See the moving picture


The Spectacle of Authority Run Amok

La Course des sergents de ville (The Policemen’s Little Run)

Ferdinand Zecca, Pathé-Frères, France, 1907

When a pit bull steals a ham from a shop window, a burgeoning squad of Parisian policemen sets out in pursuit, chasing the four-legged culprit through a series of real exterior and studio-interior locations (1,2). When the dog arrives at the foot of a real apartment building (3), the film playfully combines the chase film with the trick film. A cut switches to a painted facsimile of the building façade that’s actually lying horizontally on the studio floor; shot from an overhead camera, the dog appears to be scaling the face of the building in defiance of the laws of gravity (4); the same truc effect allows the policemen to scale the wall after him (5). To cap off its spoof of petty authority run amok, the film climaxes with the dog chasing the cops all the way back to the police station, where they run inside and bolt the door behind them (6).

Back to CHAPTER 6/Part 3