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6/10
THe Worm's Turn
27 February 2021
Scrappy goes fishing, tying a worm onto his hook before casting it into the water to face a myriad of fish with sharp teeth. Can the worm get out of being devoured?

Its mostly the worm talking to the fish, trying to persuade them not to eat him, voice provided by an uncredited Mel Blanc. It's pretty close to radio with pictures, but under Art Davis, the pictures are moderately funny, and the worm's monologues are very amusing.
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5/10
Pretty Much As The Title
27 February 2021
Scrappy runs a rodeo in a vacant lot, with a lot of mistreated cats standing in for cattle to be roped, and so forth. A little girl wants to be part of the show, but the boys don't like that.

This one puts down most of its attraction on cuteness, so it's not to my taste. Some of the gags are well constructed, but by and large, it has an air of 'they're just kids and don't know any better.' I much prefer the earlier Scrappies, which inhabited a kid's mentality and creativity and took it seriously, if not solmenly.
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Wild Company (1930)
5/10
Good Performances, Underwritten Message Story
26 February 2021
H.B. Warner is a well-connected and successful merchant. He indulges his son, Frank Albertson, with plenty of money and a loose grip; as he tells wife Claire McDowell, he knows what it's like to be young. As a result, he has no idea of the situation Albertson is in: smitten with night-club singer Sharon Lynn, who is the mistress of Kenneth Thomson. Thomson plans to use Albertson as a cover for the robbery and murder of night-club owner Bela Lugosi, confident the by framing matters right, Albertson will go down with them, and Waner will never permit that.

There's a lot lurking in the subtext of this story, with its intermingling of flaming youth and organized crime. Leo McCarey, in his first movie for Fox, makes a stab at it, with a peroration by George Fawcett to define and condemn the lapses of modern society. The subject however is not McCarey's meat, and despite some fine performances, particularly by Warner, the movie lacks density to give it much gravity. The movie feels as if it could have been cut by five or ten minutes without losing anything. As a result, it[s a heartfelt if undistinguished drama.
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5/10
My Little Margie
26 February 2021
Scrappy delivers a gift to his girl friend; it's a charm bracelet. When she gets ready for bed, she puts it on the dresser top, and after lights out, the charms cm alive to sing, dance and get into mischief.

It's a random little cartoon, akin to that staple of the 1930s and 1940s, in which a drug store or book store who shut down for the night, whereupon all the standard brands or books' characters would come alive and interact. Given the essentially random nature of items on the bracelet, thre's nothing holding this cartoon together. It relies on the competence of the artist and too-cute characters for its minimal charm.
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2/10
The Natives Are Restless, And So Is The Audience
26 February 2021
Arline Judge is a singer who's manager left her stranded in Duakwa. In reality, that's in Ghana, but in this movie, it's in Rhodesia. She's making do singing for room and board, but because her boss is a spy, she gets accused of murder and leaves town, hooking up with paleontologist John 'Dusty' King and his manservant Mantan Moreland as real and fake police agents trail her.

To say this is dire is an understatement. It's full of badly written lines, King offers a performance that has wood as its main component, and Moreland's efforts at comedy are hampered by a stupid script. There's a lot of wasted talent in the background, like Arthur O'Connell, C. Montaue Shaw, and Blue Washington, but director Jean Yarborough seems to have no interest in overcoming Monogram Pictures' lack of interest and budget.
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3/10
His Ship Comes In
26 February 2021
A bum is sleeping by the road when Scrappy roars up on his motorcycle -- he's a messenger in this cartoon -- to give him a telegram. His uncle has died and left him a million. While he goes into conniptions over his newfound wealth, Scrappy points out the word he missed. His uncle has left him a million cats. The bum doesn't listen, but begins to spend his wealth, telling everyone to send him the bill.

It's a one-joke cartoon, stretched out to almost seven minutes, with the punchline at the beginning. Competent animation can't begin to fill its lacks.
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5/10
Children Tending Children
26 February 2021
Scrappy runs the nursery in a big department store, where people can drop off their children while they shop. A mug drops off his bratty twin babies for Scrappy to deal with.

