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Why a WebBlog?
«The Magic Behind Comedy»

The question is inevitable:
In this WebBlog, we will endeavor 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 this great comedians and clowns isn't in their gags, but simply in them.

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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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Synopsis

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 a 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 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.

Coming Soon:

A film teaser «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)

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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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© 2022 Oliver Matthias Meyer · Contact

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