#192) A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)
OR “Bunny’s Stake Is Missing”
Directed by Laurence Trimble
Class of 2011
The Plot: Bunny Sharpe (John Bunny) has a gambling problem, and when his wife (Flora Finch) pleads with him to stop, he vows never to play poker with the boys again. Later, his wife finds out that he’s still going to his weekly poker games in the guise of a fraternal meeting. She gets her cousin Freddie (Harry T. Morey) and his bible study group to infiltrate the club dressed as police officers. Hilarity ensues.
Why It Matters: The NFR gives the film its historical significance, and then devotes a lot of the write-up to a New York Times editorial calling for film preservation after Bunny’s death in 1915. Yeah, we get it; it’s prescient. An essay by go-to silent film expert Steve Massa provides more insight into Bunny and Finch, but is weirdly cut off at the end.
But Does It Really?: Oh sure. It’s not a masterpiece or a laugh riot, but it’s one of the rare surviving pieces of film depicting one of America’s earliest silent comedy duos.
Everybody Gets One: John Bunny and Flora Finch will show up elsewhere on this list, but this film is their only moment in the spotlight. Both were stage actors who made the transition to film with Vitagraph in the early 1910s. Despite their alleged dislike for each other, their films together (affectionately known as “Bunnyfinches”) were Vitagraph’s most popular shorts.
Wow, That’s Dated: Mainly the immoral stigma of poker playing.
- Wow, John Bunny is 90% face. He looks like if Winston Churchill got stung by a bee.
- Flora is so lucky that online poker isn’t a thing yet.
- When did we stop using “Geo” as a nickname for George?
- Could the Keystone Kops sue these guys?
- A group of men dressed as police officers come into a room of unescorted ladies. This is so close to being a bachelorette party.
- Wait that’s it? That is a long, confusing final shot.
- After John Bunny’s death in 1915, the film was re-released as “A Sure Cure for Pokeritis”. Although there were many who predicted that future generations would love the “Bunnyfinches”, these films fell into obscurity, with many of them presumed lost.
- Flora Finch found some success in the sound era in small supporting roles. She appears in the Laurel & Hardy film “Way Out West” and fellow NFR entry “The Women”.
- Scientists have yet to find a cure for pokeritis. They have, however, been able to confine the symptoms to what experts refer to as “Poker Face”.