Aside from the basic construction of a small boy holding down a job like that, it's a mixed bag of gags. The one I liked best was probably intended as a conventional convenince for the artists; while the front of the department store has a 1920s Manhattan facade, the rear is a small, one-story residential house with a back yard to hang laundry to dry.
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6/10
Easy Learning
26 February 2021
It takes about 80 seconds of this cartoon from Scrappy staring blankly at the cover of LEARN TO PLAY THE PIANO IN TWELVE LESSONS to being an accomplished player of barrelhouse rag tunes. Fortunately, bratty Oopie is there to distract him.

Aside from the pleasant score by longtime Mintz employee Joe De Nat, there isn't that much about pianos in this. The gags mostly concern the distractions. SOme of them are pretty good, even though this series had long before lost the odd kid's viewpoint that made it unique in the early 1930s, under originator Dick Huemer. Now, however, he was working for Disney.
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6/10
Pre-War
26 February 2021
Here's the second of André de la Varre's SCREEN TRAVELER shorts I have seen. It's another of the series of travelogues that helped make up the 'selected short subjects'portion of a movie show, back in the day. de la Varre produced well more than a hundred of these from the early 1930s through 1957, with one outlier in 1963.

Unlike the better-known TRAVELTALKS series, or the stuff that Jack Cardiff cut his teeth on, this one is in black and white. There's little of poetry in the narrator's prose, just an effort to avoid using the same word more than once. His delivery suggests that he is pausing at the end of each ine of typescript. Ah, but the pictures!

That's why we go to the movies, after all: the motion pictures. We get to see two cities, Le Havre, where the principal occupation seems to be finding a good place to watch the ships come in; and the resort town of Etretat. The interesting stuff for me is the images of a pre-war Le Havre, much of which was destroyed during the Second WOrld War.
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6/10
Rambunctious
26 February 2021
Alma Taylor and Chrissie White play some tennis and then the boys give them piggy-back rides. This offends the matron, so she locks them in their room. They escape, put on boy's clothes, and lead the household in pranks and a chase.

The two young ladies starred in about twenty of these lively shorts, of which only a couple seem to survive. Miss White gave up her movie stardom in the middle of the 1920s for a family life, returning to the screen only a couple of times in the 1930s. She died in 1989, age 94.
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6/10
Just Borrowing
26 February 2021
Alma Taylor and Christie White take a fire engine and drive it around until they find a main site they can use to turn on the hose.

Only a touch over three minutes of this Hepworth comedy short survives, but it what there is is a lively affair, with the two young girls looking like they're having fun. Miss Taylor would become Hepworth's biggest sar in the early 1920s, and would appear in his beautifully shot rustic dramas. Alas, by the middle of the 1920s, tastes changed against these bucolic subjects, and by the time sound came in, she was reduced to supporting and later bit parts. She died in 1974, aged 79.
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3/10
Not Impressive
26 February 2021
If you've ever seen early movies about steelmaking, like FORGERONS, you can see the hellish conditions these men worked under.

This, despite the high quality of the British Mutoscopes in this period -- 65 mm. film and a far higher frame rate than the 15-30 frames per second that other film makers used -- is not in the least impressive. Although you may understand the enormous heat under which the steel runs, it looks like men with rakes, sledge hammers, and shovels working on a patch of ground.
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Dreams (1940)
6/10
When You're Feeling Blue
25 February 2021
This episode of John Nesbitt's long-running series for MGM concerns dreams -- you might have guessed that from the title. It offers three dreams, a couple of them common anxiety dreams that you might have had yourself. The third is one that this short claims that Abraham Lincoln had.

Was it prophetic, or just another anxiety dream? I think it's the latter, but you can't get much dramatic tension out of pure rationality, can you?

