WHAT IS HOME WITHOUT THE BOARDER (1901)
aka La maison tranquille
Article 4305 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Georges Melies
What it is: Comedy
Three rambunctious boarders break a hole in the floor to terrorize the residents who live below them.
This movie is listed in the Walt Lee guide, but it neglects to list anything about its fantastic content. I’m guessing that it got in the list on the strength of seeing Melies as the director, because on viewing the short, I really don’t see any fantastic content. The closest it comes is in a scene where one of the boarders drops down to the room below, covers himself with a blanket, and then frightens someone entering the room. Though it could be argued that the resident thought it was a ghost, the fact that the boarder was hunched over and had sticks sticking out of both ends of the blanket leaves me to believe he was imitating an elephant, not a ghost. Therefore, this movie is a bit of a false alarm.
The movie is also devoid of typical Meliesian special effects, as well. The novelty of the short is that both floors are seen at the same time, and it seems to highlight the athleticism of the performers (one of which is probably Melies himself) in performing their feats of dropping down and climbing up to other floors. There’s really no plot to speak of, and it’s not particularly funny; it’s more interesting than effective.