GenreShort, Comedy DistributorUniversal Studios CountryUnited States
English intertitles Release dateAugust 16, 1913 (1913-08-16) GenresSilent film, Short Film, Comedy, Black-and-white Similar moviesLon Chaney appears in Poor Jakes Demise and The Unknown
Poor Jake's Demise is a 1913 American silent short slapstick comedy film directed by Allen Curtis and featuring Max Asher and Lon Chaney. The slapstick film focuses on Jake who finds his wife in a compromising position with another man and later takes his revenge with a seltzer bottle. It is one of several slapstick comedy films Chaney made for Universal at the start of his career and is also his first credited screen role. The film was presumed lost, but a fragment of the film was discovered in England in May 2006 and restored.
Jake comes home and finds his wife and Willy Mollycoddle in a compromising position. Enraged, Jake throws Willy out of the house and scolds his wife and threatens to kill himself. Fearful that Jake will commit suicide, the wife calls the police and three officers are sent out to find Jake. Stopping at a bar before he commits suicide, Jake finds Willy who is drowning his sorrows. Jake takes his revenge on Willy with a seltzer bottle.
Max Asher as Jake Schultz
Daisy Small as Mrs. Schultz
Lon Chaney as The Dude
Louise Fazenda as Servant
Poor Jake's Demise was directed by Allen Curtis and produced by Independent Moving Pictures Company (IMP) and distributed by Universal Film Manufacturing Company. The screenplay author was not credited. The film is notable for having been the first billed appearance of Lon Chaney and perhaps the debut of Louise Fazenda.
Release and reception
The film was released on August 16, 1913 and had viewings in Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Illinois. A contemporary review of the film in Moving Picture World described it as "simply horse play without any special appeal, though it is harmless and lacks vulgarity."
The film was presumed lost, but a fragment of the film was discovered in England in May 2006. It has since been restored by the Haghefilm Laboratory of Amsterdam and Lobster Films, Paris. The restored fragment is 7 minutes and 52 seconds long. In 2006, the film was shown at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival. The film would also be shown at the 31st Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival on the evening of March 19, 2011.
In 1957, an article by Jim Neal of the Denton Record-Chronicle cited this as the first of Lon Chaney's films. Don G. Smith's book, Lon Chaney, Jr.: Horror Film Star, 1906-1973, also claims this film as Chaney's first. Rosemary Guiley would also refer to this claim in The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters. Chronologically, this is the first released film with a confirmed credit for Chaney and also the first billed release. According to Blake, Chaney did not appear in The Honor of the Family or The Ways of Fate, two earlier films sometimes credited to him.