Fans of old movies and new will take some pleasure in knowing that one of the dreamers shown is Johnny Arthur, a comic actor of the silent and sound eras; anothe is Peter Cushing, onyl 27 years old, but instantly recognizable. The performer playing Lincln is uncredited.
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High Stakes (1931)
6/10
Screen Chemistry
25 February 2021
Edward Martindel is enchanted with his young bride, Mae Murray (in her last screen role). They have so much in common, he tells his brother, perpetually drunk, unsuccessful playwright Lowell Sherman. He looks forward to finally having a child. After half a life with his now dead wife, he doesn't notice notice the affair she is carrying on with Leyland Hodgson any time he's not in direct view. Sherman does, though, and he wants to rescue his brother from her.... but doesn't know how to tell him and convince him without hurting him beyond the bounds of their loving fraternity.

There are problems with this movie, mostly concentrated in Mae Murray whose squeak, baby-doll voice and coy manner grates on my nerves; neither does Sherman's slurred speech, letting everyone know he's drunk all the time. On the other hand, Karen Morley as Martindel's secretary and Sherman's love interest is interestingly written and straightforwardly portrayed. Best of all is the chemistry between Martindel and Sherman as brothers. If you've been fortunate enogh to have someone you've been close with for so long you can't imagine life with that person, then you'll appreciate this movie.
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2/10
Ill-Natured Nonsense
25 February 2021
Willy Fritsch is an artist who has gone blind. Through a subplot that is never concluded, he winds up thinking Lil Dagover is another woman he has had a mysterious encounter with. The fall in love and wed, and have a daughter. When Fritsch goes to see a doctor to have his sight restored, he tells her he will know her instantly when he sees her. He doesn;t, and Mss Dagover runs away with the baby. When Willy kidnaps the baby, through connivance with his mother and the entire household staff, Miss Dagover presents herself as the bab's nurse, and they wind up falling in love again.

This nonsensical piffle was conceived by Benjamin Christensen as a purely commercial proposition, meant to restore his reputation after the commercial failure of Häxan. While these two beautiful people torment each other over trifles, and Fritsch is unable to recognize his own wife by scent and touch after she runs away in a snit, and his loving mother and the staff he pays conspire against him... well, Christiansen may have been a great film maker, but his idea of an enjoyable commercial movie isn't mine.

There's some great art direction by Hans Jacoby, but I rarely go to the movies to look at furniture.
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Fish Follies (1940)
6/10
Sounds Fishy To Me
25 February 2021
Scrappy visits an aquarium, where a uniformed docent tells him about the cartoon fish, with many a pun.

Scrappy only has one line in this cartoon; his presence is bring in the audience for the character, who was now in his ninth and final year. The docent is voiced by Mel Blanc, who does a voice midway between Sylvester the Cat and Jerry Colonna, as he rambles on about stewed clams reeling out of a saloon, and carps directing traffic. Theyre traffic carps, get it?

That's about it for this one. There are a few puns that are funny the first time, if you haven't beat the carp to the punchline.
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6/10
Puns
25 February 2021
Scrappy and his mongrel try to sneak into a dog show. Because it is for purebreds only, a guard keeps throwing them out.

The humor in this one is almost entirely puns on the names of the various breeds. Thus, the Doberman Pinschers keep pinching each other's cheeks. If you enjoy this sort of humor, you'll enjoy this cartoon.

Mel Blanc is listed on the IMDB as the (uncredited) voice of Scrappy. Given that Scrappy doesn't have any lines, this seems odd.
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L'ingrate (1910)
6/10
Be Careful Whom You Marry
25 February 2021
A woman in a ragged dress staggers to a road sign. A hunter comes by. She asks him for directions. He gives them and starts to leave, but she staggers, and he takes her home to his sister to care for. Later, he asks her to marry him and she agrees. However, one day while out shopping, she meets a rich hunter....

It's a well told tale, indicating how far story telling had come in cinema from its brief beginnings a decade and a half earlier. lthough it's all shot in medium long focus, the editing carries the tale right along.
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7/10
For Once The Catalogue Doesn't Exaggerate
25 February 2021
For the first ten or fifteen years of movies, they sold copies of their films to exhibitors; it wasn't until the rise of film exchanges, where exhibitors could rent motion picture,s and later their consolidation that the model began to change.s a result, the catalogues tended to exaggerate the beauty of their films. However, this is one time that the description was accurate. There is something majestic about a huge ocean liner coming down the ways, landing in the water and bouncing in the foam it raises.

