Our 1907 entry in “100 Years, 100 Films” is That Fatal Sneeze, a comedy trick film from the makers of Rescued by Rover, Lewin Fitzhamon directing for Cecil Hepworth’s company. An older man plays a trick on a young boy by pouring prodigious amounts of pepper into his food and causing him to sneeze violently. The boy gets revenge likewise on the older man, who proceeds to sneeze his way through the rest of the film, more and more violently, until he sneezes himself away in a puff of smoke. The comedy comes from the hyperbole of depicting each sneeze growing in magnitude to the point where surrounding objects are flying and the camera is rolling out of control. It is still a very clever film today. It is so preposterous that it has the mythic quality of a tall tale. The early film-makers, prior to the days of feature films, managed to compress a lot into just a few minutes. Still preoccupied with the technical possibilities of the film medium, not encumbered by the story-telling demands of a longer feature film format, That Fatal Sneeze is memorable in the development of film comedy, fusing comedy with the already established form of Pathe-style fantasy trick film.
- God Told Me To. Directed by Larry Cohen. USA, 1976.
- 1909. Corner in Wheat. Directed by D.W. Griffith.
- Men in Black. Directed by Ray McCarey, Featuring The Three Stooges. USA, 1934.
- 1908. El Hotel Electrico (The Electric Hotel), directed by Segundo de Chomon
- 8-1/2. Directed by Federico Fellini. Italy, 1963.