Feature Drama | 1900 | Sound | B/W
American film made in 1904 and with later added voice-overs and titles. Short story of wealthy widow tricked by young salesman on the make. Light, nostalgic tone but warnings about state of American society, worries about crossing of social divisions and behaviour of women so morality tale and sexism abounds ! The perils of the holiday romance.
Popular organ or dance tune reveals the giddy goings-on at a beach resort in 1904'. A group of women dressed in full skirts and blouses with puffed sleeves some wearing hats sit around gossiping on a porch. The voice-over tells us this is the 'good old summertime', then announces disapprovingly the appearance of Claude, who walks through the porch in a suit and boater passing his luggage and tennis racket to another man. The women giggle, excited by his appearance and the voice-over wonders 'who will be the lucky girl?'
As the women watch a car pulls up alongside the porch. It is open-topped with two rows of high seats, high wheels and lamp headlights; the voice-over describes it as 'the latest sports roadster'. The man who has been driving climbs out and helps two women in hats and veils out of a door in the middle of the back seat; the voice adopts an instructive tone; 'in those days even the cars had a family entrance'. The 'merry widow' climbs from the front of the car wearing a white dress and a tie.
Claude is now shown surrounded by women who are offering him drinks the voice-over jokes that this will be a busy weekend and it’s a good job he brought his mandolin. The next shot is of the widow on the beach with Claude who is dragging a wooden canoe towards the sea. She wears a sailor-style dress down to her knees which the voice-over comments is 'a little daring but nice'. Montage; one of the women on the balcony watches through binoculars and the voice-over imagines she is saying 'hey girls, the widow's pulled a fast one'. Claude and the widow are then shown in the water some distance from the floating canoe; the voice-over tells us that 'she is drowning but he's sunk (morally), just another American tragedy'. Claude hauls the limp body of the widow towards the shore. He could be taken for a lifeguard. Apparently the widow recovers from this, as in the next scene she is sitting with Claude who slides a ring onto her finger; she looks delighted and they kiss as the voice-over explains that Claude has 'hooked the wealthy widow by pretending to be a big fish from Bismark'
More music and a title tells us three months have passed and 'Claude; the big fish, turned out to be a sardine'
A shop with a man at a counter in front of shelves of boxes and packages. In the corner a girl in a short dress folds material; a sign says 'today 1s (?) only'. Two women look at things on the counter, the voice-over tells us these are the Apple sisters and that the man at the ribbon counter is Claude himself; 'wait till the widow finds out'. The widow enters immediately, sees Claude and collapses. As she falls the voice-over tells us that the moral of the story is not to flirt in the summer 'unless you are prepared for the fall'.
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