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Wonders of the Deep (1920)

A cat observes the wonders of the deep from inside a bottle. Eventually, he finds sunken treasure.


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A cat observes the wonders of the deep from inside a bottle connected to a hose and a funnel in order to provide him with air. Under the sea he observes catfish that look much like him; a cowfish, complete with udders; a seahorse being ridden by a frog; a frog band; and a dogfish with tiny fish as fleas. There's a fish hospital with a fish on crutches, a fish in a wheelchair and a fish (with a hook still in its mouth) being carried out on a stretcher. The cat sees automobile-like fish with wheels, a roller-skating fish, and a harried mother fish pushing her children in a baby carriage. Two fish are sweating hard, even underwater, as they compete in a dance marathon. Finally, a swordfish punctures the cat's bottle, forcing him back to the top. Once on land, the cat goes fishing, using his tail and a piece of rope as a fishing pole. His bait is a seductive worm who entices a fish onto the hook. The cat pulls the fish up and grabs it, but the fish escapes. A bigger fish bites the cat's ... Written by J. Spurlin

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1920 (USA)  »

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Fast, Cheap and Under Control
17 April 2013 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

In a career of producing movies that spanned more than forty years, Paul Terry's specialty was cheap cartoons aimed at small children produced on tight budgets. Perhaps I should give him snaps for that niche, but even when I was four, I knew that every Mighty Mouse was the same.

So, looking at this cartoon, I am struck by the number of tropes that Terry reused many times. Perhaps this is noteworthy as an early example when he was still inventing, but I can't bring myself to think much of it.

The cat goes down to the bottom of the sea, where he discovers that fish live just like people on the land, with fish hospitals, frogs that roller skate and bass that swim with the Australian crawl. This goes on for a long long time and it is not until the final minute that we get anything more in the way of a plot.

Although this may be the earliest surviving Terry cartoon of this stripe, he redid it many times over the year and this is a case of if you've seen one, you've seen them all.

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