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  • The supposed humor of this gender-bender farce from Pathé, "Le Ménage Dranem," literally translated as "The Dranem Household," of the disorder of a wife abusing her husband being resolved by him hitting her instead is, safe to say, dated. The irony, perhaps, is that this genre in movies was likely invented by the world's first female filmmaker, Alice Guy, with her "The Consequences of Feminism" (1906) for Gaumont. In 1912 and since running the Solax studio, she remade it as "In the Year 2000" (1912, and now a lost film), which I suppose was quite on the mark as far as futuristic predictions go, of traditional gender roles being largely dismantled, at least in the West. While Guy was at Gaumont, Pathé was particularly willing to steal her scenarios for their own twin films. I suspect, then, that it's hardly a coincidence that Guy remade her satirical critique of feminism not long before Pathé released this title about a wife going out for a day of smoking, drinking and gambling while the husband stays home to sweep, wash dishes and mend socks. Hardy har har, that's the job of the other sex, is basically the joke, which I suppose, if the intent was that women coded as masculine was intended as an offense, qualifies the film as part of the prank-punitive early cinema genre extending back to the Lumière film "L'Arroseur Arrosé" (1895).

    Another gender-swap piece of slapstick dated around the same time and co-directed by a woman that comes to mind is "A Florida Enchantment" (1914), which was directed by the duo that tellingly went by "Mr. And Mrs. Sidney Drew." Also, for the Pordenone Silent Festival, "Le Ménage Dranem" opens for "Phil-for-Short" (1919), which looks like it will be part of a four-disc set entitled "Cinema's First Nasty Women," to be released by Kino Lorber in 2022. Sounds like a fine addition, with an emphasis on the depiction of women on screen that may among other things give a greater sense of how popular such films as this one were, to the "Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers," also from Kino Lorber, and "Early Women Filmmakers: An International Anthology," available from Flicker Alley, sets.

    Otherwise, one may see how well continuity editing had developed by 1912-1913, including here a keyhole POV shot, some crosscutting, a trucking shot following the wife's bicycling and even the thematic motif bookending the picture of domestic violence.