See the moving  
Picture

Figure 7.17

What’s So Funny about the Crime-and-Chase Movie?

Maniac Chase

Edwin S. Porter, Edison Manufacturing Co., USA, 1904

Edison’s rendition is a direct remake of an earlier Biograph film, The Escaped Lunatic (1903). Biograph had copyrighted its films as photographs, but when it sued Edison for infringement in 1904, the courts ruled that copyright protection extended only to the actual image, not to the story or its subject matter. Biograph then began copyrighting its films as both photographs and dramatic productions. Unlike The Great Train Robbery (1903—see Chapter 5.2), which restricts its chase opportunity to one shot, The Escaped Lunatic and Maniac Chase make the most of the formula popularized by such British imports as Daring Daylight Burglary (1903—see Chapter 5.2). The story concerns an inmate in a lunatic asylum who believes that he’s Napoleon. “Napoleon” breaks out of his cell, and the middle frame here is from the extended sequence in which he leads his keepers on a merry chase through nearby exterior locations, including a forest and a rocky streambed that recalls a similar scene in Burglary. Combining the comic chase with the British crime-and-chase film, both Biograph and Edison ensure a “diversity of appeals” by grafting one genre onto another.

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