SLIPPERY JIM (1910)
Article 4289 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Ferdinand Zecca
What it is: Comic escape story
The police capture a pickpocket, but have trouble holding on to him, since he seems to get out of every restraint they put on him.
This short appears on a recent DVD of Houdini movies, not because Houdini appears in it, but rather because the short may have been inspired by Houdini, who performed in France around that time. The short actually shows how the pickpocket escapes from his various restraints, but you can rest assured that none of Houdini’s secrets were given away; Slippery Jim’s escapes are clearly impossible. I won’t reveal just how he does them, because that’s part of the comic charm here; it’s a genuinely funny film. The pickpocket also appears to have several other magical powers as well that come into play during the chase scene in the second half of the film, so there’s plenty of fantastic content to go around. This one is a lot of fun.