Le roi des dollars (1905)
Article 5909 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Segundo de Chomon
What it is: Magic trick short
A number of magic tricks are performed with coins.
I’ve covered so many “magic trick” shorts from the early silents that I was tempted to skip reviewing this one. However, I was struck by the fact that Chomon found such a novel way to frame the magic tricks here that I felt it deserved notice. Chomon focuses only on the arm and hand of the magician, so we get a much closer look at the coin appearing out of nowhere. Since I suspect camera tricks were used rather than sleight of hand, I have to say that the cuts are pretty seamless for the most part, and the hand movements really make it look like it’s sleight of hand. What I found most striking is that the tricks also involve a man’s head being tapped by the hand, causing him to spit out a stream of gold coins (thanks to hand-coloring). I don’t know who the head really belongs to, but he looks for all the world like Melies, which may be a reference or may be coincidence. At any rate, this is indeed a striking example of the “magic trick” short.