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With: Max Linder, Alta Allen
Written by: Max Linder
Directed by: Max Linder
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 62
Date: 05/27/2014
IMDB

The Max Linder Collection (1921)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Maxed Out

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Max Linder was an early, tragic figure in silent comedy. He was born in France and made many short comedies beginning in 1905. He began directing in 1908, by 1912 was the most popular and highest-paid film star in the world. He apparently influenced Chaplin. He eventually came to Hollywood and made three features, but scarred from the first World War and unable to fit in, he eventually returned to France and committed suicide in 1925.

Unlike the juvenile approach of other comedians, Linder was a grown-up, well-dressed. Some say the American films lack the energy, the twinkle, that the French short films had. Those three American features have been released, along with one short, on a new DVD from Kino Lorber; it's a re-release of an Image Entertainment DVD from 2003.

The main attraction is probably Seven Years Bad Luck (1921), in which Max is fooled into breaking a mirror; it's actually a replacement for the one that his amorous servants have already broken. For a time, there's a nifty sequence in which the servants try to convince Max that the mirror is still there, but then he ventures out into the city and experiences a huge run of bad luck. He loses his fiancee to his friend, loses his money and belongings, and tries to board a train without a ticket, which leads to a huge chase.

I must admit that, while the movie is quaint and has some delightful, springy moments, it's not hysterically funny, and nowhere near as good as some of Linder's successors. Yet I know that he's often left out of discussions of silent comedy -- he was not mentioned in James Agee's great LIFE Magazine essay -- and that should be corrected. Hopefully this DVD will inspire others to look for themselves.

The other films are The Three Must-Get-Theres (1922) -- a spoof of The Three Musketeers -- and Be My Wife (1921). The short is Max Wants a Divorce (1917).

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