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  Frame enlargement: Silent Era image collection.
(1904) American
B&W : 371 feet
Directed by Wallace McCutcheon

Cast: (unknown)

American Mutoscope & Biograph Company production; distributed by American Mutoscope & Biograph Company. / Cinematography by G.W. Bitzer. / © 29 June 1904 by American Mutoscope & Biograph Company [H47623]. Released 8 August 1904. / [?] Mutoscope 68mm spherical 1.36:1 format? / The production was shot on 8 and 13 June 1904. This chase comedy was remade by Edison Manufacturing Company as How a French Nobleman Got a Wife Through the New York Herald Personal Columns (1904) and subsequently by Lubin Manufacturing Company as Meet Me at the Fountain (1904).


Synopsis: [Biograph Bulletin, Number 28, 15 August 1904, page ?] “PERSONAL — Young French gentleman, recently arrived in this country, desires to meet handsome American girl; object matrimony. Will be at Grant’s Tomb at 10 this morning, wearing boutonniere of violets.” Alphonse, after inserting this advertisement in the Herald, hies himself in his best apparel to Grant’s Tomb, Riverside Drive, New York City, there to meet a fair and financially favored American girl if one shows up. He arrives a little ahead of time, but not too early for an ambitious widow, who, with her small daughter, is parading the beat on the lookout for the Frenchman. Alphonse sees her however and nimbly sidesteps, only to be confronted by another fair creature. To her he makes his best obeisance, but has hardly time to introduce himself when another girl claims her attention. In an instant they are on him from all sides. No matter which way he attempts to dodge he is confronted by a determined female. Before he realizes what he is up against he is in the midst of a crowd of husky American girls, in danger of being torn limb from limb. In frantic fear he breaks through the line and starts away on a dead run. In the next scene we see the desperate man leaving Grant’s Tomb in the distance at a 10-second clip, with a cloud of flying petticoats in close pursuit. The chase then develops through successive scenes, each one screamingly funny, and there is always the little fat short-breathed woman who gets left and finishes a bad last. Across the country the chase goes. At one time down a steep embankment, where several of the girls slip and “bump the bumps.” The professor in the orchestra plays a solo on the bass drum when this happens, and the audience shouts with laughter. In one of the successive scenes the fat girl gets stuck in a rail fence, in another she almost falls off a plank across a stream. A neat little lady with white stockings also attracts attention as she lifts her fluffy skirts and chases the Frenchman. Human endurance has a limit, and the Frenchman at last gives out. Breathless and exhausted he takes refuge in a clump of bushes. But fate has overtaken him. One fleet-footed Diana discovers him, and drawing a revolver from her shopping bag she holds him and claims him for her own. There is nothing for the poor fellow to do but to yield gracefully. The other girls come straggling in, but realizing that the game has been bagged, they extend their congratulations. The whole troup then starts off for the nearest Justice of the Peace. No film produced up to this time has had the success of “PERSONAL.” It has run longer in the Keith houses than any other film of any make has ever run, and it is booked for a return over the entire circuit. It makes the moving picture turn the headliner of a programme.

Survival status: Print exists in the Library of Congress film archive (paper print collection) [35mm paper positive].

Current rights holder: Public domain.

Keywords: Chases - USA: New Jersey (Edgewater, Paterson) - USA: New York: New York: Riverside Park: Grant’s Tomb

Listing updated: 4 May 2012.

References: Film viewing : Leyda-Before pp. 42, 115; Musser-Before p. 13; Musser-Emerge p. 4; Niver-Early p. 247; Niver-First pp. 57-60, 76, 77; Robinson-Palace p. 122; Sklar-Movie p. 29.

Home video: DVD.

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