Monday, February 8, 2016

Plagues and Puppy Love (USA,1917)

Actor Larry Semon was a famous silent comedian with a pretty distinctive style. His films had the style of cartoons, with a plenty of chases (often involving more than one means of transportation) and special effects. The cartoon influence is no coincidence, as Semon used to be a cartoonist and graphic artist prior to his career in films. His films also had elaborate sceneries and a good edition work stringing the gags together.
In the first scene we see a rather cute girl walking her dog in a unusual way, which gives a funny touch to the scene. Then, there is a man with a big fake beard behind her. The girl rejects the man and keeps walking (running, actually). She sits on a outdoors bench and the man sits besides her. Then she realizes there was already another man sitting on the bench and she does not get happy about it.
All of a sudden, it appears a man who was behind the bushes and this third man also sits on the bench. Apparently, the girl had a plenty of prospective suitors, although all of them seemed to bore her to death. As if it was not enough to have three suitors, a fourth man shows up. He was a policeman and got to kick out all the other men, but he did not please the girl either and ended up being bitten by her dog.
After a short time, Larry appears and she seems to like him very much. Even her dog was very pleased to see Larry. While the policeman confronted Larry, the other three suitors showed up again. Larry managed to kick out the policeman and in this very scene we can see a special effect similar to those of cartoons that is very typical of films by actor Larry Semon.
But the other suitors do not give up and here they are again. Anyway, the dog was able to get rid of them this time, although the dog was really tiny. Judging by the speed and fear of those men we could think they were running from a lion or any other wild animal.
Larry had problems with some kids, who tie up the dog with some balloons as a revenge. Consequently, the dog ended up flying away. All other suitors show up once more and the girl promises her “hand and fortune” to the man who gets to save her dog. This generates a chase involving all characters of the film, who tried to save the dog as fast as they could.
The dog finally landed safely in the hands of his owner, then Larry goes away with the girl in a balloon, together with the dog. The other suitors try to prevent them from leaving, but it is useless. 

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