The Max Linder Collection (1917-1922) (2014) – By Duane L. Martin

Max Linder’s name may not be as instantly recognizable as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplain or Harold Lloyd, yet his silent film comedies inspired all three, and many more besides. Chaplain even referrered to him as the great master. Now Kino Lorber has released a collection of four gorgeously and painstakingly restored American films from the French born actor and have released it as The Max Linder Collection.

Here are the films included in this collection:

The Three Must-Get-Theres (1922) – A spoof on The Three Musketeers, this film finds our hero being sent out by his father to make his way in the world, only to run into a lot more trouble than he ever expected.

Be My Wife (1921) – Max has his heart set on marrying his long time sweetheart, but her nosy and prudish aunt has other ideas. She wants her neice to marry another man who’s also vying for her affections, so Max must come up with elaborate plan to get the girl, but will it work?

Seven Years Bad Luck (1921) – After Max breaks a mirror, he has nothing but bad luck. Is he doomed to suffer for the next seven years, or will his luck change?

Max Wants a Divorce (1917) – When his uncle dies and leaves him millions on the condition that he not be married, newly married Max convinces his complete pain of a wife to give him a divorce so he can collect the money, after which he promises her that they can be married again. In order to secure the divorce, they come up with a plan for him to be caught with another woman, but will her jealousy cost them a fortune?

This collection was restored by a company called Lobster Films, and I have to say that they did an unbelievable job on cleaning up these great old films. I mean, for the most part they all look just absolutely pristine, and it’s wonderful to see, because so many of these wonderful films have been lost due to age and deterioration. Those who do this type of restoration aren’t just preserving the films, but they’re preserving our history and culture as well.

I’ve heard Max Linder’s name here and there in the past, but this was the first time I’d actually seen any of his films. Why they aren’t as shocking as some of Buster Keaton’s work, the stories are very entertaining. Max Wants a Divorce in particular will have you shaking your head, not because of him, but because of the girl who plays his wife. She’s such a pain you’ll wonder why he even married her in the first place, which is where most of the humor comes from in this short, 27 minute film.

Seven Years Bad Luck includes the earliest film version of the two man mirror gag, where two people on opposite sides of a mirror frame mimick what each other are doing. I don’t know how long the gag existed before that or if he pioneered it, but it was very entertaining to watch and quite well done.

This is a wonderful collection of beautifully restored films, and if you’re a fan of silent comedy, then it’s one you’ll definitely want to add to your collection. If you weren’t familiar with the work of Max Linder before, pick yourself up a copy of this collection and get familiar with it. You won’t be sorry.

If you’d like to find out more about this release, you can check out its page on the Kino Lorber website here.