Max Linder

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Max Linder

(1883-1925)

Repka Nick form 11 ”B”

Max Linder

(1883-1925)

About Linder

As I have never seen a Max

Linder film, I cannot write anything about him. I have thus

reproduced here two separate articles. Suffice to say, Walter Kerr in

The Silent Clowns (see books page) rates him as a true pioneer of

film comedy (e.g. the joke of being unveiled on a statue used by

Keaton in The Goat and Chaplin in City Lights was first used by

Linder).

b. Gabriel-Maximilien

Leuvielle Dec 16 1883, Caverne, France. d. 1925.

At 17 he left high school to

study drama and soon after began an acting career on the Bordeaux

stage. He moved to Paris in 1904 and started playing supporting parts

in melodramas. In 1905 he embarked upon a parallel career in

Pathe films. For three years he spent his days in the film

studios and his evenings on the stage, using his real name in the

theater and the pseudonym Max Linder on the screen. By 1908 he had

given up the stage to concentrate on his increasingly successful

screen career. By 1910 he was an internationally popular comedian,

possibly the best-known screen comic on either side of the Atlantic

in the years before WW I. Typically playing a dapper dandy of the

idle class, he developed a style of slapstick silent screen comedy

that anticipated Mack Sennett and Chaplin and set the premises of the

genre for years to come. Ferdinand Zecca, Louis Gasnier, and Alberto

Capelani were among the directors of his earliest films.

By 1910, Linder was writing

and supervising, and from 1911 also directing, all his own films. His popularity was at its peak in 1914, when he was called to arms. Early

in the war he was a victim of gas poisoning and suffered a serious

breakdown. The injury was to have a lasting effect on his physical and mental well-being. He returned briefly to French films, but

finding his popularity vanishing, he accepted a bid from Essanay and

left for the US late in 1916. Continuous ill health hampered the American phase of Linder's career from the start. In mid-1917, after

only three films, he was felled by double pneumonia and spent nearly

a year recovering in a Swiss sanitarium. When he returned to the US

in 1921, he formed his own production unit, releasing through United

Artists. But after making only three more American films, including

the celebrated parody (of Fairbanks’ The Three Musketeers) The Three Must-Get-Theres, he returned to Europe, where he married the

daughter of a Paris restaurateur in 1923. Linder made two more film

appearances: one in France, the other in Austria, but realized his career was finished. In 1925 he entered a suicide pact with his wife.

Their bodies were discovered side by side in a Paris hotel. He

remained forgotten for years, until the 60s, when many of his old

films began turning up, affording film historians an opportunity to

evaluate his career and his contributions to the evolution of screen

comedy.

Biography from

Quinlan’s Film Comedy Actors

With his foxy brown eyes

matched by a like moustache, cane, elegant cutaway coat, silk cravat,

kid gloves and gleaming top hat, Max Linder could have been every

inch the French boulevardier who “walked along the Bois de

Boulogne with an independent air”--had not, in films, everything

gone wrong for him. Max Linder was France’s first great film

comedian. But not for him any kind of dress that smacked of the

circus clown. Max was always debonair, even in the face of disaster.

His early films in France, of which he made scores, are cameos of

catastrophe, little gems which work a variety of gags on a single

situation, such as taking a bath, getting dressed, or (quite often,

as the wolfish Max pursued his prey) chasing a damsel. He was

enormously popular in the early 1900s. And, had not war intervened,

he would perhaps have been happily entertaining continental audiences