The Man In The Silk Hat
July 3, 2012 12:26 PM   Subscribe

For a time, Max Linder was considered the greatest of film comedians. Star of over 500 films (examples, 1, 2), inventor of the mirror gag, he was arguably the first film star. His life changed forever when he fought on the front lines in World War I, surviving three serious wounds, including a gas attack. Thereafter, he began bouts of depression. In 1925, he talked his new bride into a suicide pact, dying on Halloween.

Their orphaned daughter, Maud Linder was raised not knowing her heritage. At age 20 she learned who her father was and years later she made a loving documentary of the marvelous works of her father.
posted by dances_with_sneetches (11 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
When I came across his tale it struck me it had everything. A bit of "The Artist," a bit of "Hugo," even a bit of Dickens. Certainly worth a great screenplay, director taking on this story. From what I can tell, Maud Linder is still alive, living in France.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:38 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just read a biography of Charlie Chaplin; the author is certain that Linder was a major influence in Chaplin's life, despite Chaplin being rather reticent about such topics of origin.
posted by Melismata at 12:42 PM on July 3, 2012

The documentary you link is titled THE MAN IN THE SILK HAT and so far as I know it is the best film available showing Linder's talents. He was an inspiration to Chaplin.

Hopefully some company like Flicker Alley will come up with a DVD / Blu-ray of his work.
posted by Rashomon at 12:55 PM on July 3, 2012

And watch how the viewing area ducks and swings around 2:30 of the mirror gag vid - we may also be seeing the first cam rip!
posted by FatherDagon at 12:58 PM on July 3, 2012

Very interesting, and in the end very sad.

When I've been handling a lot of silent films at work, and get to idly chatting with co-workers about "Whatever happened to" so-and-so, it seems to me that the answer more often than not turns out to be "Oh, just SOMETHING HORRIBLE."

"Oh, right, I forgot Mary Pickford's brother acted too. Whatever happened to him? And to his first wife Olive Thomas? And to comedian Karl Dane?" *checks Wikipedia* *gets depressed* *reminds self not to ask that question because it guarantees that someone was eaten alive by sharks while falling under a derailing train of orphans during WWI*

(I know, confirmation bias. BUT STILL.)
posted by theatro at 1:05 PM on July 3, 2012 [6 favorites]

This site has a list of morbid comedian deaths. Perhaps the most unusual was Billie Ritchie, who died after being attacked by an ostrich.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:26 PM on July 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

we may also be seeing the first cam rip!

I get the impression that was the uploader himself ripping the projected film to video ("I found it it Toronto Music-Video shop on Dundas-Yonge St. It was like´╗┐ Unic[orn?].").

I'm also not sure why people are certain this was the invention of the mirror gag, which likely existed in vaudeville long before it was ever filmed.
posted by dhartung at 1:30 PM on July 3, 2012

Pro tip, theatro: don't go boating with Wm. Randolph Hearst.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:30 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mirror scene. Wow.
posted by zzazazz at 3:13 PM on July 3, 2012

Painful as it can be to see forgotten pasts remembered, I've enjoyed the revelations of the net in the past few years. For decades I've seen those films (and heard the old music and read the old books) without any chance of appreciating the people who made them possible.

That we're fragile - and always have been - is one of the best parts. The lionizations of a few historical figures can then be recognized as the uplifting of some accidents, usually for gainful purposes, and the single narrow dusty beam of history is erased like the pulling down of the curtains in Great Expectations ... and the contributions of the many finally appreciated.
posted by Twang at 3:49 PM on July 3, 2012

Geez, Twang, that was brilliant. ( *speechless*)
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 10:22 PM on July 3, 2012

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