The Landlady

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 1, 2015

A-B-A. Man comes to a door to inquire, kids come to the same door to ring and run, man returns to re-inquire and gets hit by a bucket of water meant for the kids. Very simple, and very nicely done! The adults gesticulate like Italians, except that they do so in the French manner. We tend to ascribe it to over-acting, but the gestural excesses of very early film can also be read as authentic records of cultural body languages.

The kids look a lot more natural than the gesticulating adults do, which illustrates another basic, Jean Renoir-over-Fritz Lang lesson from film history. Nature is tough to direct or contain, but when you give nature its head, you may end up recording something special. I like the excessive crowd that comes to laugh at the end. We’ve seen Edison actors straining with this same assignment. Not so here. They’re having fun!