And the Oceanic was the largest and last British ocean liner of the 1800s. As a vessel of the White Star Line, it was also asister ship of the Titanic. But that's another movie or thirty.
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6/10
The Treasure Hunt
24 February 2021
Scrappy and Oopie are deepsea fishing on their trawler when they find a map leading to a sunken treasure ship. Scrappy puts on his diving helmet and finds the chest containing treasure, but an obnoxious octopus gets in his way.

It's an attempted return to form for Scrappy, whose had started out under Dick Huemer as a boy who lived in a fantasy world without adults. After Huemer left, the character went through a couple of redesigns that made the series less weird, but this late cartoon, with its Termite-Terrace inspired confrontation, offers a bit of the old magic.
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Murder at 3am (1953)
5/10
In The End, A Dully Melodramatic Mystery
24 February 2021
Police inspector Dennis Price is called on to investigate a string of murders. The victims are women, their jewelry and cash is taken, and the murders always take place about 3AM. As the investigation advances, he comes to believe the perpetrator is Philip Saville, the boyfriend of his sister, Peggy Evans.

It's a cheap quota quicky directed by uninspired director Francis Searle. Price doesn't offer much in the way of an interesting performance. He is too unemotional and efficient, with no sign of brilliance, resulting in something like a procedural movie; it's a type of mystery that doesn't appeal to me. In addition, Eric Spear has provided an overwrought score performed on the organ that is downright annoying.
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5/10
Clip Show
24 February 2021
Gene Raymond and his wife, Sari Maritza, head off to a locale in Soviet Russia where he can with Irving Pichel. Raymond absorbs all the modern teachings, but Sari is an old-fashioned girl who believes in things like marriage. When Raymond falls for Pichel's lover, Marguerite Churchill, she is heartbroken.

The surrounding story is a framework to show 21 minutes of clips from THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, while priest Harry Beresford explains what the audience is seeing. Afterwards he's thrown off the site for spouting superstitious gibberish. I suppose it was a chance fr Paramount to get some extra box office from the 1923 smash hit. Louis Gasnier and William Schorr are co-credited for direction. Karl Struss handled the cameras, but the print I saw was in poor condition and nothing stood out.
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2/10
Dreams Of Schoolboy Lust
24 February 2021
Scrappy is late getting to school, but when the beautiful new school teacher shows up, he joins the other boys in class in a long wolf whistle.

Scrappy changed a whole lot from 1931, when Dick Huemer and company invented him. Back then he was a small boy living in a world in which adults were irrelevant, and his childlike imagination involved fantastic schemes and imaginative gags. Now here he was in a workaday life, with the gags confined to his inability to keep awake during classes.

I don't like it.
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5/10
We Never Got A Day Off For The Invention Of The Automobile
24 February 2021
A small child pulls the pages off a calendar, oene for each month, revealing a short skit on a holiday for that mnth

THe kid looks like Oopie, which would explain why it turned up in a bunch of Scrappy cartoons. It's a series of twelve short blackout gags, some of them celebrating holidays like Valentine Day and Back To School Day (boo!). It's not bad, it's not great. It was there on the scren for six minutes, and then it was done.

It's a lot like most things.
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6/10
Prototypical Synchronized Cartoon
24 February 2021
Krazy Kat lives on a small Polynesian island where he uses a variety of loval objects to play music, -- everything from Kitty to the waves dance along.

If you want to see what a synchronized cartoon looks like, this is as standard a version as you can get -- I looked at it on YouTube. The score is made up about 80% of "Aloha 'Oe", and everything sways to it, keeping movement on the beat. Gags are scarce, but decent. There is no dialogue of any sort. Clearly Ben Harrison and Manny Gould thought the selling points of this cartoon were the faux-exotic locale, and the fact that there was a score.
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