Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
First addition to my bio since I added one to my profile:
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Seeing Ghosts (1948)
Nice, atmospheric cartoon with interesting gags
This is a one-shot cartoon produced by Terrytoons studio. There will be spoilers ahead:
This is a cartoon made for Hallowe'en and dark, stormy nights! The setting is a haunted house infested with ghosts and more than a few skeletons. The house is for sale ("Slightly Haunted") and the first opening scenes are atmospheric sight gags with ghosts flying around and having a party. There are invisible musicians and dancing ghosts, with some good sight gags.
Enter a pig and his dog, who drive up to the house, where the pig (a decorator) marks the house as sold, then moves to the door (the house needs reconstruction or demolition more than redecorating). The ghosts decide to scare him away.
After an excellent creaking door sound effect, the pig and dog come inside, only to be scared out again. The pig stands, frightened by his own shadow, yet never seems to realize he's standing next to a tombstone the whole time! The bulk of the short consists of sight gags of the ghosts frightening the pig and his dog. A lot of the gags are old standbys, but they're well done. The ending is rather good, so I won't spoil it here.
This short deserves to be seen more often.
Debbie Does Dallas (1978)
Relatively tame by comparison, with a plot, marginal acting and surprisingly decent technical work
This is an adult film title from the 1970s. There will be mild spoilers ahead:
This review will be more circumspect than my usual review these days, of necessity. The nature of the material and my own limits on what I can and will say make that unavoidable. But there are comments I want to make.
One of the most prominent memories I have of this is the fuss that was raised by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the Dallas Cowboys organization. The furor over the similarities in uniforms used may have been more entertaining than the movie, though the film does have its charms.
There's a notable plot here. A high school cheerleader named Debbie wants to try out to be a cheerleader for a pro sports football team, but lacks the money to be able to make the trip. A group of her friends decides they want to cheer her on at the tryouts, so they decide to get jobs and start a business to do odd jobs for income. Debbie goes to work in a sporting goods store, another girl works at a candle shop and so on.
Needless to say, there are all sorts of contrived situations which lead to the expected in this type of film. The acting is enthusiastic, if not terribly skilled and most of the "high school" students (particularly the guys) look way too old for their parts, but it's actually a reasonably decent movie. The production values are better than those of films with the whole "shaky camera", "found footage" variety (though that isn't setting the bar that high, I'll grant you).
This film is available on DVD is is worth watching. It deserves to be considered a classic of its genre.
The Fulla Bluff Man (1940)
Average short with one joke which is decent
This is a cartoon in the Stone Age series from Fleischer studio. There will be spoilers ahead:
The title here is a play on the Fuller Brush Man. There's a company, the Fuller Brush Company, which sold household cleaning items door to door at the time. Fuller still exists at this time. A feature film with the title The Fuller Brush Man was made in 1948.
This short is a funny but minor effort about a door-to-door salesman in prehistoric days. He has a cart drawn by a dinosaur and he sells household supplies and other things. He doesn't have a whole lot of luck making sales to housewives, with one housewife tricking him into actually cleaning her home for her without buying anything and another one managing to sell him something instead.
He then tries to sell something to a man using a chisel to write on a stone tablet, trying to get him to buy a jackhammer! The man expresses his displeasure rather forcefully.
We then get to the longest, most drawn out joke here, where two cavemen begin to argue and it escalates as both buy clubs from the salesman. Gradually, more and more participants join what becomes a melee, most buying clubs until the salesman is sold out. He leaves one step ahead of the posse.
The best joke comes at the end, as he leaves.
This short is worth watching once.
Prehistoric Perils (1951)
This is actually very good for the series and the studio
This is a cartoon in the Mighty Mouse series produced by Terrytoons. There will be spoilers ahead:
First things first. This is a Mighty Mouse cartoon and, as such, it has the strengths and weaknesses inherent in the character and the series. Having said that, there are some pretty good bits in here.
