Cartoon Classics: Early Animation

1465. CARTGON CLASSICS #6: Early Animation (1906-1926-USA-France).
1. HUMOROUS PHASES OF FUNNY FACES (1906-USA). Directed by J. STUART BLACKTON. This pioneer filmmaker and animator began his career as a cartoonist and journalist for the New York “Sun.” He beÂcame involved in films in the first years of the century, when he did groundbreaking work with single frame animation, in fact, historians consider Humorous Phases of Funny Faces to be the first animated cartoon. While it’s a far cry from what animated films were to become, it’s still a fascinating curio. The images consist of a sometimes seenÑand other times unseenÑhand that draws faces, words, letters and objects.
2. ACTION ANTICS (1926-USA). Produced by BART FOSS. Special effects are the star of his oddity. Among the high lights: an animated creature builds a house on Mars, and a pair of dancers do the strangest Charleston you’ll ever see.
3. MODELING (1923-USA).Directed by DAVE FLEISCHER. Brothers DAVE and MAX FLEISCHER were, during the 1930s, the chief rivals of Walt Disney. One of their earliest and most beloved series was titled “Out of the Inkwell,” which they began in 1919. Modeling stars Koko the Clown, one of the series’ mainstays. The Fleischers expertly combine animation, live action, and stop action, in this tale of a sculptor, creating a bust, who tangles with the playful clown.
4. ADAM RAISES CAIN (1920-USA). Directed by TONY SARG. Tony Sarg, a little-known animator, worked with three-dimensional puppets in silhouette. Very few of his films survive today. However, some intriguing Imagery highlights this featurette that traces the comic plight of a father, mother and baby, and some odd- looking animals. An imaginative use of animation.
5. PRINCESS NICOTINE (The Smoke fairy) (1909-USA). Directed by J. STUART BLACKTON, Blackton cleverly uses trick photography in this surreal play let in which the title lady and her assistant fiddle with a gentleman’s pipe and matchbox.
6. THE EVILS OF ALCOHOL (1912-France). SWAT THE FLY (1916-USA). MORPHEUS MIKE (1915-USA). Here are a trio of some early attempts at producing animated effects. The Evils of Alcohol utilizes a basic, primitive cartoon approach in its depiction of an alcoholic’s plight. Swat the Fly (also known as Miracles in Mud, from the “Universal Screen Magazine” series) uses a single frame, stop-action technique. What we see is a lump of modeling clay that becomes a faceÑand then another-and then another. Morpheus Mike makes clever use of animated puppets to chronicle the title character’s story.
7. R.F.D. 10,000 B.C. (1917-USA). Produced by WILLIS O’BRIEN. Like J. Stuart Blackton, Willis O’Brien began his career as a newspaper cartoonist. He was to go on to become one of Hollywood’s top special effects technicians. However, commencing in 1914, he began creating short trick films, like R.F.D. 10,000 B.C. which allowed O’Brien to hone his craft and prepare for the large monkey atop the tall building. Silent films with original organ score, correct projection speed. 56 minutes total. ÒSilentÓ Cartoons