The Recycled Spectacle

Dix Femmes pour un mari (Ten Women for One Husband)

Ferdinand Zecca/Georges Hatot, Pathé-Frères, France, 1905

A man advertises in a newspaper for a wife, but when he arrives at the appointed meeting spot, he finds no fewer than ten women lying in wait. For the rest of the film, he runs away and the women pursue him. Biograph’s Personal, which was released in June 1904, seems to have been the prototype of this comic premise (see Chapter 5.2 and Figure 5.18). Edison’s version, How a French Nobleman Got a Wife through the New York “Herald” Personal Columns, came out later in the same year. Biograph’s copyright-infringement suit was unsuccessful, and the idea survived to be plagiarized on many another day. Before the year was out, the Lubin Co. had released two versions—A New Version of “Personal” (later retitled Meet Me at the Fountain) and Through the Matrimonial Agency—and Pathé contributed Dix Femmes pour un mari in 1905. In 1907, Wallace McCutcheon, who’d made the Biograph original, made a variation (also for Biograph) called Wife Wanted. In the same year, G.M. Anderson (working at the Selig Polyscope Co.) gave the premise a Western twist in The Matinee Idol. Hatot (1876-1959), like Lucien Nonguet a onetime manager of theatrical crowd scenes, had also been a director for Lumière.

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