AN ECCENTRIC BURGLARY (1905)
Article 4912 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Frank S. Mottershaw
What it is: Odd trick film
Two Chinese men attempt a robbery, but end up on the run from two policemen.
The plot description above doesn’t give a hint of the fantastic content, and except for an anomalous moment where a horse mysteriously vanishes, there’s really no fantastic content in the story as such. However, in execution, many of the characters perform stunts that are either impossible or (at the very least) very strange. The movie makes extensive use of the technique of running footage backwards, and what sets this one apart a little from some of the others is that the scenes are often performed by the actors to give the illusion that the footage is not running backwards until you reach the impossible stunt. People jump from the ground to second story windows, slide up banisters and ladders, etc. Every once in a while the backwards footage is more blatant, such as a scene where the policemen are chasing a horse and buggy and we see them running backwards. It’s a little odd and it doesn’t quite work, but it does feel different from a lot of the other trick films of the time; I think this may be the first time I’ve heard of the director, though he did have quite a few credits under his belt.