WHEN THE DEVIL DRIVES (1907)
Article 5370 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Walter R. Booth
What it is: Fun trick short
The devil hijacks a coach and a train and takes its passengers on a merry ride.
This ended up on my “ones that got away” list, but a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of a YouTube video, though he also passed on a warning that this particular print of the short movie is horrid. And it is. Not only does the print cut off huge sections of the original frame (it’s hard to find a scene where the devil’s head is NOT cut off), it’s running at the wrong projection speed (cutting a five-minute short down to three minutes), and the action is obscured by an obnoxious watermark logo in the center of the screen, a website flag on the top of the screen, and time lapse indicator near the bottom of the screen. This is a damned shame, because from what I could see, this is really a creative special effects short; it reminded me somewhat of THE ? MOTORIST. We see visions of the train riding on telephone waters, travelling underwater (which is pretty surreal), assembling itself on the side of a mountain, and flying off into the clouds. There’s a wonderful Melies collection out there, and I hope someday someone takes an interest in some of the lesser-known special effects directors out there and produces high-quality sets of their shorts as well. This is one I hope someday to see in a pristine condition; I know there are much better copies out there.