humor like this popular in the 1910s? Did people really have that sort of knowledge about what cocaine could do? I don't really know, but for the modern audience - I saw this last night & the crowd ate it up - its utter strangeness & the farce that drug use is returned to is sure to please.
Contains what may be the first television shown in a movie.
The film is a detective parady, a farce and, to me, a social commentary, a insider's wink at friends on the madness of the drug use that was presumably going on all over - before all the regulations. Just fun, fun, fun. That in itself is what is so amazing about it. It will alter any conservative romanticism about the good ole 'daze'! No one has commented on the rich and hilarious background track of music (I've got one on mine) filled with early American music all about drugs. The songs and the music are fabulous.
To me, this is a film made by friends for friends.
I haven't pulled this one out for years but will go on the hunt for it and watch it again - I absolutely love Douglas Fairbanks. I'm looking forward to getting The Thief Of Bagdad which is one of my favorites.
This is a story of an ersatz Sherlock Holmes played by Douglas Fairbanks (senior), and is framed by him as himself trying to sell the script.
Within the story proper, we have two components. One is a spoof of Sherlock as a dope fiend, someone who literally cannot go more than 60 seconds without an injection. The second component is a reduced mystery involving drug smuggling and ending with the detective "Coke Ennyday" getting the girl. Both of these use the same comic devices involving the effects of cocaine, then legal.
Its a bit tiresome after a while, but the thing continues to surprise with secondary comic effects that are quite clever. In fact, I enjoyed this more than the last twenty contemporary comedies I have seen. But then I am a particularly receptive audience because I take the detective form so seriously.
The talent here is Tod Browning, from the era of "Intolerance." It shows.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
Probably the habits of its principal male character, a bizarre detective who's name is Coke Ennyday ( played by a young and funny Herr Douglas Fairbanks ) are not very common among the aristocratic class ( or at least in such huge proportions ) and the costumes that he wears are too eccentric for the Teutonic bourgeoisie more accustomed to elegant dress and discreet cocktail suits. Not to mention that the gadgets that Herr Ennyday uses are too modern for the 10's Anyway, whatever it is, each time this German count watches this bizarre, inventive, bold, amazing film full of puns written by Dame Anita Loos and assisted by Herr Tod Browning, the miracle happens and this German count laughs in a stentorian voice!.
"The Mystery Of The Leaping Fish" is rarity, a film that even today astonishes the audience with its superb political incorrectness, a surreal, indescribable and unclassifiable film; that is to say, an unique silent masterpiece.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must sniff snuff.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com/
**** The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (6/11/16) John Emerson ~ Douglas Fairbanks, Bessie Love, Allan Sears
The Mystery of the Leaping Fish stars Douglas Fairbanks as Coke Ennyday, the "scientific detective." Old Coke divides his time between, as the movie so delightfully informs us, "Sleeps" "Eats," "Dope," and "Drink." Despite the fact that he's coked out his gourd, he stumbles across an opium smuggling ring. The Chinese or Japanese or some kind of hybrid Chapanese are smuggling opium via "Leaping Fishes" amusements, i.e. inflatable fish rafts for rent by the seashore. For some inexplicable reason, a Gent Rolling in Wealth (A. D. Sears) is blackmailing the Gang Leader (William Lowery) to force the Little Fish Blower (Bessie Love) – yeah, you read that right – to marry him. Zaniness ensures, Coke Ennyday helps the Police Chief I.M. Keene (Tom Wilson) bust the smugglers, the Little Fish Blower doesn't have to blow any more fish, do any more blow, or marry anybody, and all is right with the world.
The plot isn't the wildest part. Aside from starring silent powerhouse Fairbanks, the scenario was written by Tod Browning. And an uncredited D.W. Griffith. And intertitled by Anita Loos. Basically, The Mystery of the Leaping Fish is the Traveling Wilburys of movies, with about the same results. Much like that pop super-group, the final product doesn't measure up to the collected talent pool. In fact, the whole thing is just very odd. Dare I say it seems like the product of some coke fueled lost weekend? The sort of thing that seemed like a good idea at the time? None of which is to say you should not watch The Mystery of the Leaping Fish. You should watch it. One, Fairbanks, though he doesn't look quite himself in this flick, is always Fairbanks. To see him do "coked up" is to see some of his patented amazing physicality. But mostly you should watch it to be boggled by the daringness of the subject matter and boldness of the satire. I mean, The Little Fish Blower? How very outre. Most viewers who sit down to watch a silent film made in 1916 probably aren't quite prepared to see a lead actor wearing a bandolier of hypos and taking handfuls of white powder from a bucket labeled "cocaine" and rubbing it all over his face. It takes a lot to shock a modern cinema goer, but there are some, if not shocking, at lease very surprising things here.
