A Cure for Pokeritis

A Cure for Pokeritis is an Old Silent Film

A Cure for Pokeritis is a very old film. It was made in 1912, and is one of the silent movies of that time. It is a short film, starring John Bunny and flora Finch. After Bunny’s death the film was released again under the title A Sure Cure for Pokeritis. It was one of a few similar movies produced by Vitagraph Studios, and which made Bunny and Finch into early film stars. Its sense of humour may be dated, but historically it has been recognized as an important movie of its time.

An Early Domestic Comedy

The Cure for Pokeritis is a domestic comedy, in which a woman tries to put an end to her husband’s poker gambling habit, by having her cousin stage a fake police raid on the weekly poker game.

Upon returning home from one of his poker playing evenings, in which he has as usual lost his money, George Brown swears he will lay off gambling forever. His friend, Bigelow, however, convinces him to tell his wife Mary that he is attending meetings of the Sons of the Morning, a fraternal lodge, to explain his absences. Then he could secretly continue coming to the weekly poker games. George unfortunately talks in his sleep, and Mary becomes suspicious. She asks her cousin Freddie to follow George to see where he is going. Once Mary finds out the truth, she and the other wives of the poker players hatch a plan to end the gambling. Freddie and other members of his Bible study group dress up as policemen, and raid the game. The wives then all arrive, and the police leave the men to the mercies of their wives, apparently instead of being arrested. The Browns do make peace with each other as the movie comes to an end.

Several Short Films Made With the Same Stars

Vitagraph Studios made several of these short one reel comedies starring Bunny and Finch. Most of them have been lost. In A Cure for Pokeritis, there were early attempts to create depth by having the police action take place in both the foreground and the background, and allowing the actors to move between them. This improved the realism and pace of the scene.

Silent movies like A Cure for Pokeritis were usually accompanied by a variety of musical performances. It could have been a live pianist or even an orchestra, and in 1910 and 1912 these tunes were chosen because the titles or lyrics related somehow to the film.

The Popularity of Poker

Poker in various forms is played throughout the world. It popularity is probably greatest in North America, where it began.  Poker was mentioned as being played in New Orleans as early as 1829, with a deck of twenty cards, and four players. The game spread rapidly, after the Mississippi river casino boats, which are the subject of so many books and films, and the prospectors in the West of America during the gold rush, played poker.

Countless variants of poker have been described in literature, but they all share certain characteristics. A poker hand consists of five cards, and the value of them hands is the same, whatever form of the game is being played.

In 1912 George Brown and his cronies would have played the simplest form of the game, as there was no sound to accompany the run of play.