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Glass of Goat's Milk, A (1909)


Main image of Glass of Goat's Milk, A (1909)
35mm, black and white, silent, 377 feet
DirectorPercy Stow
Production CompanyClarendon Film Company

After drinking the milk of a particularly aggressive goat, a man grows horns and begins to act the goat himself...

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Transformation was a favourite of early film comedy, a device inherited from pantomime. Trick photogaphy lent itself particularly well to this device, giving film an advantage over the clumsier effects of stage shows. Sometimes, however, these methods culled from the theatre were used in comic situations, as in A Glass of Goat's Milk. In this simple comedy a man drinks the milk of a particularly aggressive goat and grows horns.

Instead off using a dissolve, director Percy Stow does it the old fashioned way, with a pair of inflatable horns, fashioned from paper, which blow up as we watch. The goat/man then proceeds to butt everything in sight before getting his horns stuck in a wooden winch where they are finally dettached from his head.

This is a common enough storyline for a comedy of this era and, in fact, very like a great French comedy of 1906 from Gaumont, Monsieur Qui à Mangé un Taureau, in which a man eats some beef, grows bull's horns and causes havoc in the streets of Paris. Clarendon's Croydon stamping ground may lack the glamour of the Parisian city centre, but it is performed with the same joyful energy.

The actor, whoever he might be, does a splendid goat impression and the comedy builds in a satifying way as the goat/man demolishes ever larger and more surprising objects - did they really cut down a tree specially for this film? - and there are some amusing special film effects, as when the dairyman is butted up into the air. No amateur production this; care is taken over the composition of the shots, and the close-up of the man growing his horns is particularly effective.

Bryony Dixon

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Video Clips
Complete film (5:34)
Stow, Percy (1876-1919)
A Year in Film: 1909