Sunday, 15 March 2015

1908: Troubles of a Grass Widower

Troubles of a Grass Widower
Now we're getting somewhere. Max Linder's "Troubles of a Grass Widower" is part of a silent comedy tradition that's recognisable to a modern viewer. We have a fully developed character  - not just a random person having surreal dreams or fantastic accidents but someone we can relate to in situations we might have had to deal with. In this case, Max's wife goes home to mother after he ignores her once too often at breakfast, leaving Max to cope - ineptly - with making his dinner, doing the dishes, making the bed, and wondering where the hell he put his tie.  
We're not all high-living Edwardian-era Frenchmen, of course, and we don't still live in a time when there's such clear demarcation of what's women's work and what's men's work but we haven't totally lost the idea that some men at least can be a bit useless when it comes to commonplace tasks that their significant other is normally the one to do. If you don't agree, you can take my word for it.
Max Linder is the first silent comedian to have a well-defined screen identity, and he's a master of it. He can be graceful, balletic and charming one moment, clumsy and gauche the next, without missing a beat. It's clear why Chaplin called him "my professor".
Also finally here's a good version on YouTube - no music though. Ignore the incorrect date, this is definitely from 1908.