Often, The Mystery of the Leaping Fish is described as a pro-drug farce. I wouldn't say that, but mostly because the narrative is too muddled to be pro or con anything. Coke Ennyday and the police seem to be a-OK with Coke's coke use, but they take a less approving approach to the opium smugglers. Yet Coke dips into the opium as well. While the filmmakers have a firm grasp on the effects of cocaine, opium doesn't typically get ya all jazzed up. Or, um, so I've been told. If there was some point being made here, I'm not at all sure what it was.
All in all, The Mystery of the Leaping Fish is deeply weird. See it for the sight gags (check out Coke's checkered car!) and Fairbanks at his absolute nuttiest. Also see it for strangely discombobulating experience of seeing it and puzzling over it.
'The Mystery of the Leaping Fish' is an odd little spoof. It was released two years after cocaine was effectively outlawed in the United States by the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. Our hero's mission, though this becomes a little unclear in the convoluted middle-act, is to bust an opium-smuggling operation. He does this, but not before he's tasted enough of the stuff to satisfy his appetite. Drug addiction is lightly passed over as an amusing quirk. Whenever he feels down, Coke Ennyday injects himself with cocaine, and immediately perks up, proceeding to laugh and dance across the room (indeed, he essentially bounces through the entire final act). Drugs are even depicted as a useful weapon of sorts: when faced with one formidable foe, Ennyday simply injects his opponent, who promptly jumps to the ceiling. In scenes like this, reversed footage is used to amusing effect, as in G.W. Bitzer's 'The Impossible Convicts (1906).'
Coke Ennyday, a detective described as a drug—addicted himself, uncovers a band of opium smugglers, the Leaping Fish being a place on the beach, where Coke goes to track down the smugglers; the _absurdism of this short burlesque requires a certain degree of sophistication. This kind of freedom was later suppressed or molded by the mainstream audiences' requirements.
He plays a detective who eats, sleeps, drinks and takes dope when he isn't solving crime. When we're introduced to him he's sitting at a desk with a huge tub of cocaine on it and repeatedly injecting into his arm. He's asked by the chief of police to investigate a suspicious character who is rolling in money and, in no time at all, nabs the bad guys and wins the winsome Bessie Love, who we first meet blowing up a fish. It's that kind of movie, and while it won't have you laughing out loud too often it will surely leave you questioning whether you're really seeing what you're seeing.
I do not advocate drug use (just wanted to make that clear) but this should be viewed by anyone interested in film. Then watch 'Reefer Madness.' What a difference in American social opinion! While old Sherlock is snuffing up cocaine and injecting himself silly while still managing to solve a case, the teenagers have a couple of joints and end up doing stupid things like murder, suicide, attempted rape, hit and run...
'The Mystery of the Leaping fish' is funny because it's shocking - the flippancy with which drug use is treated is breath taking. It should not be taken seriously, obviously, but it is an interesting piece in terms of social/cultural context.
Coke Ennyday (portrayed by Douglas Fairbanks of all people) has a drug habit worse than Cheech and Chong. He is constantly shooting up from a bandolier of syringes...and goes wild after finding a tin full of opium. It's so exaggerated that it is funny...if you look at it in the eyes of those relatively innocent times and not the more troubled era we currently live in.
** (out of 4)
Extremely bizarre spoof of Sherlock Holmes written by Tod Browning and an uncredited D.W. Griffith with Douglas Fairbanks in the lead. Detective Coke Ennyday (Fairbanks) spends all his time drinking booze, snorting cocaine and smoking pot but he gets a chance at a comeback when the flying fish shows up. Can you imagine a comedy where the hero spends all day snorting cocaine? I guess this short goes to show that Browning was a bit twisted even before getting into the director's chair but outside all the drugs this film is pretty much dead on arrival. There aren't any laughs and the drug jokes don't go over too well. Certainly worth watching once but that's about it.