Few things are more surreal than looking through a 100-year-old movie magazine only to see a title like this staring up at you! One of many, many, many lost films, In the Year 2014 (1914) was a split-reel comedy meant to be enjoyed for a day or two and then replaced by the next comedy.
Motography, Nov. 7 1914
It was also one of many, many, many Joker comedies from a time when little films were “ground out like sausages,” as the saying often went. Joker, the slapstick branch of the Universal Film Manufacturing Company, was created to compete with Keystone comedies. Its films are thought to have been slapdash and silly–“thought,” because unfortunately the majority of them are lost. The titles will fill you with longing: Love, Roses and Trousers, At the Bingville Booster’s Barbecue, The Mechanical Man, and one of my favorites, Lady Baffles and Detective Duck in the Great Egg Robbery.
And if the longing wasn’t bad enough, the stills always look like so much fun.
April 15 marked the anniversary of one of history’s most infamous maritime disasters: the sinking of the Titanic. As anyone who is a) alive, and b) awake knows, this disaster has been the focus of quite a few films, from James Cameron’s (first) record-breaking 1997 blockbuster to A Night to Remember (1958). It’s even been the setting of a staggeringly crappy animated movie, Titanic: The Legend Goes On (2000). (You may want to wash your eyes with holy water after seeing a few clips. It stinks worse than nitrate rot. It rips off so many Disney movies that Charlie Chaplin imitator Charlie Aplin would shout “By the gods, have you no shame?!”)
But there’s one film that holds the crown of being the very first to set the plot at the Titanic disaster. You could even call it the first fictional film to basically capitalize on it: Saved From The Titanic, which was released a mere month after the ship touched the bottom of the frigid Atlantic.