SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK (1921)
Article 4303 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Max Linder
Featuring Max Linder, Alta Allen, Ralph McCullough
Country: USA / France
What it is: Comedy
A rich and soon-to-be-married bachelor breaks a mirror, and then tries to avoid the seven years bad luck that goes with it. However, despite his best efforts, bad luck begins to dog him and threatens to hoodwink his upcoming marriage.
This isn’t the first movie I’ve covered from Max Linder, but the other one I’ve seen (AU SECOURS! from 1922) is more of a special effects showcase and doesn’t feel really representative of his work. So I consider this one a more authentic example of the Max Linder experience, and I found it charming, delightful and very funny. I’m especially taken by the creativity of some of his comic bits; for example, this is the movie that debuted the famous mirror gag in which one person has to pretend to be another’s mirror reflection, and it’s in fine form here. There’s a great sequence in a zoo where, on the run from the police, Max seeks refuge in a lion cage. He also engages in numerous disguises, and even manages to pull off appearing in blackface (using a stocking over his head rather than makeup) without the gag becoming offensive; he’s doing it to elude pursuit only and doesn’t engage in stereotypical behavior. Granted, the fantastic content is iffy; it consists of the “seven years bad luck” curse, and the presence of a palm reader at a couple of points in the story. Nevertheless, I’m really glad to have seen this one and had a chance to see a master silent comedian in top form.