Max Linder Made Pathe’ Film

Max Linder (1883-1925) built the Pathe’ Film Studio in the early 1900s. Linder’s comedy influenced Charles Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. Linder is largely unknown today because his biggest film successes were in the 1910s.  Most of his films are considered lost.

Film fans today have the benefit of resources like the Internet Archive, which has a number of public domain films. Most, if not all of Linder’s films, fall into this category. I viewed seven of Linder’s films through the archive. I would recommend the following films to discover Linder’s genius for yourself.


Photo of Max Linder from 1912 – In the public domain

Linder’s films are definitely star vehicles – films highlighting the abilities of the starring actor. Linder uses slapstick bits to highlight his physical abilities.

The Little Vixens (Petite Rosse, 1909)is the story of Max attempting to win the heart of a young lady.   She tells him she will only marry him if he learns how to juggle. It is relatively short at 6 and a half minutes long. It is also the earliest starring role I can find for him.

A Farm-house Romance (Un Idylle a la ferme, 1912)sees Max’s uncle telling Max he is tired of Max’s lazy habits. He tells him to marry a local farmer’s daughter or be kicked out. Max reluctantly goes courting and deals with the scheming sisters. This film is slightly under 9 minutes.

Max and His Mother-In-Law (Max et sa belle-mere, 1914) concerns Max trying to get rid of his mother-in-law.  She will not leave him alone and travels with Max and his wife on their honeymoon to the Swiss Alps. It is the longest film at 24 minutes or so.

Linder was important for two reason. First, he pioneered the slapstick comedy movement. Slapstick comedy centers on the comedian falling, getting struck by blows and other objects as well as other mildly violent acts for the purpose of getting a laugh. Besides the actors listed above, the Three Stooges and even Lucille Ball owe their livelihood to Linder’s early efforts.

Second, Linder’s character Max was the most popular film character in pre-World War I France. His popularity resulted in Pathe’ films becoming one of the largest film companies in the world. Until Louis Feuillade began directing films for Gaumont Pictures, Pathe’ was the only world wide French film company.

Today, Linder is pretty much forgotten. Charles Chaplin, who patterned his character after Max Linder’s alter ego, is much more popular. Chaplin even dedicated a film to Linder after his untimely death from suicide at 41 years of age in 1925.

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