Linder, Max

   Actor, director, and screenwriter. Born Gabriel Maximilien Leuvielle in 1883, Max Linder, as he would be known onscreen, was attracted to theater from a young age. He began to seriously study theater at the age of seventeen and then went to Bordeaux to become an actor. In 1904, he moved to Paris where he became a star of the Parisian theater and of the café-concerts. Because of his connection to other theater and café-concert performers and managers turned cinema pioneers (Ferdinand Zecca, Gaston Velle, and Lucien Nonguet among them) Linder was hired on at Pathé in 1905. He was already something of a star at that time, since he was one of the more popular of the Parisian performers. In fact, he was unwilling to fully commit to cinema at first, acting by day for Pathé under the assumed name Max Linder, and continuing live performances at night under his real name. However, it was in cinema that Linder would truly become a star, in many ways the first film star, with one of the first truly developed and recognizable characters in cinema, the eponymous Max, and by 1908, Linder was working so much at Pathé he was forced to give up the theater altogether.
   The character of Max was not an immediate creation at Pathé. Linder's first films, mostly under the direction of Louis J. Gasnier, featured him in various comic roles, although the elements of Max, the look of the refined gentleman, the comedy that derives from a combination of bad luck and hedonism, are there. Linder's first credited role in La Première sortie d'un collégien (1905) already contained some of these elements, which were no doubt holdovers from his live performances in the café-concerts. These comedic traits or signatures become progressively more evident in the early films such as Le Pendu (1906) and Idée d'Apache (1906). The character Max, a dandy in a top hat and a bit of a cad, made his debut in the 1907 film Les Débuts d'un patineur. Between 1907 and 1916, Linder would be a constant presence on the screen, both in France and abroad, making him one of the first truly international film stars. Among the most celebrated of his Max films are La Très moutarde (1908), En bombe (1910), Max fait du ski (1910), Les Débuts du Max au cinéma (1910), Max dans les Alpes (1910), Max prend un bain (1910), Max a trouvé une fiancée (1910), Champion de boxe (1911),Max a un duel (1911),Max lance la mode (1912), Bandit par amour (1912), Une nuit agitée (1912), Max et les femmes (1912), Max toreador (1913), Max professeur de tango (1913), Max fait de la photographie (1913), Max et la statue (1913), N'embrassez pas votre bonne (1914), La Médaille de sauvetage (1914), Max et sa belle-mère (1914), L'Idiot qui se croit Max (1914), Le Sosie (1915), and Max et l'espion (1916).
   While Linder's Max was undoubtedly the best known and one of the most influential of the comic characters of the silent-film era, he was not the first. André Deed's Boirieau and Roméo Bosetti's Roméo had both already appeared in film before Linder arrived on the scene, as it were. However, both Boireau and Roméo remain fairly two-dimensional. Both are representative of "the fool" type character typically found in common burlesque, and both lack the distinctive character traits that made Max so memorable. Moreover, there is a move toward subtlety and sophistication of performance in Linder's comic performances, a differentiation between what is needed onstage and what onscreen. It is this comic subtlety, no doubt, that would influence later screen comics, such as Charlie Chaplin, and it is completely absent from the performances of either Deed or Bosetti.
   During the same period, Linder made a number of other films in which he did not appear as Max and sometimes did not even perform a comic role. Many of these films also rank among the classics of silent film. These include La Légende de Polichinelle (1907) under the direction of Albert Capellani, Un drame à Seville (1907) under the direction of André Heuzé, C'est Papa qui a pris la purge (1907) under the direction of Louis Feuillade, Le Voleur mondain (1909) in which Linder incarnates Arsène Lupin, gentleman thief, Le Serment d'un Prince (1910), and Le Petit café (1919). During the same period,
   Linder moved from simply acting in films to writing and directing as well, and from 1911 on, he would write and/or direct many of the films in which he appeared.
   If the early part of Linder's career seemed to unfold like a fairy tale, the latter part played out more like a tragedy. In 1914, at the height of his career, Linder was called to the front to fight in World War I. Early in his tour of duty, he was involved in a gas and shrapnel attack in which he nearly died. He was dismissed from the army and sent home, where he managed to recover, but not fully. He was plagued from that point on with chronic health problems and depression.
   Linder, who was determined to be a truly international star, was never quite able to break into the American market. Hollywood by that time was the center of the film world (in part due to the war in Europe). Linder made two very unsuccessful attempts to break into the U.S. market, the first in 1916, during which time he signed a contract with Chicago-based Essaney Studios (where Chaplin had been filming) to make a series of films. Linder made only three,Max in a Taxi (1916), Max Comes Across (1917), and Max Wants a Divorce (1917). With the success of these three much less than hoped for, and Linder's health in crisis, he returned to France without the big break he had looked for.
   Linder's second attempt came in 1921. After grappling with the realization that the interruption in his career caused by the war had severely jeopardized his popularity in France, Linder again sought to relocate to Hollywood. He again made three films, Be My Wife (1921), Seven Years'Bad Luck (1922), and The Three Must Get Theirs (1922), a spoof on the Three Musketeers. While the films were successful, they did not lead to a contract, as Linder had hoped. His health was again deteriorating, and he had to return to France unable to enjoy the success of those films.
   Linder recovered again and made every effort to continue his career. He made Au Secours with Abel Gance in 1924, but a series of disputes between the two meant the film was not released. In 1925, presumably depressed over his declining health and failing career, Max Linder committed suicide with his nineteen-year-old wife. The two left behind a daughter, Maude Max Linder.
   From the time of his death until the present, Max Linder was more or less forgotten. His comic style had influenced Chaplin (who called him "the professor") and his jokes and storylines had been recycled by everyone from Chaplin to the Marx Brothers. Yet no one even remembered that he had existed. The recent release of some of his films on video and DVD has, to some degree, counteracted the effects of this public amnesia, as has the growing scholarly interest in silent film. Still, with so much time elapsed between the glory days and the present, it is likely we will never fully appreciate what a star Linder was in his prime.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • LINDER, MAX — (originally Gabriel Maximillien Leuvielle; 1883–1925), French silent movie comedy star. Linder was born in Saint Loubès to a family of vintners. His first film was Première Sortie d un Collegién (1905); thereafter he turned out perhaps one film… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Linder, Max — (1883 1925)    Actor, director, and screenwriter. Born Gabriel Maximilien Leuvielle in 1883, Max Linder, as he would be known onscreen, was attracted to theater from a young age. He began to seriously study theater at the age of seventeen and… …   Guide to cinema

