Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mary Jane's Mishap

Yesterday, I noticed that the Forgotten Actors blog had a post on somebody named Laura Bayley. I'd never heard of her, so I clicked on the link and found out that she was the wife of one of the pioneering British film directors -- and by pioneering, I really mean those pioneers who were making one-reel and under films at the end of the 19th century and into the beginning of the 20th, even before people like DW Griffith came along. One of the films mentioned was Mary Jane's Mishap, which was illustrated with an interesting screencap or two. Gotta love those facial expressions.

Since the movie is from 1903, it's in the public domain, which means that it's unsurprisingly made it to Youtube courtesy of several posters. Below is the version put up by the British Film Institute. Judge for yourself.

I think you also have to enjoy the vintage things in it, such as Bayley carrying around a big container marked "PARAFFIN" in letters large enough that the audience will be able to make out what it is. It looks like something that would become a staple of cartoons; just think of all those gadgets from the Acme Corporation that Wile E. Coyote uses to try to catch the Road Runner. But in 1903, such conventions had barely been invented. I was going to ask who even uses paraffin these days, but apparently the British use the word "paraffin" for what we in the US call "kerosene". I always thought paraffin was a type of wax.

No comments: