Translation of: El Hombre que sabe comer Macarrones, Cine-Mundial, Jul. 1921
The man who knows to eat Macaroni
By GUILLERMO J. REILLY
SINCE that my sensitivity was soothing enough to allow me to appreciate and love artistic things, I felt a powerful desire to meet a man who could eat macaroni. I do not mean just eat macaroni on the level of gastronomic sense, of a species that embroiders with crocheted macaroni an argument, swallowing and gesticulating like crazy, while discussing the super-beauty of "II Piccolo Marat" in step with a frying fork, a tablespoon of soup and the clinking and bubbling of a glass and a bottle of Chianti.
My man has to be an artist in the field. One who uses the Italian national dish, like a true sculptor uses the clay, to play with him, he cheats, he talks, and with sweet tenderness, as a lover, who was long absent, and like a shrew, that will enthuse him, enrage him, electrify him, upset him with cold indifference, suddenly makes him wince. . . and eat it.
Linder, accompanied by Reilly, studies the
fashions page of the CINE-MUNDIAL
And I finally ran into The Man Knowing To Eat Macaroni, and I present to you: Monsieur Max Linder, to whom have been made many praises of multiple attributes that decorate him, but not for his gentle art to swallow macaroni, whose discovery I am heavily proud of. For who, in fact, has discovered Max Linder? Modestly I pause to answer this self-inquiry. Myself. We were having lunch in episodes, with commentary, subtitles and all, in the "Café des Beaux Arts" and after peeling by hand and teeth every lamb chops, Mr. Linder stepped into the climax of the drama with the episode of macaroni. And the faith that the rolls contained an episode! But as I have said, the long, winding ropes were for Max, as for the sculptor the clay, or as the obedient keys of a piano for Paderewski. The sculpture has been called don't know by whom "frozen music." The macaroni, in the hands of Max Linder, in form and action, was a slow waltz, a busy San Vito a moody jazz or feverish tango, sometimes feverish, then sleepy.
Someday, when I have more brain than money, I will establish a professorship of eating macaroni at my University. And if a lectorship is not enough, I will also present a dining room, and cutlery without a knife. Nothing shall preclude my high purposes.
And as for the aforementioned San Vito (shimmy), we must leave herein immortalized, in honour of the Terpsichore, the fact that Max Linder knows more of the trembling dance than all texts ever written. In his latest comedy, "Be my wife," he was about to be yoked into the wedding carriage with the favorite of his heart. When the priest was about to pronounce the sentence of eternal slavery, the despised rival enters the scene, and he launches a surly white mouse who chose the pants of Mr. Linder as a safe compound and began the ascent to the waist. And here began the San Vito. If the masters of the shimmy from the Zulu tribes had seen Max Linder beat his shivering feet to the ears and from head to toe as he did on that occasion, he would undoubtedly have been elected true danseur of the Tribe, with pension of hundred wives with three rings in the nose.
In the "Café des Beaux Arts" Mr. Linder gave me another dance story where he recently danced in Los Angeles. It was at a banquet in his honor that Charles Chaplin gave when Max started to come to New York. Charlie had one of those famous orchestras brava (jazz band). There were twelve guests at the banquet, including May Collins, Maurice Tourneur and other authors and stars. Each had to do a "dance solo" to the beat of the music that he wanted the orchestra playing. Charlie danced to the beat of a classical slow step with changes of the regulation, and when it was the turn of Max, he found himself before the work to dance to the sound of flute, moved, convoluted and untimely Spring Song.
Then he ordered each of the actors present to put in scene an original charade. Max started the program with a charade titled "The Invisible Fear" which was supposed to happen in "The Suicide Club", worthy institution, which is pleased to announce that, any lying dogs who wanted to commit suicide and lacked courage to do, could come to the rescue of their partners, ensuring that no return traverse of the Club's thresholds in other way, that is not stiff as any corpse, is respected. The alleged scene of the "suicide" in the secret chambers of the Club was so rowdy, there was much shouting of the suicides, that Max lost his clear voice and was left toneless all night. Chaplin responded with a scene between a drunk and his wife. The wife was a shrew, but tonight her bacchanal husband felt as Samson, who had the audacity to decide to spend the night in the marital home. He took off his coat, and his wife was to keep it in the closet, opened the door, looked at the bottom of the wardrobe, and fell back to the ground, stretched and unconscious. Astonished at this and trying to figure out what vision might have caused his wife's dismay, Chaplin went to the closet to investigate the matter personally. He, too, glimpses in the back of the wardrobe, and as stiff as it was upon his wife. . . and. . . Curtain. When Chaplin was asked what was the title of pantomime, scratched his neck a few seconds and he replied: "Mystery". .
Max celebrated his own short story of the party with uproarious laughter. The French mimic thinks very highly of Chaplin. While in Los Angeles, Max and Charlie became good friends. Linder shows the silk shirt cuffs some yoke of platinum, Chaplin had given him when Max started to come to New York.
—I will challenge the winner of the fight between Carp-
entier and Dempsey—says Max to Reilly.
—Charlie Chaplin is an artist - he said. - I think it is the greatest artist of the screen.
I told Mr. Linder I thought that the mouse incident in his last film was great comical success.
—In the film - said Max - the part where the mouse goes legs up was this long (and Linder averaged his hands half a meter apart) but had to work eight days to film and does encourage the struggle to execute its role appropriately. We had to use two thousand feet of celluloid to shoot that scene. The public does not realize the ups and downs suffered by a producer, the extremes it reaches sometimes, the money and patience that you spend to achieve making them smile or mourn. "Be my wife" is a five reel film, five thousand feet in total and, in order to make it, you spent 180,000 feet of film.
—And the public also has no idea of the rough work that requires the making of a comedy of five reels. Two reels are easy, five reels are an ordeal. If I try to keep the issue in action through the five reels, critics exclaim: "Oh, yes, that is plot, but not funny by any means." If the comic I say, "Oh, yes, that's very funny, but everything becomes ugly faces, jokes and tricks".
—Mr. Linder - I said to him - You should have for brain a factory of mockery and jokes when possible, after making 360 comedies, producing one with such grace, freshness and novelty, like the comical San Vito of the mouse and boxing with his wife in "Be my wife".
—That's not worth it - said Max. - In the past, before the war, never wrote a scenario. Plotting issues overnight and the next day put them on stage. Sometimes forgetting something, but that was rare event.
Max Linder is one of those "firsts" characters. He was the "first" who made funny movies. He was the "first" who suggested to the French War Ministry the idea of maintaining a library of war "on film". The idea, rejected at first by Joffre, was later accepted and implemented. Max was the "first" to be affected by poison gas on the battlefield. For his gallantry with a body armored car, he was referred to the Cross of the Legion of Honor, Affected by gases, he retreated to his home, and as soon as he regained his health, he was commissioned by the French government and sent to Italy to conduct a propaganda campaign pro-ally in that country. And on one occasion, the President of the Italian Cabinet, from his box in a theater in Rome, praised the patriotism, courage and art of Max Linder before the audience and thanked him on behalf of the Allies by the efficiency of his work for Italy.
Since his last visit to this country, Mr. Linder has filmed "Seven years of bad luck" and "Be my wife" comedies that have achieved huge successes. Within a month he will return to France, to continue his production schedule.
—Before leaving the United States - he said to me - I will take on the winner of the tournament Dempsey-Carpentier.
Look at the photographs that decorate this interview and you will have the honor of meeting Max Linder, one of the best comedians in the world and guzzling champion of macaroni. (Cine Mundial, July 1921)