I found a 1907 Gaumont Film Company catalog online. This catalog would have been useful when I was writing my recent "Stuck!" article. A number of films included in the catalog are about people getting stuck on something or getting something stuck on them. Take, for instance, A New Toboggan. A man goes tobogganing down a flight of stairs and ends up landing inside a barrel. As a crowd of people gather to investigate the commotion, they find that the man's backside has become stuck inside the barrel.
Then, we have In an Armchair, which involves a man who becomes stuck in a narrow armchair. The man leaves his apartment to get help, but he remains trapped in the chair's tight grip as he tumbles down a flight of stairs.
L'homme aimanté (The Magnetized Man) features a pair of police officers who become magnetized and find themselves stuck together.
The last film in this category is a glue comedy, The Soldier's Helmet. A mischievous boy applies a generous amount of glue to the inside of a soldier's helmet. As expected, this creates a problem for the soldier once he puts on the helmet. The remainder of the plot is explained as follows:
"About to retire, he finds that his helmet is glued to his head and that the united efforts of himself and his companions fail to remove it. Finding that he cannot get it off, he goes to bed with it on. The officer of the watch appears on his tour of inspection and, seeing the soldier sleeping with helmet on, demands the reason, which is given. . . [S]eeing the plight the soldier is in, he orders the guard to remove it but they also fail. Finding all efforts in vain, he orders the man to the hospital. . . [The doctor] is about to operate on the man, who vigorously objects, and as an after-thought the doctor orders his assistant to go out and fetch him a fireman. He orders the man to stand before the hose, which is vigorously played upon the helmet. It becomes soddened and the glue softens. It falls off, to the great relief of the soldier and the eternal glory of the doctor."
I found a non-sticky film in the catalog that I thought was interesting. The film, The Electric Belt, involves medical science gone awry. A wife is determined to help her husband with his lumbago. A doctor assures her that the cure is an electric belt that he has specially designed. The woman promptly buys the belt and sews it into the lining of her husband's coat. As soon as her husband dons the coat, he is transformed from a man who is bent over in pain to a man who is jumping and prancing. He also becomes extremely amorous, kissing every woman that he meets. The police arrest the man for being a public nuisance. He is stripped of his coat before being placed in a jail cell and he now returns to being a sick, bent man. A police sergeant mistakenly grabs the coat from a rack and he no sooner puts it on then he becomes seized with the fidgets and attempts to kiss a woman. When he removes the coat, he becomes calm and normal again. Next, the coat is stolen by a tramp, who upsets a push cart in his attempt to caress the female proprietor. You need to keep in mind that this is just a movie. I would not recommend sticking a fork into an electrical socket to bring yourself to sexual arousal. This is the reason that they always tell you, "Do not try this at home."
This reminds me of something that happened to me several years ago. I ordered this Fast Abs belt that I saw on television. They refer to the belt as an "electronic massager" and claim it can work off fat. Don't believe it. I got the package in the mail. The package was so small and light that I couldn't imagine it had anything inside. But I reached deep down into the box and managed to dig out a few things - a plastic battery case the size of a cigarette lighter, a pair of lithium batteries, a nylon strip with Velcro at either end, a tube of gel, and a nylon buckle lined with foil. The device looked like it cost two cents to make. I foolishly put on the belt even though I had no confidence that it would work. I no sooner installed the batteries then I got the goddamnedest shock of my life! It ends up that's all this device does is shock the person dumb enough to put it on. They explain in the instructions that it delivers an electrical current into your body to stimulate blood and tissue. Yeah, right, it stimulates a whole lot of stuff when you're getting electrocuted. Sorry, my friends, I was not interested. If I was in the mood for some electrical stimulation, I would have paid a dominatrix to attach wires from my toaster to my nipples. I went back to the original ad and didn't see anything about getting juiced.
I have a better product for dieters. I got the inspiration for this product when I had to move furniture into my kitchen in preparation of a carpet cleaning. Having to squeeze past a table and chairs to get to my refrigerator deterred me from eating much food that day. It occurred to me that I could lose a few pounds if I left these items in the kitchen for the next week. I even thought that I might be able to make money by marketing something like this to dieters. I am sure that my kitchen barricade could help more fat people than the Fast Abs belt.
In the meantime, people will continue to laugh at people getting into sticky situations.