This is equal parts melodrama and operetta. What's interesting here is that this short has some fun with the conventions of both the series and the basic conventions of melodrama. The basics are there (Oil Can Harry is the villain, Pearl Pureheart is the damsel in distress and Mighty Mouse is the hero, the outcome is foreordained) but the gags lend more than a wink at the cartoon's formula. Pearl's gag conveniently drops away on cue and we see Harry change as she calls him vile names.
Mighty Mouse is seen on a television set in the standard predicament, one the viewer knows he'll escape, but there's a gentle nudge in the ribs about that at the beginning as Mighty Mouse laments his "fate".
Pearl jumps out a window rather than succumb to Harry's overtures and even that's set on its ear a bit. Harry flees with Pearl in tow for his time machine and the time machine is triggered to go into the past. There are some nice still image gags here and they wind up ultimately in the "prehistoric" days, which allows for a few fights between Mighty Mouse and some dinosaurs before Harry is ultimately vanquished, Pearl is once again rescued and she and our hero rejoice while Harry has the last word.
This cartoon deserves to be more widely known. Recommended.
Santa's Surprise (1947)
Interesting concept forms the basic plot for this short
This is a cartoon in the Little Audrey series from Famous Studios. There will be spoilers ahead:
This short begins with Santa making his rounds and singing as he does so. There are scenes with children trying to sneak a peek as Santa leaves gifts. The last child shown is Little Audrey. There's a nice gag with a mouse peeking out a hole, Santa spotting him and leaving cheese in a little stocking! Santa returns home and goes right to bed and to sleep.
But he had some passengers-Little Audrey and a number of other children, each to one degree or another stereotypes, though the main source of comic relief is a Dutch boy wearing wooden shoes. The kids want to do something nice fore Santa for a change, so they sneak in and clean his home.
They do the basic chores involved, rather humorously and a couple of the bits are very stereotypical in nature. The kids sing their own song while working. The Dutch boy, of course, nearly gets them found out more than once, amid disasters, but they finish the job just before Santa awakens. He finds everything arranged and a present under the tree to boot. He opens it and the last gag is too cute to spoil, so I won't.
This short is worth watching once.
A Wicky, Wacky Romance (1939)
Cat pirates vs. a mouse in a loincloth
This is a cartoon produced by the Terrytoons studio, There will be spoilers ahead:
This is a fairly standard Terrytoon cartoon. There's nothing terribly innovative or creative about this, even by Paul Terry's limited standards.
The short begins with a boy and girl mouse sailing on the water when the girl goes into the water. This gives the boy a chance to show off his athletic ability and it establishes their relationship. The girl does a hula when they reach shore.
Meanwhile, out at sea, there's a pirate ship whose mascot (a parrot) spots the mice on the beach and alerts the crew, which runs to one end of the ship, almost capsizing the vessel. They wind up capturing the girl with one of the better gags in the short. There are some nice visual gags throughout, but beyond those, this isn't very interesting. Mouse boy makes like Tarzan and speeds off to rescue his girl.
The end is never really in doubt here, there's just enough material to reach the desired length before wrapping things up with a happy ending.
This cartoon is worth seeing once.
The Living Stone (1959)
Documentary short on an Inuit carver produced by NFB
This was nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Short, losing to AMA Girls. There will be spoilers ahead:
This documentary has a framing device, with a father telling his children about a stone carver who carved the image of a sea spirit from a stone, which he unwraps and shows to them. The narrator relates the words of the father to his children while the events he tells in his tale are shown.
Inuit carvers look at a stone in order to see the image trapped in the stone. Once they find the image in the stone, they then remove and discard the stone which doesn't belong to release the image from the stone.
In addition to showing carvers carving, aspects of everyday life among the Inuit are show. Seal hunting, shifting from winter quarters to summer quarters and daily family life are shown. It's really quite fascinating. But the carvings which are shown are the main selling point. Much of the work is truly exquisite.
Further information on this is available at the National Film Board of Canada website and it was available at one point from there. Recommended.
