Undercrank Productions, producers of the Accidentally Preserved and Musty Suffer series have also made The Marcel Perez Collection, a tribute to a little-known silent-era comedian. One reason he was little known is that he went by a variety of names in a variety of places.
Perez was probably born in Spain and began appearing in films for Pathé Frères in France. In 1910, he signed with Ambrosio Films in Turino, Italy. The first set of films includes five films he made for Ambrosio. He played a character called Robinet. The movies are fun and Perez shows a nice goofy quality. "Robinet's White Suit" works a nice series of variations on an old gag. After Italy entered World War One in 1915, Perez went to America and starred in films and directed there. This was unusual because most people who starred in film comedies in Europe did not succeed when they moved to America.
Perez did very well, appearing under a variety of character names including Bungles, Tweedledum, Twee-Dee and Dweedledum. The second set of films includes five American movies that Perez directed and starred in. He plays a hayseed in "A Bathtub Elopment," but more urban characters in the others. In "A Busy Night" he plays most of the characters. Some films are missing footage, but we are lucky to see what is there. The whole first reel is missing from "Camouflage," but what survives is great fun. It does include some blackface.
Ben Model's accompaniment is impeccable.
The set was published with an accompanying book by Steve Massa, Marcel Perez: The International Mirth-Maker. It examines what we know about the complicated life of Perez. I enjoyed the movies and the book.
|Moving Picture World, 14-October-1916|