The Mystery of the Leaping Fish
|The Mystery of the Leaping Fish|
Reissue theatrical poster
|Directed by||John Emerson|
|Written by||Tod Browning
Anita Loos (titles)
|Cinematography||John W. Leezer|
|Distributed by||Triangle Film Corporation|
|Running time||25 minutes|
The Mystery of the Leaping Fish is a 1916 American short silent comedy film starring Douglas Fairbanks and Bessie Love. The film was directed by John Emerson, and is based on a story written by Tod Browning. Anita Loos wrote the film's intertitles.
In this unusually broad comedy for Fairbanks, the acrobatic leading man plays "Coke Ennyday," a cocaine-shooting detective parody of Sherlock Holmes (a self-injecting cocaine addict in Arthur Conan Doyle's 1890 novel The Sign of Four) given to injecting himself with cocaine from a bandolier of syringes worn across his chest and liberally helping himself to the contents of a hatbox-sized round container of white powder labeled "COCAINE" on his desk.
Fairbanks otherwise lampoons Sherlock Holmes with checkered detective hat, coat, and even car, along with the aforementioned propensity for injecting cocaine whenever he feels momentarily down, then laughing with delight. In addition to observing visitors at his door on what appears to be a closed-circuit television referred to in the title cards as his "scientific periscope," a clock-like sign on the wall reminds him to choose between "EATS, DRINKS, SLEEPS, and DOPE".
The film displays a lighthearted and comic attitude toward Coke Ennyday's use of cocaine and laudanum (a tincture of opium), but condemns the act of smuggling opium which is done by Asian gang members in the film.
- Douglas Fairbanks ... Coke Ennyday
- Bessie Love ... The Little Fish Blower
- Alma Rubens ... His Female Accomplice
- Allan Sears ... Gent Rolling in Wealth (billed as A.D. Sears)
- Charles Stevens ... Japanese Accomplice
- Tom Wilson ... Police Chief I.M. Keene
- George Hall ... Japanese Accomplice (uncredited)
- William Lowery ... Gang leader (uncredited)
- Joe Murphy ... Footman on vehicle (uncredited)
- B.F. Zeidman ... Scenario editor (uncredited)
Running a total of 25 minutes, the film was initially shot by Christy Cabanne who was later fired from the production. John Emerson was hired and re-shot the film with the help of Tod Browning.
The film was a departure for Fairbanks due to the subject matter and the fact that he generally appeared in feature films, not two-reelers. The Mystery of Leaping Fish was the second film Fairbanks did with director John Emerson, their first being His Picture in the Papers (released in February 1916) which was a hit.
While The Mystery of Leaping Fish is now considered something of a cult film due its comic dealings of drug use, Fairbanks hated the film and reportedly wanted to have it withdrawn from circulation.
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- The Mystery of the Leaping Fish at the Internet Movie Database
- The Mystery of the Leaping Fish is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]