#65 – Vélo du diable (Devil’s Bicycle, The)

(1920, Fr, 27 min, b/w) Dir Patrice Vasqueaux.

Friendly postman Alain kisses his wife good day and makes to leave for his rounds on his bicycle but upon leaving his house finds, in dismay, that it has been stolen. Thankfully a passing bicycle selling gypsy offers him an astonishing discount for a new one which Alain can’t help but take. The salesman – it is revealed to us once Alain is gone – is none other than Beelzebub himself and the bicycle he sold Alain is demonically possessed. Poor Alain soon finds himself flying through the countryside at a terrifying speed, flinging his letters left and right as he vainly tries to do his job regardless and setting into motion all kinds of catastrophes. Due to a Rube Goldbergian confluence of events spurred by a flying parcel the devil gets his comeuppance by the end. The ingenuity of the filmmakers in realising the hilarious accidents caused by the careering postman is to be applauded. Though never mentioned by the man, this was undoubtedly an influence on a young Jacques Tati (in particular, of course, on his short film L’École des facteurs) and it’s a miracle to have survived in the pristine condition in which I saw it.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

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