Translation of: Una entrevista con Max Linder, CARAS Y CARETAS, 12. Apr. 1913
An Interview with Max Linder
Who hasn't heard of Max Linder? His face, his gestures, attitudes, have travelled the world over, from the big city to the most ignored village, and from powerful king to peasant, all have laughed at his film adventures. But being so well known from his popularity, there are few who know about his past life, his present life, when the artistic personality comes to live at the same time thanks to the cinema in thousands of places on earth. CARAS Y CARETAS can now reveal some intimate details. The funny actor has spoken with our correspondent in Paris, Mr. Javier Bueno.
I urged CARAS Y CARETAS several times to let me carry out the mission to tell the readers who he is, who he was, and how Max Linder lives.
One time, the famous actor was making a film in Switzerland in the Alps, another time in Spain he was making a film titled «Max Linder, toreador» afterwards going to England, then to Egypt ... I finally managed to find him in his cosy little apartment on the Quai d'Orsay only recently decorated from the profits of his work in pictures, risky, risky …
When I arrived at his home, I was received by an old maid. I went into the dining room of the famous movie actor in charge of the house Pathé's film projection … „You know the saying, - being pulled under a train and left crushed like a wafer. I bend like paper, and I get into the portfolio ... "If I didn't know this was the home of a movie actor, I could have mistaken it for an asylum. Because in reality, film people are mad and the grotesque is so much elevated above the mushy sentimentality and melodrama. But Max Linder cultivates the mockery of life with cartoonish grin of inimitable grace.
Max Linder appeared at the door and invited me in.
— At last we meet, — I said, stretching out my hand and smiling.
We went into a cosy little office, furnished in bright English style.
Once seated, he asks:
— Well, and how I can help you?
— I want you to tell CARAS Y CARETAS, the magazine of Buenos Aires, your intimate life story.
- If that interests you, I was born in Bordeaux. As a kid I was neither worse nor better than the average. I studied at several schools, getting good grades, but I had to put up with a lot. I didn't like science or history but only literature, which was closest to my dreams, interested my. I was especially happy if a textbook at the school contained a piece of comedy of drama. Not only did I memorize it, but I recited scenes in front of my classmates and teachers with so much passion that my classmates broke into applause. As I grew older my love for the theater grew also and at sixteen I already had worked with several amateur companies when I finally decided to talk with my father about my plan to dedicate myself to the theater. My father was strongly opposed and thus I left the parental home and came to Paris. Here I did quite badly, only thanks to a friend of my family did I manage to find, after some month, a job with a monthly salary of 125 francs. My father refused to send me a cent because he tried to defer me from my intentions.
Max Linder writing his autograph for CARAS Y CARETAS, and the autograph of the famous actor.
After a year's stay in Paris I had the opportunity to meet with Le Bargy, who as you know is a big fan of fencing. He knew my hobby was the theater so I proposed, that he give me lessons in diction in return for me giving him lessons in fencing. Shortly thereafter, I was part of the company acting in the Theatre Variétés to replace the first actor, who was ill. I was successful and became a regular member of the troupe. The actor I had replaced was the director of the company and didn't stop bothering with my success until I left. Then I was in several theaters of Paris and the provinces, and by that time I did movies. As at that time working for the cinema was frowned upon, however I did everything I could to not only be recognized, but the public observed certain gestures, certain attitudes of me, and so, before knowing my name I was christened with a nickname in each country. Coinciding with the rare movies that I was in then, I worked in the “music hall” until I finally devoted myself entirely to the film. When the greatest figures of the theater decided to put their names in advertisements for the films, I set mine, and because the public already knew me from when I worked anonymously I was popular worldwide in a short time. I made a revolution in the comedy film, because when I started the films were hardly five hundred feet, and I'm writing one that will have a thousand meters, a comedy in three acts whose comic author and main actor I am. Because I have to tell you, I think, organize and execute all movies in which I appear. Today I have my life not only assured, but thanks to the house Pathé, I can have an annual income of not less than 300,000 francs. In a few days I'm going to Budapest with a fifteen-performances contract 'four' thousand francs for each performance. Then I go to St. Petersburg, where I have a contract to appear.
Max Linder left the room and soon returned with a case, whose compartments were full of bank notes.
— Here you are, — he said to me, showing me a paper — fifty percent of the gross receipts of the theater, a benefit and a representation before the imperial family.
By varying the subject:
— How did you come to fight in Barcelona? — I asked.
— Upon arrival in Barcelona I did not expect to find an audience so kind, because newspapers had published articles unfavorable to me. But the opposite happened, I had never done anything that deserved cheers in Barcelona. So I wanted to show the public my thanks. How to achieve this? I came to kill a bull, that is, the making of the comedy film begins in Paris where I get a call to go to Barcelona to replace a bullfighter and ends with my winning in the square. This film is already finished, but I do not want it to be released until I go to Barcelona, because I want to give the public of that city the first fruits.
— Do you think about going to America?
— Yes, I would like to go, especially to Argentina, to Buenos Aires, but until now, proposed contracts have not yet been agreed upon.
— How old are you?
— Thirty years.
— Are you married?
— No single, but no desire to marry, just because I'm tired of living alone. Now it is very difficult for me to find a woman to my taste. For the kind of life that I am living, I can not visit lounges where I could find the woman I seek; if I was not an artist in the scene living among theater people.
— Why can you not visit lounges?
— Because it is that I can not stay up late and mundane meetings are usually at night and at about seven o'clock I get up to my work,.
— Do you love sport?
— Very much, I'm a good fencer as I told before, good yacht race pilot, I have won several races and many cups with my own boat, skateboards, skis, jumps, horse, car and even the airplane until I can handle everything, and then you can do all kinds of films. In
Max Linder fencer.
Madrid I had a terrible fall that could have cost me my life, a bitter memory of a lot of other good memories that I have of that city.
— Do you know the magazine CARAS Y CARETAS.
Yes, I bought it when you, representing them, announced that you come to visit me; it is a great magazine.
— Do you want to write a few lines to your readers?
— With pleasure.
Javier Bueno, CARAS Y CARETAS correspondent in Paris, talking with Max Linder in his office.
And while Max Linder wrote and signed, the objective caught him.
Max Linder had an appointment with a theater company in Paris that will work throughout the coming winter.
He got to have lunch in a small dining room, light, cheerful and decorated to Breton taste. Photographer active again and said goodbye.
The photographs illustrating this information will help readers to get to know this famous farandulero if my writing would not have done what I intended.
(Caras y Caretas, 12.4.1913)
Note: More than twelve years later the journalist Javier Bueno looks back on this interview in his obituary on Max Linder „¿Cómo era Max Linder?“, published in "Blanco y negro", Nov. 22, 1925.