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boblipton

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3551 reviews in total 
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Westron Wynde, When Wilt Thou Not Blow?, 1 September 2015
6/10

Traveling salesman Joe Rock blows into town and is offered Lilian Biron as his wife if he can make the wind stop blowing. Good thing for him he;s the producer director and one of the screenwriters! Most of the gags clearly involve running the camera backwards, but they are done in such an engaging fashion and the print, although battered by several generations of duplication, is all the more handsome for that -- a trick Joe picked up stooging for Larry Semon at Vitagraph. Given those two facts, this is a fine little comedy, one of the several that are available on Ben Model's latest compilation of ultra-rare silent shorts, ACCIDENTALLY PRESERVED 3. You get a nice Ben Model score to accompany it, too.

Nurse Fever, 31 August 2015
7/10

Clubman Sidney Drew sees a pretty young nurse tending to an accident victim on the street and falls in love -- it's a short subject, so they had to work fast. Not, fast enough, though, for before he can declare his love, she is accompanying her patient to the hospital. Desperate to meet her, Sidney decides to throw a fit and be admitted to the hospital, where he hopes to be assigned her.

It's a charming comedy of coincidences and typical of the Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Drew comedies. He was the uncle of the now more famous John, Lionel and Ethel Barrymore (or perhaps half-uncle, since grandfather Drew seems to have been touring on the road a lot in the year before Sidney's birth). While most people think of silent comedy as pure slapstick, there were a considerable number of situational comedies, and the Drews excelled at them, thanks in no small part to scripts by Mrs. Drew that mocked the foibles of the upper classes and Mr. Drew's fine stage business.

Not many survive and of those that do, many are in poor shape. This one is available, and you can see it on Ben Model's latest DVD of short subjects that have turned up in private collections, ACCIDENTALLY PRESERVED 3.

Belfast, 29 August 2015
6/10

Mitchell and Kenyon, those Mancunians who went to local events and filmed the crowds, expanded their field of interest with this one: over the Irish Sea to Belfast.

To the modern viewer who remembers how Belfast was a major bone of contention during the "Troubles", while the IRA was trying to drive Great Britain out of Northern Ireland as recently as thirty years ago, this film is a bit of a shock. Except for a few names, Belfast looks much like Manchester. Of course, it would be a decade and a half before the Troubles began and Ireland proclaimed its independence. For the moment of the film, however, things look fairly normal.

Whether Mitchell and Kenyon was trying to expand to Belfast to repeat their Manchester model, or thought that, given Manchester's large Irish population, their audience would flock to the theater in hopes of seeing relatives or old familiar sights, is impossible to say. Possibly both.

La vague (1891)
Experiments, 22 August 2015
6/10

While it is impossible to judge this early experiment by the standards of cinema, we can see it is an important and imitated film. Two of Robert Paul's earliest films were "Rough Seas at Margate" -- indeed, he shot two variations of it. It's hard to imagine that Paul had not seen or at least heard of Marey's efforts, which he spent the 1880s producing, after he had invented the "chronophotograph gun". Birt Acres also did a version of this, with "Rough Seas at Dover". Thus, you could say that Marey invented the first film genre, even before the Butterfly Dance movies, or people coming out of factories n their way home.

Marey also did an ur-cartoon, "L'Homme Machine" but never seems to have capitalized on his inventions in this particular field. He remains an interesting bypath in the invention of cinema.

Fill In, 22 August 2015
4/10

Scrappy takes the train to rural Squeedonk to visit his cousin Elmer down on the farm. Armed with a joy-buzzer, he and Elmer torment each other in this unappealing cartoon.

While Scrappy, under originator Dick Huemer, often had the problem of a strong start and not enough material to fill out a cartoon, by this point Scrappy had become a generic kid's cartoon, filled with whatever material would fill in six minutes. Scrappy is not appealing, nor is his adenoidal rube cousin, and their series of practical jokes has no structure other than the length of the cartoon.

