|Index||5 reviews in total|
FOR a short while in the mid to late 1970's, we experienced a brief
flowering of a sort of "Golden Age of the Home-Movie Projector." This
occurred prior to the coming of the VCR and the "Betamax"; remember the
Beta Format? During this period of time, we saw the popularity of the
Super 8 MM, Magnetic Sound home movie camera and its accompanying item,
the Super 8 Magnetic Sound projector.
EVER so briefly America began a movement toward this format; what with camera shops, both local independents as well as those chains and department stores with photographic departments, sound cameras & projectors were definitely in. The desire to expand the home market gave rise to the sale of Super 8 Magnetic Sound versions of Hollywood's extensive backlog of titles; rendered in both 1 and 2 reel excerpts, as well as the whole darn movie, as desired.
DURING this time that we saw companies such as Blackhawk Films of Des Moines, Iowa, grow into a formidable nationally well-known mail order business. All was well; that is until around 1979-80, when the bubble burst. The use of video tape in the home rendered this film collecting hobby to be much more economical and accessible. One could simply tape a movie off of their TV or buy a real, honest-to-goodness, "store-bought" copy for much less than a videocassette; regardless of whichever format one chose.
IT was while this home movies' tooling to sound that we became familiar with this primitive and even embryonic item of Walt Disney output. Another home movie catalog house, one Niles Films of South Bend, Indiana offered ALICE'S ORPHAN (1926) as an item in their home bulletins. As the price seemed to be not so bad, we purchased it. This was our first sound film.
PLAYING it on our newly acquired, discounted and marked down GAF projector seemed to be a truly Earth Shaking event; fort as the movie was played for the first time, its 1930's vintage, post-synchronous sound track created as much interest to our family as Edison's must have on his first recording. It was crude music added to some even cruder sound effects & occasional mutterings of a character, but it was ours! We never forgot it; still having it as well as the projector and camera in our office.
AS for the concept of the ALICE IN CARTOONLAND Series, Walt & Roy Disney were looking for a series to replace and supersede their updated FAIRY TALES series, which ran out of steam; when the old switcheroo principal came into play. Master Animators, Max and Dave Fleischer had long successes with their OUT OF THE INKWELL Series; in which the animated Coco the Clown would escape the confines of the drawing board and have adventures in the real world; only to return to his element, jumping back into the Fleischer Studios' Inkwell at cartoons 1 reel ending.
REVERSING the idea, The Brothers Disney created a series of stories featuring a real girl in the surreal cartoon universe. The title was obviously owed to Mr. Lewis Carroll. While displaying no super-revolutionary or earth-shaking ideas, no outstandingly original animation techniques nor story renderings, the series was pleasant, amusing and probably nor better or worse than the animated shorts produced by Bray, Paul Terry or anyone else during the period of late silent to early sound.
AS FOR the cartoon itself, ALICE'S ORPHAN (aka ALICE'S ORNERY ORPHAN) (1926), it probably has less of the live girl, Alice, than do most other entries in the series. Margie Gray portrayed the young lady in this, the other child actress having been Anne Shirley. Be that as it may, for this short was much more of a cartoon with its being a sort of showcase for Alice's Cat, Julius.
FOLLOWING some winter settings, with Julius displaying some fine ice skating abilities to the tune of some pleasant, little back up music, a young parent-less kitten (who has all the appearances of being a miniature Julius)* decides to adopt the big cat and follows him home. Not wanting to turn the diminutive feline out into the bitter, wintry cold night, the elder cat takes to caring for the little guy. In doing so, he had the blessings of his owner/mistress**, the young kid, Alice. The rest of the movie is occupied with a parade of gags about caring and feeding young 'uns.
THERE is a certain probably unavoidable resemblance to Otto Messer's FELIX THE CAT and to MICKEY MOUSE, who was still at this time, still a gleam in Disney's celluloid eyes; although the happenings here would qualify as being at least ancestral to future greatness.
