[Robert Macaire et Bertrand]



[Robert Macaire et Bertrand, les rois des cambrioleurs]

Robert Macaire and Bertrand

1. The Sneak-Thieves’ Inn.-Robert Macaire and his faithful pal, Bertrand, have been resting for a few minutes in a small restaurant. From the attractive menu they have ordered, after much hesitation, a nickel’s worth of cheese and a bottle of wine. After their modest repast they are temporarily left alone, so they take a “sneak,” carrying off everything on the table including the cloth.

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The waitress discovers their theft, and gives the alarm. Immediately four policemen rush in, and as soon as they find out what has happened they dart off in pursuit of the thieves. Thus begins an intensely spirited chase, full of thrilling incidents and amusing situations.

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2. The International Bank.-Hotly pursued by the officers, the two fellows arrive in front of the main entrance of the International Bank. To force the doors and enter the place is only a bit of a pastime for them; and the police follow immediately there after and invade the bank.

3. The Interior of the Bank.-Hardly have our heroes entered the offices of the bank when they attack the massive vaults. The strong door is opened and the sacks of gold pass from their snug berth into the capacious pockets of the two miscreants. They hear a noise, and then take to flight through a transom, but manage, however, to empty the vaults before escaping. What remains of the sacks Robert Macaire hastily throws to Bertrand. The police arrive just in time to behold Robert Macaire’s foot disappearing through the window; they rush on through the same opening.

4. Behind the Scenes.-Peculiarly, the window through which the criminals have escaped opens upon the stage of a theatre, behind the scenes. They arrive in the midst of a performance. A trap-door is near, through which they vanish. When the police come in, they butt against the sceneshifters who are busily at work. They all tumble over one another and are generally mixed up in the scenery. The police finally find the trap-door and disappear.

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5. The Costume Room.-The place where Robert Macaire and Bertrand have landed is the room where the costumes of the actors are kept. An inspiration comes to them. They quickly remove their clothes and put on some suits which disguise them as tourists.

6. A Statue as an Accomplice.-Then they cross a garden and hide their own clothes behind a statue, and here they hope to return at some future time then when the police are not so busy.

7. The Railway Station.-A train enters the station where many passengers are gathered. The porters with baggage bump against the excited travelers so that confusion reigns generally. Just as the train is about to draw out from the platform, Robert Macaire and Bertrand put in their appearance. It seems to be too late; they are going to miss the train and be captured by the police. No, they dart forward, they grab hold of the last car and hang on for dear life. As the train moves away the police show up; they gaze at the outgoing cars in disgust and bewilderment. But their determination to run down these bold thieves is as great as the desire of the latter to escape arrest. So the officers charter a special locomotive without any coach attached in order that they may have the greatest possible speed; they mount the engine hobby-horse fashion and start on as fast as the machine can carry them.

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8. A Small Way-Station.-The train pulls up before a small station in the country. As the men have no tickets nor money, they have a struggle with the employees of the company when they alight. They finally extricate themselves and get out. The police, on their special locomotive, come in immediately afterwards. In revenge, the station hands point out the direction in which the criminals have fled, and thus the merry chase is resumed.

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9. A Terrific Earth-quake.-Robert Macaire and Bertrand reach the square of the village just as the first effects from an earthquake are felt. They hide under a stairway while the pursuing officers have bricks, tiles and blinds toppled upon their heads. The latter move on in a wrong direction; they begin to show the effects from fatigue of this furious chase.

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10. The Market-Place.-The terrible convulsions from the earthquake continue. Market baskets are tipped over; the walls of buildings oscillate; the steeple of the church falls with a crash amidst the excited populace who take refuge in flight.

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11. Hurled into the Clouds.-Just as the thieves are forces to desert the house where they have hidden themselves, a deafening explosion takes place. Both are hurled with dazzling rapidity into the air.

12. Planted on the Roofs.-On, on they go above the surface of the earth. They grab hold of buildings and trees in their course, but so great is the force of their velocity that nothing can hold them. But finally a chimney-top resists their impetus, and they cling to it with encircling arms while they rest their feet upon the roof.

