See the moving picture

FIGURE 8.9

The Pursuit of Matrimonial Happiness

How a French Nobleman Got a Wife through the New York “Herald” Personal Columns

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

As is evident from Shots 2 through 4, the comic chase played an important role in developing the technique of directing action along the camera axis, from the rear- to the foreground of a three-dimensional frame. As we note in Chapter 5.2, however, the shot remains the primary vehicle of the spectacle: as in Biograph’s Personal (see Figure 5.18), which was made earlier in the same year, each shot functions as a miniature comic interlude that reveals some titillating glimpse of one of the women in pursuit of the hero. Biograph sued Edison for copyright infringement but was unsuccessful, and the idea of a man being pursued by a horde of would-be brides that he’s summoned through a newspaper “Personal” column survived to be plagiarized on many another day. Before the year was out, Lubin 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 Selig Polyscope) gave the premise a Western twist in The Matinee Idol.

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