Bear Feat (1949)

BEAR FEAT (1949)
Article 4036 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-19-2012
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voices of Bea Benederet, Billy Bletcher, Stan Freberg
Country: USA
What it is: Three bears cartoon

When Papa Bear gets the idea to train the family to become a trick bear act for the circus, he finds he has contend with his overeager and destructive son, Baby Bear.

The addition of the Walt Lee guide to my sources for my movie hunt lists has opened up the floodgates to a form that heretofore I’ve only flirted with for this project – the cartoon. The reason for this is that most of my other sources restrict themselves to feature-length films, and the only other source that really aspires to completeness (the Don Willis guides) restricts itself to Horror and Science Fiction, thereby skipping the primary fantastic genre (Fantasy) to which cartoons belong. As a lover of animation, I’m not going to complain.

This is one of the Three Bears cartoons made by Chuck Jones in the late forties/early fifties, featuring the furiously angry Papa Bear, the game but whiny Mama Bear, and the oversized walking disaster area Baby Bear. It’s one of those series that really didn’t use Mel Blanc all that much. This is pretty typical of the series, with Papa Bear suffering all sorts of indignities and accidents caused by a combination of his own bad temper and Baby Bear’s penchant for leaving destruction in his wake. My favorite moment here is a gag involving a somersault act into an easy chair; it’s one of those gags that takes its own sweet time making its way to a great punch line.

Monsieur de Crac (1912)

aka Baron Munchhausen
Article 4035 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-18-2012
Directed by Emile Cohl
No cast
Country: France
What it is: Animated comic adventures

Monsieur de Crac travels the world and has a series of amazing adventures.

Emile Cohl was a lot better at animating flights of fancy than he was at telling a story, and this is largely a disconnected series of adventures in which various strange and amazing things happen. Monsieur de Crac travels the world on his horse, survives being cut in half, descends into a volcano, learns to fly, etc. Though it’s amusing enough, one can start sensing a little the limitations of his style here, and I can’t help but think that that Winsor McCay was just around the corner here preparing to take animation to a whole new level. Still, it is a lot of fun to see these Cohl animated shorts.

The Ballet-Master’s Dream (1903)

aka Le reve du maitre de ballet
Article 4034 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-17-2012
Directed by Georges Melies
Featuring Georges Melies, Zizi Papillon
Country: France
What it is: Trick short

A ballet master, frustrated in his attempts to work out a dance step, retires for the night. He is assailed by a dream of a ballerina performing in the netherworld.

Here’s another of Melies’s more minor entries. It’s pretty light on the special effects sequences, and seems more interested in the dance sequences themselves. Melies plays the ballet-master, and he shows that he himself is pretty light on his feet on occasion. I suppose that’s not really surprising; given the numerous occasions dancing girls appear in his shorts, he must have had an affection for the form.

The Bachelor’s Paradise (1901)

aka Chez la sorciere
Article 4033 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-16-2012
Directed by Georges Melies
Cast unknown
Country: France
What is it: Trick short

A man pays a witch to provide him with a beautiful woman. After taking his choice from a magically-conjured assortment, he proceeds to romance her. However, witches are notorious pranksters, and…

When dealing with witches, always read the fine print and get a money back guarantee, or else you’ll make an ass of yourself… or the witch will. This is the type of short Melies could have made in his sleep by this time. It’s mildly amusing, but far from his best work.

Aunt Sallie’s Wonderful Bustle (1901)

Article 4032 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-14-2012
Director unknown
Cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: comic short

Aunt Sallie falls over a railing. Can her bustle save her?

You know, when your movie’s fantastic content consists solely of a visual gag, it’s rather difficult to argue that it’s legitimately genre. However, when your movie is one minute long and the whole point of it is that single gag, at least you can argue for inclusion a little more convincingly. I hope this doesn’t mean I’m going to be covering a rash of bouncing bustle movies; I don’t think you can really go very far with the concept. And, once again, it will probably take you longer to read this review than watch the movie on YouTube, where I found it.

Das Feuerzeug (1959)

aka The Tinder-Box
Article 4031 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-13-2012
Directed by Siegfried Hartmann
Featuring Rolf Ludwig, Heinz Schubert, Rolf Defrank
Country: East Germany
What it is: Fairy tale

A wandering soldier discovers a magic hollowed-out tree where three giant dogs guard a fortune in gold. He decides to use his money to win the love of a princess, but when he loses his money, all he has left is a tinder-box that he also found in the tree. However, the tinder-box is far from ordinary…

For the third day in a row, I’m saddled with a foreign movie sans English subtitles. However, this one is a fairy tale, and I’ve discovered that these movies are some of the easiest to follow, since the plot elements are usually pretty familiar. I’ve not read the Hans Christian Andersen story this one is based on, but it’s very easy to scope out; it’s basically a variation on the Aladdin story. Some of these German fairy tale movies are pretty dull, but this one seems solid and charming, and is perhaps one of the better ones of its ilk. Furthermore, the special effects are actually pretty decent. I enjoyed this one, even with the language problems involved.

E piu facile che un cammello… (1950)

aka His Last Twelve Hours
Article 4030 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-12-2012
Directed by Luigi Zampa
Featuring Jean Gabin, Elli Parvo, Antonella Lualdi
Country: France / Italy
What it is: Fantasy drama

When an industrialist dies suddenly, he discovers that the way to heaven is blocked due to bad deeds he has done during his life. He is given twelve hours to return to Earth and do a good deed, but this may prove more difficult than it seems…

This movie has been sitting on my hunt list for a couple of years, but it finally popped up on YouTube, which goes to show that patience can pay off. Unfortunately, it’s in Italian without English subtitles. I read a couple of plot descriptions that helped me with the basic storyline, so I wasn’t completely lost; however, it’s one of those stories that gains most of its flavor from details that are lost to me due to the language barrier. Therefore, I can’t really give an honest opinion of the movie other than to say that it seems passable but hardly great, and though it has a couple of interesting visual moments, it’s hardly enough to compensate for the language barrier. There’s little more that I can say other than this one is now checked off my list.