Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Cure for Pokeritis (USA,1912)

John Bunny was one of first comedy stars of American cinema. The comedies he made to Vitagraph studios (a pioneer cinema studio in the United States) together with English actress Flora Finch stood out due to their sophistication compared with other comedies of the era, being the forerunner of situational comedies, like those Hal Roach studios made so extensively in 1920s. Considering that situational comedies were not so common back to 1910s and that slapstick was more widely produced, those “Bunny-Finch” comedies were even ahead of their time.
The husband plays poker quite often and loses equally often. As expected, the place where he played is a quite masculine environment, with men smoking cigars and elegantly dressed. No women is seen there.
In the next scene Flora Finch (who plays the role of gambler’s wife) is seen in a living room with very beautiful furniture. The husband returns home and the wife seems really annoyed. Upon careful inspection of the house where the couple lived, the furniture and objects we can see that they were relatively well off people.
Considering how annoyed the wife was, the husband swore he would never play again, but even the audience could see that it would not really last. The husband soon finds an excuse to leave home, so he could play poker again without his wife realizing it. And the gambling starts all over again. However, while he sleeps he inadvertently starts talking and his plan of hiding his poker habit of his wife goes down the drain. But the wife also has her own plans, with the assistance of her cousin.
Then, the wives of all gamblers gather together and a poker meeting of the guys is suddenly disrupted.
Although the acting of cast is reasonably naturalistic, we can see some vestiges of stage acting, like exaggerated gestures or facial expressions in some scenes. Such stagy acting was already a bit outdated even in 1910s and would soon be replaced by fully naturalistic acting, like those of Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford.

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