In Broncho Billy’s Christmas Dinner, a small-town sheriff is sent a poster of Broncho Billy (granting him immunity if he turns himself in) just before his daughter leaves for college on the local stagecoach. Meanwhile, in some woods, Billy waits for the stage to pass, planning to rob its passengers. The stage driver is delayed; drunken cowboys spook the horses; and the stage careens off (with the daughter), rushing wildly by the surprised Billy. Racing after the stage, he clambers aboard, grabs the loose reins, and brings the horses to a standstill. So grateful is the daughter that she invites him to join her family for Christmas dinner; before he can say no (he eyes the stage cashbox), she drags him off and home. Awkward and unfamiliar with such occasions, Billy finally confesses his identity; the sheriff quickly accepts him, grateful for his “good deed.” One reviewer found the “thrilling ride on [the] stage coach . . . as exciting and realistic as anything . . . shown in pictures,” and the surviving print, marked by some deft framing and editing, confirms this praise. Trade press stories heightened the thrill by reporting that, despite breaking an ankle during the scene’s filming, Edna Fisher (the daughter) “continued acting during three subsequent scenes without revealing the extent of her injuries”. Yet reviewers were equally impressed by the acting “in the quieter moments” near the end, as when a pensive Billy is washing up in the right foreground space of a small room, while the family and other guests cluster around a Christmas tree visible through a doorway in the background.
The Broncho Billy series was unusually popular in Europe, especially in Great Britain and Germany, where Essanay had branch offices. Anderson’s phenomenal appeal – what the English called the “irresistible charm of personality and the breezy, easy, infectious humour . . . of [this] magnetic man” – gave credence to Essanay’s own boast that Broncho Billy was the first American “world famous character-creation”. In contrast to Thomas Ince’s spectacular Indian pictures for Bison-101, Anderson developed Billy as a heroic figure along the lines worked out in Broncho Billy’s Christmas Dinner. That is, he first appeared as either an outlaw or “social bandit”, or else as a cowboy between jobs. If this characterization appealed to working-class audiences and boys, other attributes attracted a middle-class audience. For Billy usually underwent a transformation into a socially acceptable role model (Anderson himself, by contrast, underwent a different transformation, dropping his real name of Max Aaronson for a more Anglicized one). In fact, although never strictly a parent, Billy sometimes served as a surrogate father, making him an appealing figure to mothers as well as children. By incorporating Christian themes of moral uplift, self-sacrifice, and redemption, his films often (and somewhat ironically) evoked the ideals of evangelical Protestantism. In short, the Broncho Billy series became incredibly popular by hewing to traditional, middle-class ideals of morality, manhood, and character, without totally erasing the figure’s initial appearance as a stoic, isolated male.» – Richard Abel, Pordenone 2009
General InformationBroncho Billy's Christmas Dinner is a motion picture produced in the year 1911 as a USA production. The Film was directed by Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson, with Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson, Arthur Mackley, Edna Fisher, , Josephine Rector, in the leading parts. We have currently no synopsis of this picture on file; There are no reviews of Broncho Billy's Christmas Dinner available.
Bibliographie Giornate del Cinema Muto Pordenone 2009, Katalog