The Cure (1924)
Excellent "Out of the Inkwell" short
This is a cartoon in the Koko the Clown series produced by the Fleischer studio. There will be spoilers ahead:
This is an early silent short starring Koko the Clown. In this one, Max Fleischer draws Koko and a white rabbit in a clearing. Koko immediately realizes he's been drawn with a toothache. It turns out that Max also has a toothache.
The rabbit (who all but steals the short) acts as a dentist, trying to resolve Koko's problem. When he takes Koko's pulse, it shifts locations repeatedly. Then Max draws a pair of pliers when asked to provide help. As the rabbit tries to pull the tooth, the bulge in Koko's cheek also shifts repeatedly, finally resulting in a funny and unexpected resolution to Koko's toothache.
Max then asks Koko to help with his tooth. He ties a string to his tooth and then tells Koko and the rabbit to pull his tooth after "Laughing Gas" puts him asleep. But Max just gets silly and plays a trick on the two, by drawing a lion with a bad tooth onto the end of the string.
The next sequence is basically a series of sight gags, including a series of puns arising from Koko and the rabbit treating patients. Max then runs the gas tube into the cartoon portion and gets everyone high on nitrous oxide. Even the buildings in the live action segment get high.
Koko returns to the live action portion and devises an intricate (and ultimately painful to Max) method of pulling Max's tooth. Koko and the rabbit then go into a fountain pen and Max puts the ink back in the inkwell.
This cartoon should be more widely known. Most highly recommended.
Union Maids (1976)
Fascinating mix of interviews and archival footage recounting the efforts at organizing unions in the 1930s
This documentary was nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature, losing to Who Are the DeBolts and Where Did They Get Nineteen Children? There will be spoilers ahead:
This documentary details the experiences of three women who were active in the labor union movement in the 1930s. The three women-Kate, Stella and Sylvia-were active in Chicago in separate industries and worked to organize unions in their various workplaces/industries. They talk about the problems they had with employers, reluctant or frightened workers and even with the unions themselves because they were often unskilled labor or because they were women when unions were dominated by men.
One of the women, Kate, is a die-hard socialist, even in the interviews conducted in the 1970s, she's firmly and proudly a socialist. Stella talks about her current connections to the women's movement. Sylvia talks about her father being in a union and telling her that, whatever work she ends up doing, if she has an opportunity to join a union, she should, because any union is better than no union.
The documentary intersperses interview segments with still photos and archival footage with music from the likes of Pete Seegar and Arlo Guthrie, as well as a recording of "Sweet Home Chicago". The archival footage lends context to the interviews. If there's a serious problem with this, at least for me, it's a bit short. I'd have liked it to be longer. But that's a minor nitpick.
This film deserves to be more widely known. Recommended.
Loves Labor Won (1948)
Interesting but flawed Mighty Mouse short
This is a short from the Mighty Mouse series produced by Terrytoons. There will be spoilers ahead:
This is a Mighty Mouse operetta-style short. It begins in cliffhanger fashion, with a still frame leading into the melodrama ahead. Mighty Mouse is tied up with a cannon pointed at him and the fuse lit, while Oil Can Harry has Pearl Pureheart captive. There's a running gag involving a parson whose attempts to marry Pearl and Harry are continually interrupted by events. The best interruptions are when Pearl punches Harry into a wall (for a helpless maiden, Pearl does quite well) and a gag tied to Mighty Mouse's first peril, the cannon.
The thing about this cartoon is that it relies far too much on characters, Mighty Mouse in particular, doing idiotic things to extend events. While there are some good gags, like when Harry stops a train, there are too many fake "climaxes" spoiled by the "idiot plot" used here. I'd have much preferred seeing Pearl deck Harry more than see Mighty Mouse foiled by his own poor judgment.
As invariably happens in these shorts, Mighty Mouse wins and there are two very good gags which finish off first a subplot and second the short itself. The ending is cute.
This short is worth watching.