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Dada Ripoff: One of the pieces shown at the Tate was a silent movie called Entr'acte. We saw a still from the movie in an early room of the exhibit, and were promised thrills, spills, and a scene where Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray are playing chess on a balcony when the chess board is swept away by a sudden jet of water. Classic gag! I looked forward to seeing this movie.

Well, they did screen the movie at the exhibit, and fortunately, Entr'acte predates Steamboat Willie, so you can download it and watch it yourself. Lots of art films on that site, actually. Like all art films it goes on way too long, but it's got some fun stop-motion and visual jokes, and an ending you'd expect from a Warner Brothers cartoon. But the water scene is disappointing.

The scene, let's say, starts at 4:30. There they are, playing chess. Now they're arguing. Perfect moment to squirt them with water! But no! First the jet of water is shown in a separate shot, totally telegraphing the joke, then we cut back to Duchamp and Ray arguing, then back to the water. Around 5:01 the gag, tattered as it is by now, is executed. The water hits the chessboard but Duchamp and Ray aren't in the shot! They didn't want to get their suits wet or something. C'mon guys! Comedy is not when a chessboard falls and breaks its leg! Also, to say that the chessboard is "swept away" is a gross exaggeration.

[Comments] (1) Hmm.: Hmm. HMM.


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