In addition, the technical issues are annoyingly at odds, with some beautifully detailed and three-dimension background work pointing out the unfinished, flat design of the characters. Under Huemer, Scrappy had been about the bizarre imagination of kids. Now it was about.... well, I don't know what it was supposed to be about, other than filling in a schedule.

Where Have I Seen This Before?, 20 August 2015
5/10

Alice Guy, the first woman film director -- indeed, the first film director -- directs this remake of the famous Lumiere comedy.

At this time, there was no way for a film maker to copyright a film, so uncredited remakes of popular films was very common. Because the films were sold outright to anyone who wished to show them, they were offered in catalogues. A canny catalogue would have as many different films as possible and, since remaking the film would mean the original film maker would not have to be paid a profit, it was often cheaper to remake it, or to simply buy a copy and reprint it as often as desired.

This situation would not last. Soon enough film makers would plaster their trade marks over their sets. This would give them protection against others simply reprinting their work. In the United States, several of the production companies would print every frame of a film on paper, bind it into a book and submit the book for copyright protection. These "paper prints" would become the source for early works. In the 1910s the US copyright code would be rewritten to include films.

In the meantime, Gaumont simply had Madame Guy reshoot this film.

Backwards, Turn Backwards, Oh Time in Your Flight, 18 August 2015
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

People dive into a pool, some from a diving board at the pool's edge, and some from the second floor of the building. Then, through the miracle of printing the film backwards, they leap from the pool to the diving board and the second floor.

Palm Beach was established as a resort for the wealthy by the time this film was made, although I'm sure the occasional middle-class couple might honeymoon there. Because of that, the reverse printing of the second half of this film has an air of satire about it as the super-rich of the Gilded Age perform ridiculous feats for the amusement of the lower-class nickelodeon audience.

Fishing for Laughs, 17 August 2015
5/10

Who knew Baby Huey was Irish? I had no idea until I saw this one and heard an uncredited Jackson Beck voice Huey's father (called "Gilbert" in the comic books) with an accent.

We also get a break from the neighborhood kids hating Huey until he saves them from a wolf in this story. I credit the influence of Harvey comics. Harvey was about three years into their contract with Famous Studios to publish comic books based on the movie cartoons. This meant many more Baby Huey comic book stories than cartoons, and so the stories had a larger cast of characters.

The resulting cartoon is a decent idea == Huey wants to go fishing with his father, who reluctantly takes him along -- with a variable assortment of gags. It's undistinguished but competent fare, typical for most of Famous Studios' output for this period

"I Can't Give You Anything But Love", 15 August 2015
5/10

A cat goes fishing and finds himself underwater, where he sings a duet with a female catfish in this interesting Van Beuren cartoon.

While Fleischer had Betty Boop, who evolved from a dog, Van Beuren's Helen-Kane voiced cat starlet never finished her transition. It's a decently done cartoon with some lovely character design and clean animation, the story is depressingly similar to many others from Van Beuren and Terrytoons in this period, including a multi-legged villain who steals the object of the protagonist's affection; usually it would be a spider, but this is underwater, so it is an octopus.

The character design and animation are clean, simple and interesting. This is clearest when the action takes place against a white background. However, when the background work is more complex, the visuals become a bit muddy.

The Ship, Not the State, 15 August 2015
5/10

A man falls overboard from the U.S.S. Indiana and all hands snap to. A boat is lowered and the man is rescued in this Biograph sort, originally released in 1903.

It's a reenactment shot at an amusement park, probably done on regular basis, like the firefighting done at Coney Island about the same time. It's done in one still take and as probably exciting for the movie audience to witness. In this period, movie actualities -- event reenactments, like this one -- were an effort to bring the events that people might see to them.

Although to the modern eye, this is fairly unremarkable, it is noteworthy for being shot by Billy Bitzer, who is known today for becoming D.W. Griffith's lead camera man.


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