Daily Archives: March 6, 2010

The Band Concert

“A Mickey Mouse Cartoon”

Mickey Mouse
Donald Duck
Goofy (in two possible rolls)
Clarabelle Cow
Horace Horsecollar
Peter Pig

Director : Wilfred Jackson
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Ugo D’Orsi
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Gerry Geronomi
Hustzi Horvath
Dick Heumer
Jack Kinney
Wolfgang Reitherman
Archie Robin
Louie Schmitt
Dick Williams
Roy Williams
Cy Young

Story and Layout
Hugh Hennesy & Terrell Stapp

Release date: February 23, 1935

Running Time: 9:18

The Band Concert was the first ever Mickey Mouse cartoon in colour and it is probably my favourite Mickey cartoon. Mickey here is a supporting player in his own cartoon, upstage by his co-star Donald Duck several times during the film. This was just Donald’s third or fourth film appearance and he truly shines and shows off his comic potential. The cartoon has wonderful timing and the music is great too. Some of the animation is very beautiful too.  I try to watch this film every couple of months, so I put my Mickey Mouse In Living Color dvd on just for this occasion.

(This Youtube clip is missing the opening titles!!!)

This is my final look at short films this week. They were such an important part of a movie going experience until 40-50 years ago but now it’s a rarity to see anything other than lame commercials before a main feature. Short films did find a new lease on life on TV, especially cartoons shorts and comedies by the Three Stooges and Laurel & Hardy in particular.

The Music Box

Directed by James Parrott
Produced by Hal Roach
Written by H.M. Walker
Starring Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy
Music by Harry Graham, Marvin Hatley & Leroy Shield
Cinematography Len Powers & Walter Lundin
Editing by Richard C. Currier
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) April 16, 1932 (1932-04-16)
Running time 30 minute

The Music Box is probably Laurel & Hardy‘s best known short film. This is the one where Stan and Ollie are moving guys who try to get a player piano up a set of stairs. After several painstaking attempts they finally get the piano into it’s new home, but not in one piece. There’s lots of clever slapstick and funny bits where you just have to wonder about the intelligence, or otherwise, of Stan & Ollie.

Like with a lot of Laurel & Hardy films many of the gags in this short film have been endlessly immitated, with mixed results, over the years, but this is where they all originated from.

It’s a shame that the wonderful fun of Laurel & Hardy seems to have gone out of favour in recent times. They don’t seem to have the same love these days as say the Three Stooges or the Marx Bros. I remember when Bill Collins (or was it Ivan Hutchinson) would show their feature films on a Sunday afternoon back in the 80s. It would be great to be able to see these films on TV again.

The Immigrant

Directed by Charles Chaplin & Edward Brewer (technical director)
Produced by John Jasper
Written by Charles Chaplin (scenario), Vincent Bryan (scenario) & Maverick Terrell (scenario)
Starring Charles Chaplin
Edna Purviance
Eric Campbell
Cinematography Roland H. Totheroh & George C. Zalibra
Editing by Charles Chaplin
Distributed by Mutual Film Corporation
Release date(s) June 17, 1917
Running time 20 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent film
English intertitles

By 1917 Charlie Chaplin had starred in several successful short comedies, yet it was this film that shot him to superstardom. It features a tale of a poor immigrant who travels to America to seek his fortune through the boundless opportunity provided in the land of the free.

Charlie was still refining his art so this film feels a lot like the typical silent slapstick film of the early part of last century. The Tramp character had started to develop into a character, more than just a gag. Chaplin started to use emotion and pathos in his comedies at this time which helped to distinguish them from their contemporaries.

This short may not be as great as The Kid, City Lights, The Goldrush or Modern Times but it is funny and shows Chaplin just as he was before he became his most creative.

You Nazty Spy!

Directed by Jules White
Produced by Jules White
Written by Felix Adler
Starring: Moe Howard
Larry Fine
Curly Howard

Richard Fiske
Lorna Gray
Dick Curtis
Don Beddoe
Florine Dickson
Little Billy
John Tyrrell
Bert Young
Joe Murphy
Eddie Laughton
Al Thompson
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) January 19, 1940
Running time 17′ 59″
Country United States
Language English

Satire was never the Three Stooges forte, they were known more for their slapstick and poking each other in the eyes, yet their greatest film was a satirical look at World War II that was more biting than anything that Chaplin could do. In fact this film was released nine months before Chaplin’s The Great Dictator! Moe was the first ever actor to spoof Hitler.

This is a most unusual short when compared to the Stooges other films. I suppose that is because it is quite clever and not as one dimensional as their other movies. I suppose that they were more venomous and serious with their humour because of their Jewish heritage and to make a profound statement about the atrocities happening in Europe at the time.

Popeye The Sailor Meets Sindbad The Sailor

Directed by Dave Fleischer
Produced by Max Fleischer
Voices by Jack Mercer (Popeye)
Mae Questel (Olive Oyl)
Gus Wickie (Bluto)
Music by Sammy Timberg, Sammy Lerner & Bob Rothberg
Animation by Willard Bowsky, George Germanetti, Edward Nolan & Orestes Calpini
Studio Fleischer Studios
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) November 27, 1936
Color process Technicolor
Running time 16 min (two reels)
Language English

Today I am going to do something a little different. Instead of watching a feature film I have watched a number of great short films. The first of those is this one from 1936, Popeye The Sailor Meets Sindbad The Sailor.

Now I know what you grown ups will be saying, cartoons are strictly for kids. That is simply rubbish. So many artists worked on this, so many drawings done, for this simply to be something to amuse children.

These Fleischer Popeye cartoons have become my favourites and it is easy to see why. Whilst they were never the best animated cartoons they do have a grittiness about them that is different to what the other studios, notably Disney, were doing.

I also love the 3D backgrounds that Fleischer used here and in their other cartoons too. This gave them a unique feeling as did the great ad-libbing between Jack Mercer, Mae Questel and Gus Wickie.

It is easy to forget how popular Popeye was and just how important short cartoons were on a film program. In the 1930s, 40s and 50s patrons would often go to the cinema just to see Popeye, Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny rather than the feature length film that the cartoons accompanied.