Le courant electrique (1906)

aka The Electric Current

Article 3597 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-5-2011
Posting Date: 6-20-2011
Directed by Segundo de Chomon
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Comic silent short

A grocer electrifies his goods to prevent thieves from running off with his ware. Unfortunately, the current can’t tell the difference between thieves and other people…

Here’s another Segundo de Chomon movie that I could have covered during my Chomon-o-thon, but it wasn’t until this morning that I was able to match the English title under which it entered my list (THE ELECTRIC CURRENT) with the French title. In fact, IMDB didn’t even have the English title listed under their entry, and it wasn’t until I checked CITWF that I connected the two titles and realized that not only was it listed on IMDB, but I had a copy of the movie. That’s a lot of explanation going towards a movie that barely runs over a minute; it’s mostly a short comic bit where we get to see a bunch of people jumping around spasmodically to electric shocks. I do like the ending twist, though.

Rescued in Mid-Air (1906)

Article 3596 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-3-2011
Posting Date: 6-19-2011
Directed by Percy Stow
Cast unknown
Country: UK
What it is: Daring rescue trick film

After a woman is stranded on a steeple as the result of a biking accident, a professor with an airship attempts to rescue her.

I never knew bikes were so dangerous; when this one hits the wagon the woman was sitting in, it tosses her up into the heavens, and she only reaches the steeple thanks to her parasol, which causes her to float like Mary Poppins. The airship is also pretty amusing; it has propellers on the bottom and flapping wings on the side. All in all, this is a fairly amusing trick film.

Paracelsus (1945)

Article 3595 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-1-2011
Posting Date: 6-18-2011
Directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Featuring Werner Krauss, Harry Langewisch, Annelies Reinhold
Country: Germany
What it is: Biopic

A doctor who uses new methods of treatment runs into resistance from the establishment.

Though it’s nice that I was able to salvage this title from the “ones that got away” list, I have to admit that the fact that my copy is in unsubtitled German renders the movie almost unintelligible to me; what I have of the plot is based on other descriptions. As stated above, it is a biopic, but the fantastic content consists of one very striking moment when Death appears, whose scythe is deflected by the sword of Paracelsus. There are other interesting moments here, as the movie uses music and dance in very effective ways; between a bizarre dance in a tavern and a march of singing men flogging themselves, I really wish I knew what was going on enough to know the significance of the events. At least my inability to follow the story and the dialogue spares me the Nazi propaganda that no doubt is present. Nevertheless, I really wished that I could have followed this one.

Voyage a la planete Jupiter (1909)

aka Le voyage sur Jupiter, A Trip to Jupiter

Article 3594 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-31-2011
Posting Date: 6-17-2011
Directed by Segundo de Chomon
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Early space travel film

A king, after having spent the evening looking at the planets with an astronomer, dreams that he climbs a ladder to Jupiter.

Though it’s obvious the Segundo de Chomon was familiar with Melies’s A TRIP TO THE MOON, he doesn’t slavishly imitate it. In this case, the trip is a dream, and the method of travel (a ladder) is certainly novel. Getting there is half the fun, which is just as well; not a whole lot happens when he gets there; the king encounters some tumbling space people and meets another king who has fire in his touch, and then he is unceremoniously tossed off the planet. It’s entertaining enough, though it’s simply not up to the level of the Melies classic.

Women of the Prehistoric Planet (1966)

Article 3593 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-30-2011
Posting Date: 6-16-2011
Directed by Arthur C. Pierce
Featuring Wendell Corey, Keith Larsen, John Agar
Country: USA
What it is: Space adventure

The admiral of a space fleet goes against orders by embarking on a rescue mission for a ship under his command that crash-landed on an unexplored planet.

This is one of three movies that are easy to confuse with each other, the other two being VOYAGE TO A PREHISTORIC PLANET and VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN. This is the only one of the three that didn’t pillage PLANETA BUR for footage; most of the footage was shot specifically for this movie. To its credit, the movie tries at least a little bit to be about something; the subplots involving the Centaurians does hint at some commentary about prejudice, but if the movie has anything significant to say about the subject, it gets lost in the mix. The bottom-of-the-barrel special effects I can forgive; the dull story, bad dialogue, mostly ineffectual acting, turgid pace, painful comic relief and general hangdog air are what sink this one. Even the title is a cheat; there’s only one woman, and those expecting anything in the way of dinosaur action will have to put up with one easily-killed big lizard. The other two movies may have cobbled their best footage from PLANETA BUR, but at least that footage was interesting. All in all, this one is pretty pathetic.

Fricot a bu le remede du cheval (1910)

aka Friscot Drinks a Bottle of Horse Embrocation, Fricot beve la medicina

Article 3592 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-29-2011
Posting Date: 6-15-2011
Director unknown
Featuring Ernesto Vaser
Country: Italy
What it is: Man-acts-like-animal early comedy

Fricot is sent out to buy a bottle of horse medicine. Fricot drinks it himself, and begins acting like a horse. Hilarity ensues.

I pretty much had an idea of what this was going to be like at the outset. My only question was – How would the plot set it up so Fricot would accidentally drink this bottle of horse medicine? The answer is simple; Fricot drinks it on purpose. Conclusion: Fricot is an idiot, but I suppose that’s why it’s a comedy. On top of acting like a horse, it also seems to give him the ability to jump between metal bars, though I don’t think I would have tried it. It all ends with a chase scene. Here’s another early silent to cross of the list.

Ne jouez pas avec les Martiens (1967)

aka Don’t Play With the Martians

Article 3591 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-28-2011
Posting Date: 6-14-2011
Directed by Henri Lanoe
Featuring Jean Rochefort, Macha Meril, Jean Ozenne
Country: France
What it is: Science fiction comedy

A pair of reporters find their job in peril because of their inability to report on the important stories in favor of fluff pieces. They are given a last chance to redeem themselves by covering the birth of quintuplets in a remote location. When a joke message about Martians is sent to the editor right before a power blackout, the message is taken seriously. The situation is complicated when real space aliens appear…

Actually, I had some happy surprises while watching this movie. The first was to discover that I had managed to find a copy that was dubbed into English, so I didn’t have to struggle to follow the story. There’s a point in the movie after the joke message is sent out where I found myself wondering if the Martians were going to be no more real than the ones in THE NIGHT THAT PANICKED AMERICA, because, at that point, I got the feeling that the rest of the movie was going to be built around that misunderstanding. Fortunately, in terms of its fantastic content, space aliens do show up, and though they’re technically not Martians, they’ll do. Overall, it’s a pretty silly comedy, but there are a couple of good laughs; the biggest for me was discovering why the space aliens show up. Overall, it’s a minor curio more than anything else.