13. The Police Always on the Trail.-Meanwhile the police have also been projected into the air. In spite of the rage of the elements, they remain faithful to their duty and keep up their pursuit.

14. Foiled Again.-Robert Macaire and Bertrand have succeeded in finding the stairway of the house against which they had been hurled. They rush out of the building, hotly pursued by the tenants. At this moment, the police unfortunately tumble from the sky right upon the enraged occupants of the house as they emerge from the doorway, chasing the sprightly thieves. A rough-and-tumble encounter follows, enlivened by some ludicrous episodes.

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15. Played Out!.-Robert Macaire and Bertrand have got back to the statue where they had hidden their clothes, which they find all intact. They pick them up and go away. The pursuers now put in an appearance. They lose track of the objects of their quest. With tired heads, tongues hanging out of their mouths, drops of sweat on hands and faces, and dragging their feet, these baffled officers decide to return to their barracks and “face the music.” They confess that they have been outwitted.

16. The Farm.-At last worn out from exertion, Robert Macaire and Bertrand having eluded the police, reach a farmyard where they hop that they will have a little time for rest. They lie down in the straw of the grange and doze off. Their pursuers arrive, in turn, at this hospitable house; one of these latter removes his hat and cloak and hangs it upon a rack, and then he rejoins his comrades.

17. The Murder of the Dummy.-Bertrand awakes, and in the darkness mistakes the hat and cloak upon the rack for one of his late pursuers. Fortifying himself, he clutches his knife; with fixed eyes he advances toward his supposed enemy and punctures him with dagger thrusts.

18. the Death of the Two Heroes.-Robert Macaire and the police have been attracted by the noise, and all make their appearance. An officer fires his gun, Robert Macaire falls. A blow from a sabre finishes Bertrand who, whirling around, falls across the body of his pal. It was necessary to use force to secure these thieves, yet the police could not help shedding a tear over the bodies of the two knaves who had put up such a lively chase.

19. Resurrection.-Hardly have the officers retired when Robert Macaire and Bertrand get up. They were not wounded by the police; they fell and feigned death as a ruse. They burst out in laughter and run away before the astonished eyes of the chief officer who has returned to make a report of the proceedings. And thus the chase is renewed.

20. The Balloon.-In their flight, the two friends run across a balloon which is already inflated. The car is held down to the earth by bags of ballast. It is ready to ascend into the airy regions of the clouds.

21. The Kidnaping of a “Cop”.-The two pals jump into the car and throw out, with impetuous haste, the ballast. As the balloon is lightened it starts to rise majestically. Alas, the chief of police has reached the spot meanwhile. He makes an effort to seize the guide-rope. In the confusion, the anchor of the balloon catches onto one of its flukes the cross-belts of the latter’s uniform. His weight holds back the car, yet he remains suspended.

22. The Start.-But after throwing out a few more sacks of ballast, the balloon begins to rise bearing away its three occupants, one of whom is most unwillingly in a very critical situation.

23. In the Air.-The rope on the anchor is broken. The chief has been precipitated to the ground much more quickly than he ascended. Now the two fugitives, free and happy, sail along through the air while making gestures of defiance and derision at the diminishing officers of the law.

24. The Car.-Upon the ground, the police watch the car float away bearing their enemies. They perceive the column of the Bastille, a very high monument, and toward that the airship is moving. Suddenly the thought prompts them to rush to it and climb the 375 steps which lead to its summit, and thereby capture the balloon if by any chance it should sail near them.

25. The Column of the Bastille.-But, alas, their last hope is shattered! Just when these faithful minions of the law, after terrific efforts, reach the summit and get out on the platform of the monument, a rope dangling from the car comes within range. They seize it, but they are deluged with sand from the remaining bags of ballast, and the police are constrained most reluctantly to let go of the rope, for their eyes are blinded and smart most atrociously.

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1 Méliès 888-905  
2 Georges Méliès   
3 1906 364m/1060ft
4 France  


12/01/1907 FranceParis, Théâtre Robert-Houdin Georges Méliès  Robert Macaire et Bertrand 
09/03/1907 États-UnisNew York
The New York Clipper  Robert Macaire and Bertrand