Hydrothérapie fantastique (The Doctor’s Secret). 1908. France. Directed by Georges Méliès. 35mm. Silent, with musical accompaniment. Approx. 9 min.
Georges Méliès, a French prestidigitator who made innumerable films between 1866 and 1914, combined with a Rabelaisian sense of humor a gift for making films and for imagining new kinds of machinery. Both are apparent in this early film, somewhat clinical for present taste but, nevertheless, abounding in imagery and invention the equal of any modern painter’s.
Gertie the Dinosaur. 1914. USA. Directed and animated by Winsor McCay. 35mm. Silent, with musical accompaniment. Approx. 12 min.
Before either photography or the film were invented, children flipping over between thumb and finger little booklets of outline drawings had seen animated pictures. Years later, it was one of these flippers or magic booklets that inspired Winsor McCay, famous newspaper cartoonist and creator of the comic strip Little Nemo, to experiment with animated film cartoons.
His Bitter Pill. 1916. USA. Directed by Fred Fishback. With Ella Haines, Edgar Kennedy, Mack Swain. 16mm. Silent, with musical accompaniment. Approx. 20 min.
Since nothing was sacred to Mack Sennett and his studio full of irreverent comedians, a skit on the Western film was hardly to be resisted. His Bitter Pill is apparently a genuine Western, complete with heroic sheriff, villain, robbery and hard riding: it is seen through an ingeniously distorted lens and the values are unerringly overemphasized or misplaced. The subtitles are pure mockery.
The Sex Life of the Polyp. 1928. USA. Directed by Thomas Chalmers. With Robert Benchley. DCP. 11 min. (Sound – no live accompaniment)
This mock-lecture was one of the first talking films to be recorded. Not for long afterwards did anyone else achieve so much naturalness or so ably grasp the intimately humorous or dramatic possibilities of screen-dialogue.
Where: The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2 at the Museum of Modern Art
11 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019
Nearest Subway: 5 Ave/53 St on M/V, 57 St on F, 47-50 Sts on B/D/F/M
Admission: $12 ($10 for senior citizens, $8 for students / free for children under 16 & Museum members)
Admission to the day’s film program is free for Museum ticket holders, but separate screening tickets are required. A film admission ticket does not include admission to the Museum galleries. The price of a film admission ticket may be applied toward the price of a Museum admission ticket or MoMA membership within 30 days.