Bright Lights Film Journal

Some Max Linder Picture

Max reprend sa liberté
(Troubles of a Grass Widower)
(Max Linder; 1912)

The beauty of this affable domestic morality play by Max Linder rests entirely with the actor/director’s seemingly inexhaustible ability to balance that ineffably graceful screen presence of his against the stock character of a less than competent husband, consigned to his own dysfunctional devices after the wife runs home to Mother. Linder’s comedies were always like this; forever two steps less unhinged, even in their slapstick elements, than the lovely knockabout grotesquerie of Keystone; and with a shade more emphasis on character. Though never as wildly successful in the States as the pantheon comics (Chaplin, Arbuckle, Keaton, Lloyd, etc), each of these eminences nevertheless took away something from Linder’s work, without which their work, indeed the soul of American screen comedy itself, would have assumed a very different, possibly less charming form.