Friday, September 12, 2014


I wrote in Eighteen Comedians of Silent Film about a 1915 Pathé Frères comedy, Max's Double (released originally in France as Le Sosie).  The film involves Max Linder struggling to outdo a lookalike who is trying to take over his life.  A Bioscope critic thought that the plot was so chilling that it was justified to describe the film as "a dramatic farce."  It is not surprising that the doppelganger usurper has gone through a dark and disturbing history in the horror genre (See 1913's The Student of Prague or 1970's The Man Who Haunted Himself).  But the slyly funny elements of Max's Double can be traced decades earlier to Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 1846 novella The Double.  A new film adaptation of The Double, which was directed by comedian Richard Ayoade, was recently released on DVD.

The plot of Enemy (2014) also includes elements of The Double.

The Man Who Haunted Himself was adapted from a 1957 novel by Anthony Armstrong.

"The Strange Case of Mr Pelham" was made into an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents that originally aired December 4, 1955.

Fans of The Playhouse (1921) and Being John Malkovich (1999) should also be interested to know that the idea of a man being plagued by multiple clones is something that also turned up in The Double.  The book's protagonist, Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, is finally pushed over the edge when further doubles show up at a party.  Dostoyevsky wrote, "[I]t seemed to him that an infinite multitude, an unending series of precisely similar Golyadkins were noisily bursting in at every door of the room. . ."

A bit of housekeeping is necessary today.  I have added brief footnotes to four previous articles.

A more extensive update is provided for the following article:

A clip of Max Linder performing a popular handshake routine was added to the following article:

No comments:

Post a Comment