MOTOR PIRATES (1906)
aka The Modern Pirates
Article 4134 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-19-2013
Directed by Arthur Melbourne Cooper
What it is: Science fiction thriller
Criminals use an armored car to perform robberies, but the police get on their trail.
Armored cars aren’t science fiction anymore, but back in 1906, they were, and this one (which is vaguely submarine-shaped and has a hood that opens up like a monster opening its mouth) looks pretty exotic. Even more interesting is that this short is played more for thrills than laughs, which is rather unusual for its time. This is not to say that there aren’t a few laughs here; some of the cops’ actions seem vaguely comic, and there is something rather funny about seeing the car open its “mouth” and swallow things. Still, the emphasis is on action and thrills, with several people killed in the opening scene and some early stunt work. In some ways, this is a fairly impressive little short, and I’m glad it just got saved from my “ones-that-got-away” list, which it entered yesterday.