This short comedy from Alice Guy of Gaumont, "The Drunken Mattress," is a good example of the development of continuity editing in the story film. The humor may be dated, with an inebriate ending up stuffed in a mattress--chaos ensuing. "The mattress, a symbol of matrimony, as well as sex, is removed from the domestic sphere," however, as Alison McMahan (in her book "Alice Guy Blaché: Lost Visionary of the Cinema") says, and, "Once in the field it is possessed by the most appropriate symbol of the irrepressible and aggressive spirit of the street: a drunkard." In this respect, too, McMahan refers to the mattress as the mattress-mender's (as portrayed by a man in drag) "runaway desires." Regardless, the construction of this comedy is quite sophisticated for its day.
It's an early film to feature crosscutting--and with semi-reverse angles--from shots two through six. In other scenes, off-screen space is exploited and match cuts employed. Otherwise, too, the montage here is remarkably sober, as opposed to its drunken trouble maker. The axis of action is respected as the plot assumes the trajectory of prior chase comedies, from one place to another, one knockabout episode eclipsing the one before. Not including the stop-substitution trick effects, I counted sixteen shots in this, one of Guy's better films from this transitional period in the development of narrative cinema.
As the studio was want to do, Pathé quickly plagiarized this Gaumont production as "Le Matelas de la mariée" (1906). Guy's version, too, McMahan suggests bares a passing resemblance to the Lumière film, "Querelle de matelassières" ("The Quarrel of the Mattress-makers") (1898), which, having seen it, too, a single shot-scene slapstick skit between women, that connection is, indeed, slight.
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