  • Linder, Max — (Gabriel Leuvielle / December 16, 1883, Saint Loubes, Gironde, France November 1, 1925, Paris, France)    The son of wine growers, he dropped out of high school to attend acting courses at the Bordeaux Conservatory and start a theatrical career.… …   Encyclopedia of French film directors

  • Linder, Max — (1883 1925) (Gabriel Maximilien Leuvielle)    actor, film producer    Max Linder (the stage name of Gabriel Maximilien Leuvielle) was born in Saint Loubès, Gironde. His style, finesse, mischievousness, and playfulness made him a precursor of the… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Linder, Max — • ЛИ НДЕР (Linder) Макс (наст. имя и фам. Габриель Максимилиан Лёвьель, Leuvielle) (16.12.1883 30.10.1925)    франц. актёр. Учился в консерватории в Бордо. Играл в парижских т рах чАмбигю комик и Варьете . С 1905 снимался в ф. фирмы Пате ( Первый …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Linder, Max — pseud. di Leuvielle, Gabriel Maximilien …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Linder, Max (Leuvielle, Gabriel) — (1882 1925)    French comedian. Born in Bordeaux he initially spent three years with a Bordeaux repertory company. Later he acted on the stage in Paris. From 1905 he worked at the Pathe studios where he stared in his own series of comedies.… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Max Linder — Born Gabriel Maximilien Leuvielle December 16, 1883(1883 12 16) Saint Loubès, Gironde, France Died October 31, 1925( …   Wikipedia

  • Max Linder pratique tous les sports — Max pratique tous les sports est un court métrage français muet réalisé par Max Linder en 1913. Sommaire 1 Résumé 2 Fiche technique 3 Distribution 4 Lien …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Max collectionneur de chaussures — est un court métrage muet réalisé par Max Linder en 1913. Sommaire 1 Résumé 2 Fiche technique 3 Distribution 4 …   Wikipédia en Français

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