Harlequin's Story , 1907,(Fr. ”La légende de Polichinelle”), directed by Albert Capellani and Lucien Nonguet, produced by Pathe Freres , France, is a very unusual comedy silent film.
Most of Max Linder's movies were brief situation comedies focused on the frustrations of modern life, but Polichinelle is a fantasy with supernatural elements, similar to the contemporaneous work of Georges Méliès, Ferdinand Zecca, and Segundo de Chomons. In his role as the servant Ponchinella (also spelled "Polichinelle" and simply called "Harlequin" in the English language version), a clown figure from traditional Italian Commedia dell'arte, Linder is so heavily disguised and costumed that he is not recognizable. Only in the last couple of scenes, when we get a glimpse of his distinctive profile, is there any certainty that this is Max Linder at all. But the identity of the actors is not important here, for this is a fairy tale in which magic and spectacle are the featured attraction.
The film is almost surreal and definitely bizarre. Given the brevity of explanatory titles, it assumes the viewer has some knowledge of the tale (which possibly nobody outside of Italy or France will). This being a Pathe film, the Pathe girls make an appearance during the film's final scenes to do their usual dance routine.
Pulcinella (Italian pronunciation: [pultʃiˈnɛlla]), often called Punch or Punchinello in English, Polichinelle in French, is a classical character that originated in the commedia dell'arte of the 17th century and became a stock character in Neapolitan puppetry.
Always dressed in white with a black mask (hence conciliating the opposites of life and death), he stands out thanks to his peculiar voice, whose sharp and vibrant qualities produced with a tool called a swazzle contribute to the intense tempo of the show. Pulcinella often carries around macaroni and a wooden spoon. According to Pierre-Louis Duchartre, his traditional temperament is to be mean and crafty and his main mode of defense is to pretend to be too stupid to know what's going on. In some versions Pulcinella has a brother Cucurucu.
In various European languages, including at least Italian, French, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese and Romanian a "Pulcinella's secret" or a "Polichinelo's secret" is an "open secret."
Directors: Albert Capellani, Lucien Nonguet
Writer: Albert Capellani
Stars: Max Linder