Marionettes (1939)

Article 5207 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-17-2016
Directed by Ben Carleton
Cast unknown
Country: UK
What it is: Eerie amateur movie short

A puppeteer becomes enamored with a life-size female dancer marionette, but becomes jealous when she seems to prefer another life-size marionette, a clown. However, this is all in the puppeteer’s mind, isn’t it?…

Since most of my sources understandably pay little attention to the world of amateur film, I rarely venture there myself in my cinematic journeys. However, the Walt Lee guide is an exception, and its listings include this film from Ben Carleton, who made movies as a hobby. This one was made in 1939, but had to wait until 1948 to get shown due to the advent of WWII. Now “amateur” doesn’t mean the same thing as “amateurish”, and this eerie little tale (shot silently with music) is well acted, well edited, and quite effective; it’s better than many professional films I’ve seen. Even given the fact that it was shot silent, it actually feels a bit more modern than other films of the era, and that’s quite an accomplishment.


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