Sometime on this night in 1920 the president of France fell out of a moving train.

And it gets weirder from here.

The president was Paul Deschanel.

He had only been in office for a few months at this point, but he was experienced and well-educated.

He was also starting to get some funny looks because of some of his behavior.

Like the time he gave a speech in Nice to great applause, and then gave the exact same speech again!

On this night, the president was riding on a nine-car train to an event in Loire with some of his ministers and a group of reporters.

They left Paris around 9:30pm.

At 10, Deschanel went to bed, having agreed that he’d get back together with the rest of the group the next morning.

He took a sleeping pill but then, perhaps because of the heat, he couldn’t sleep.

So he tried opening the window in his car.

He said later that the window was stuck, so he put his weight into opening the thing.

Then it gave way, and he went through.

Fortunately the train wasn’t going too fast at the time, so he wasn’t badly hurt.

But he was out in the middle of the night wearing only his green silk pajamas.

He walked up to the first person he saw, by a signal box, and explained, I have just fallen off a train, and I am the president of France.

Supposedly the man at the signal box saw this disheveled man wandering around in the dark and said, president? Sure you are, and I’m Emperor Napoleon.

He sent Deschanel to bed at a nearby house and called a doctor.

The next morning, the rest of the people on the train woke up and said, um, wasn’t the president on this train?

By the time they tracked Deschanel down and got him back to where he needed to be, the news had started spreading around the country.

And the political wounds were a lot deeper than the physical ones.

It’s never a good sign when you’re known as the president who fell out of a train.

That reputation, coupled with some other health issues, led Deschanel to resign just seven months after he started the job.

I guess France felt like when it came to his administration, the train had already left the station?

Today in 1993, people in a few computer labs watched a movie called “Wax: Or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees.”

It was the first movie played over the internet, though it had to be played in black and white instead of color, and the sound cut out a few times.

Maybe a little more lo-fi than streaming today.

The Unusual French President (Danny Dutch)

Cult Film Is a First On Internet (The New York Times)

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Photo via Wikicommons