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Film: A Cure for Pokeritis
A Cure for Pokeritis is a 1912 comedy film, 12 minutes long, staring John Bunny and Flora Finch. Bunny plays George Brown, who loves to play poker with his buddies but keeps getting cleaned out. Finch is his wife Mary, who is highly disapproving. Mary browbeats George into giving up poker, but George's buddy has an idea. He sends George an invitation to a fake fraternal lodge that is really an excuse to get out of the house and play poker. Mary figures this out when George starts muttering in his sleep, and arranges a prank to cure George of his poker habit permanently. She arranges for her cousin Freddie Dewdrop and his friends to impersonate cops and pretend to raid the party. All the wives then show up to embarrass their husbands, but George and Mary share an affectionate embrace.

A Cure for Pokeritis frankly isn't all that funny from a modern perspective, but it is of interest as one of the few surviving films of Bunny and Finch, who were a very popular comedy duo. Possibly the first depiction of poker in film. It is listed on the National Film Registry.


Tropes:

  • Ambiguously Gay: Freddy comes off as rather mincing and effiminate, and he is named "Freddie Dewdrop" to boot.
  • Fat and Skinny: The rotund Bunny and rail-thin, Olive Oyl-lookalike Finch certainly were quite a visual contrast. They were in many films together, and their films got to be so popular that they were called "Bunnyfinches".
  • Funny Background Event: The use of depth-of-field here—placing characters in the foreground while other characters are doing something different in the background—was innovative for 1914. The scene where Freddie sneaks into the poker party by hiding behind a coat rack while George and his buddies deal cards in the foreground stands out.
  • The Gambling Addict: George lies to his wife and pretends to be a member of a fake lodge in order to play poker.
  • Henpecked Husband: Hard not to feel bad for George and all the other husbands who have to come up with cover stories to hide the fact that they're playing cards.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Freddie and his Bible-study friends dress up as cops in order to raid the party and scare George and the other husbands straight.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Not just talking, but miming dealing cards. This tips off Mary that George is still playing poker.
Malcolm XUsefulNotes/National Film RegistryThe Cry of the Children
The Cameraman's RevengeEarly FilmsThe Cry of the Children

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