The Mechanical Man (1921)
aka L’uomo meccanio
Article 5502 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Andre Deed
Featuring Giulia Costa, Andre Deed, Valentina Frascaroli
What it is: Comic thriller
An evil woman has stolen plans for a mechanical man, which she builds and uses for a wave of criminal activity. Can she be defeated?
Only about a third of this film is extant, and if it hadn’t been on my suggestion list, I might have chosen not to cover it. However, since it was on my suggestion list (and since the remaining footage does feature a wealth of mechanical man action), I did, and I’m glad I did. The opening of my print of the movie features a complete rundown of the plot, which helps in following the thing, since the remaining footage jumps right in the middle of the action. It doesn’t look like I really missed a lot; the first two-thirds of the movie seems to use the plans for a mechanical man as a Gizmo Maguffin for a story about criminals trying to get hold of the plans (albeit one with a comic sensibility), which would be the dull part of the movie. However, once the mechanical man is made, we have plenty of robot fun. Less fun is the comic relief character, who mostly seems to engage in unmemorable slapstick antics. However, the highlight of the movie is comic in nature; the mechanical man shows up at a party where it is mistaken for a man in costume. The actual battle between the two mechanical men is a bit disappointing, as they look more like the they’re dancing rather than fighting. Still, for a movie missing two-thirds of its footage, the extant material is entertaining enough to warrant a look.