Described as the “King of Comedy," Mack Sennett (1880–1960) began his movie career at the Biograph Studio in New York, under the management of D. W. Griffith. Between 1908 and 1911 Sennett was involved there as an actor and director on nearly 300 little-known films before moving on to the Keystone Studios in California. As Josh’s Suicide nicely demonstrates—unlike the legendary “slapstick” comedies he created in the late 1910s and the 1920s—Sennett's Biograph films, which the Museum is currently engaged in restoring, are largely situation comedies. Disturbed that his social-climbing country wife isn’t interested in him, Josh writes a phony “suicide note” and leaves home for a sightseeing holiday in the city as a single man, not realizing his spouse is in pursuit. Shot on location in New York City, the film features glimpses of Pennsylvania Station and Grant’s Tomb before the action climaxes with an open-top bus ride on Fifth Avenue that offers views of the Plaza Hotel and the New York Public Library at 42nd Street.
Josh’s Suicide. 1911. USA. Directed by Mack Sennett. Silent, with music by Ben Model. 7 min.
This presentation is part of an ongoing series that makes film and video works from MoMA’s collection available online.