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Stewart Linder

Stewart Linder

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Also Known As: Stu Linder Died:
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The first true comic genius of the screen, Max Linder was a star before Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd had ever heard of the motion picture. The wealthy, French-born Linder had little luck in the legitimate theater because of his height (5'2") and his inability to buckle under to directors' instructions. He entered films in 1905, signed by Charles Pathe to make a series of comedies. Within two years, he developed the screen character that made him famous worldwide: Max, the dapper boulevardier, unflappably romantic. Linder starred in and directed some 360 one-reel comedies over the next eight years, with such self-explanatory titles as "Max Takes a Bath," "Max's Duel," "Max on Skis" and "Max and His Dog."The Linder comedies, unlike the frenetic slapstick of Sennett and Chaplin, were clever, well-plotted and often moving little playlets, with a French daring and often incorporating experimental camera techniques. The handsome, dashing Linder's height didn't inhibit his screen career, and he became something of a heartthrob. He was at the height of his fame when WWI broke out. Linder enlisted early, and was seriously wounded three times. Shell-shocked, his emotional and physical health shattered, Linder was...

The first true comic genius of the screen, Max Linder was a star before Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd had ever heard of the motion picture. The wealthy, French-born Linder had little luck in the legitimate theater because of his height (5'2") and his inability to buckle under to directors' instructions. He entered films in 1905, signed by Charles Pathe to make a series of comedies. Within two years, he developed the screen character that made him famous worldwide: Max, the dapper boulevardier, unflappably romantic. Linder starred in and directed some 360 one-reel comedies over the next eight years, with such self-explanatory titles as "Max Takes a Bath," "Max's Duel," "Max on Skis" and "Max and His Dog."

The Linder comedies, unlike the frenetic slapstick of Sennett and Chaplin, were clever, well-plotted and often moving little playlets, with a French daring and often incorporating experimental camera techniques. The handsome, dashing Linder's height didn't inhibit his screen career, and he became something of a heartthrob. He was at the height of his fame when WWI broke out. Linder enlisted early, and was seriously wounded three times. Shell-shocked, his emotional and physical health shattered, Linder was never the same.

A 1917 trip to America resulted in three Essanay films, "Max Comes Across," "Max Wants a Divorce" and "Max and His Taxi." During a second American trip, Linder made two of his best-known comedies, "Seven Years Bad Luck" (1919, incorporating the famous "mirror" gag later used by the Marx brothers and others), and his absurdist Douglas Fairbanks parody, "The Three Must-Get-There's" (1922).

Still fragile, Linder returned to France and made his last few films: the dark comedy "Au secours!/Help!" (1924) and Abel Gance's "The King of the Circus" (1925). While filming "Le Chevalier barclas," Linder checked into a Paris hotel with his young wife and baby daughter. The elder Linder died in a suicide pact (though Mrs. Linder's enthusiasm for the act was never made clear). Their daughter, Maud, grew up to rescue her father's films and make the documentary "The Man in the Silk Hat" (1983), preserving his work for posterity.

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