“Tomorrow at the Max Linder: The Unimaginable Made Real!”
Gorgeous pen and ink drawings — artist unknown — adorn the ad mats for Son of Frankenstein (1939), playing at the storied Max Linder cinema in Paris.
The vertical ad, at left, reads, “Today (at the) Max Linder… An Extraordinary Film”. The ad below lists the players as “Basil Rathbone, the Duke of Gisbourne in “Robin Hood”. Boris Karloff, the Monster. Bela Lugosi, the Vampire of “Dracula”. Lionel Atwill, the star of “Masks of Wax” (the French title to “The Mystery of the Wax Museum)”. The blurb promises, “What you can’t imagine… What you’ve never seen… What you’ve never experienced!”
Max Linder, who gave his name to this movie house, was the world’s first movie comic superstar. Charlie Chaplin called him “The Master” and copied many of his routines. In fact, Chaplin’s Little Tramp character was created as an exact opposite to Linder’s urbane Max character.
Linder was a tragic genius, given to bouts of crippling depression. Lured to Hollywood, his American-made films were not successful. Disappointed, Linder returned to Paris in 1914 where he indulged in an old dream of his, to own a movie house. He bought the sumptuous, 1200-seat Kosmorama, built two years previous, and renamed it the Max Linder Ciné. Unfortunately, because he held no rights them, he was unable to show his own classic films.
By the early 20’s, Linder had sold the theater to other interests, but the famous name stuck. The theater would change hands again, first to Pathé, and eventually to the powerful Siritzky circuit, under who’s guidance the Max Linder would become one of the most popular movie houses in a city renowned for its many grand cinemas.
Max Linder died in 1925, victim to a suicide pact with his young wife. It was their second attempt at it.
The Max Linder was renovated in 1952, and again in 1984. It is still in operation today.
Images courtesy of Jean-Claude Michel.