AS further proof of the fine economic$ of video vs. home movies, there is a DVD out which collects all of the ALICE IN CARTOONLAND installments. We've got to get this, as we only have on other ALICE Cartoon; that being ALICE'S EGG PLANT***, a political spoof on Marxism, Collectivism & "Sharing the Wealth" in general.
NOTE: * Much like the early Mickey Mouse, there is a real resemblance to FELIX THE CAT.
NOTE: ** Not that kind of 'Mistress', Schultz! We mean it in the sense of a feminine version of 'Master'.
NOTE *** Not Egg Plant as in the vegetable; but rather 'Plant' being in the sense of a Dairy or a place which makes products for sale, as an Automobile or a Steel Plant.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Searching round for titles to view for IMDb's Classic Film board's poll
for the best titles of 1926,I was surprised to stumble upon an
extremely early movie by Walt Disney.With still having a number of good
memories from a marathon of Goofy shots that I had a while ago,I
decided that it would be a good time to pay Alice a visit.
Skating around on a frozen pond,Julius discovers that someone has left a baby in a basket on the side.Being unable to find the baby's parents,Julius decides to take the child home with him,so that he and his friend Alice can look after the baby.Originally hoping that they would have an easy time,Alice and Julius soon discover that looking after a baby is far harder than either of them had expected.
View on the film:
Seamlessly blending a mix of animation and live action,director Walt Disney reveals a comedic streak which would be toned down for his more well known titles,with Disney smartly using sound, (which was still a very young addition to films at this point) to hit the viewer with everything from a crying baby to people getting hit on the head with hammers.Whilst the animation does have a simplistic appearance,Disney matches the sound effects with a brash drawing style,as Alice and Julius begin to think that they should have never gotten an orphan.
Alice's Orphan (1926)
*** (out of 4)
Julius is out skating on the ice when he notices that a baby cat has fallen through. He ends up saving the cat and taking him home to Alice where he is then forced to play daddy. ALICE'S ORPHAN, as well as the previous installment ALICE'S MYSTERIOUS MYSTERY, proved that Walt Disney must have been running out of cute ideas for the series and instead turned to some rather darker elements. This short has some very funny moments as well as some winks to Chaplin's THE KID but at the same time you have to laugh at some of the humor including the baby cat crying in bed and Julius just hitting it over the head with a bat to get it to sleep! If this scene isn't weird enough then the other weird thing is the fact that Alice pretty much has a few seconds in the film and then disappears. Why they were still selling the series under her name is anyone's guess since Julius was clearly the star.
In the mid-1920s, Walt Disney made a string of Alice cartoons. They featured Virginia Davis as Alice--a real life girl who finds herself in a cartoon world along with her cartoon cat, Julius. I noticed that the later films featured more and more Julius--and practically no Alice at all. I can only assume he was just more popular with audiences. In addition, in the later films, Julius is a bit of a jerk! When "Alice's Orphan" begins, Julius is ice skating. He sees a girl cat fall through the ice and saves her. When he discovers she's homely, he throws her back under the ice!! Soon he discovers a basket with a baby cat inside--so he takes it home. Unfortunately, the baby cat is a bit of a brat--so Julius thrashes it! As I said above, Julius is a bit of a jerk. Overall, entertaining but by now the series is all but complete and the films just weren't as fresh and entertaining and cute as the early Alice cartoons. Worth a look to see what Disney was making back before Mickey, but otherwise not all that outstanding.
This entry has many more elaborate background paintings than most previous
Alice comedies. It is also my least favourite. I'm a fan of the series and
understand that the Disney humour in those days was very tentative. But it
was hard for me to stomach a scene where Julius actually MURDERS a female
cat he originally saved from drowning just because, well, once he got a
look at her he saw she was ugly. To me that tainted the cartoon.
Outside of that, the animation is good and the sets are elaborate, but once again we're cut off in an abrupt ending and only see about 10 seconds of Alice. Avoid the "sonorised" version at all costs.
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