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Why a WebBlog?
«The Magic Behind Comedy»

The question is inevitable:
In this WebBlog, we will endeavour to keep the laughter element ringing!

"The oddest thing about this whole funny business is that the public really wants to laugh. But it's the hardest thing to make them do it!"

(Harry Langdon)

What makes great comedians like «Charlie Chaplin», «Buster Keaton», «Harold Lloyd«, «Harry Langdon» and «Laurel & Hardy», just to name some of the pioneers in film-comedy and clowns and comedians like «Dan Leno» «Les Fratellini« brothers, «Pipo & Rhum», «Petit Gougou», «Charlie Rivel», «Max Wall» «Grock», «Andreff«, «Dimitri» and to this day Clown «Gaston» so funny? They have a special appeal which goes beyond mere laughter. It isn't just their comedy that makes them so captivating. The special magic of all these great comedians and clowns isn't in their gags, but simply in them.

The Grock Archives

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The documentary heritage treasured by FilmArts «The Grock Archives» comes from the estate of Max van Embden (Grocks stage partner 1895-1988) and from the private archive of Jérôme Medrano (1907-1998), director of Paris's legendary "Cirque Medrano” and from many different collections that were united by circus and clown passionate Oliver Matthias Meyer for the publications of the Grock picture biography «Grock - Seltsamer als die Wahrheit»
(© 2006 ArtsEdition Zürich ISBN 978-3-9522638-1-5).

Over time, more documents have been added gradually from collectors and well-known photographers like Gotthard Schuh, Christian Staub, René Burri, 'Izis' Bidermannas, Pierre Dannes, Lothar Jeck, Willi und Hermann Eidenbenz, Milou Steiner, Camille Bombois, Paul Perrenoud with original photo prints and purchases at auctions. Due to its great variety, all the documents featured in the unique Grock Archives aim to preserve the history of clown Grock (Adrian Wettach 1880 - 1959).

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Scope and Choice

The “The Grock Archives" inventory is divided into the aesthetic relevance of the photographs and their documentary significance. The private archive stores more than 2'500 original photographs, original negatives, vintage original posters, postcards, and newspaper clippings. Among these objects are various objects like handwritten music notes by Grock (Adrian Wettach) and negatives and photo-prints made by Grock himself, the handwritten manuscript "J'étais l'ombre d'un clown" («Im Schatten eines Clowns») from stage partner Max van Embden with interesting background history, original lithograph from Luc-Albert Moreau "Music Hall" and shellac 78 records and unreleased film footage.

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All the precious documents from The "Grock Archives" are currently being curated and catalogued for exchange of documents for exhibitions, sale and long-term storage in circus or state archives.

Original photographs and documents are in accordance with the archive regulations and available for scientific and journalistic purposes at the location in Zürich/Switzerland.

Use of material

Reproduction by printing or electronic or mechanical copying is only allowed with the written authorization of FilmArts Filmproductions Zurich/Switzerland. Reproduction of
(and part of) this website with the aim of publication or exploitation is not permitted. References to the use of and quotes from this website need to mention the collection
"The Grock Archives".

Archive Digitalisation

Only part - but not all of it - of the materials has been digitalised and catalogued. We are constantly working on the digitalisation and new publications of the material. The work of the digitalisation of the materials is the result of your donations: If you want to support us
with a donation, please contact us.

Further info: mail@filmarts.ch

© ArtsEdition Zurich/Switzerland

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FilmArts · The Grock Archives ©

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Grock - Son Premier film

Directed by Jean Kemm (1926)

The Lost "Comedie Bourlesque" with Grock

Grock's first feature film

During Grock's guest performance in a revue at the "Palace" theatre in Paris in 1926, he was offered the leading role in a cinema film by French producer Jaques Haik. The 1920s were the heyday of comic films in the U.S., England, France and Germany. On both sides of the Atlantic, French comedian and movie star Max Linder had long since conquered the screen with clever situations and often bizarre gags. Grock, like Charles Chaplin, was enthusiastic about Linder's films. The offer from Jaques Haik came only a year after Max Linder's tragic death and was at just the right time in Grock's turbulent career.
The screenplay for this silent movie with the simple title «Grock - Son premier film» is an attempt to place Grock (real name Charles Adrien Wettach) in a vehicle whose storyline and plot leave room for him intermittently to perform or interpolate physical business. Written and directed by Jean Kemm, then film is very well made, there are few "Chaplinesque" moment of pathos and a number of plot manoeuvres that propel Grock through the thin storyline, written around Grock's great fame as a musical clown. The film was also released in England, Australia and parts of the U.S.

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This silent film, known in English as «Grock - What For?» (a Grock catchphrase) tells the crazy story of provincial French street artiste Céleste Noménoé (Grock) who performs his tricks with the aid of a small monkey. Céleste lives his Bohemian life in a desolate dwelling. One day the postman brings him a letter - the first in his life - from a notary, asking him to come to Paris to receive a legacy from his cousin. The inexperienced Céleste - dressed like a dandy with a straw hat, jacket and tie, carrying an overlarge suitcase and with his little dog on a leash - strolls through the urban jungle of Paris. Soon he loses his orientation, and of course also his belongings; his suitcase with the address of the notary is stolen by two crooks on the street. By accident, Céleste attracts the attention of a film director who discovers the stranger as a new talent for his film studios.

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He is costumed as a harem guard on an oriental film set, where they are shooting a scene with erotic dancers. Among the extras, Céleste notices the man who stole his suitcase. There follows a wild chase through the film studio, allowing Grock to display his talents for leaps in the air, somersaults and other artistic skills as Céleste retrieves his suitcase, which fortunately contains the notary's address.
On the reading the will, the legacy turns out to be a lottery ticket that is yet to be drawn. With the ticket in hand, Céleste rushes to the lottery draw. As the first numbers match his ticket and Céleste, very happy waits impatiently for the jackpot prize; but when it is drawn, his joyful face twists into anger as he misses it on the final number!

(Text: Oliver Matthias Meyer)

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FilmArts - The Grock Archives: Keeper of Grock's artistic heritage

'The Grock Archives': Conservation, preservation and communication of the cultural heritage of Clown «Grock» and contemporary clowns and comedians.

Film-Restoration Project:

The silent movie «Grock - What For?» will be restored and edited from a private English archive copy.
The Original film print «Grock - Son Premier Film» is kept at the 'Centre national du cinéma' CNC in Paris - Bois d'Arcy (France) and the English version «Grock - What For?» at the "Library of Congress", Washington (USA)
Sections of the film are kept at the 'British Film Institute' BFI in London (UK) The rights of the "Archives Jacques Haik" are at 'Films Régent' in Paris (F)

Fit My Video Tag

In preparation:
Exhibition «Grockesque!»
Clown Grock & his absurd contemporaries.

An experience with pictures, funny stories, Grock's silent movie with live music performance and surprises!

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© 2024 Oliver Matthias Meyer · Contact

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