FIGURE 8.10

The Pursuit of Laughs

The Lost Child

Wallace McCutcheon (?), American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., USA, 1904

The kidnapping film, in which a stolen child is rescued from some member of a suspect social group (often a gypsy), was particularly popular in Europe. In Biograph’s Americanized rendition, a mother, believing that her baby’s been snatched by a basket-wielding passerby, enlists the services of a motley posse of onlookers (and one policeman) to pursue the suspect. The basket turns out to be a guinea pig’s bed, while the missing child is discovered back home (in the dog house). Either the crime-chase movie is being given a comic twist or an old gag is being given a little visual panache through the special properties of the motion picture.

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