Along the Moonbeam Trail (1920)

Article 5354 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-24-2017
Directed by Herbert M. Dawley and Willis H. O’Brien
Featuring Herbert M. Dawley, Alan Day, Chauncey Day
Country: USA
What it is: Dream fantasy

Two children and their uncle dream they encounter a fairy queen who grants them their wish for a magic aeroplane that will take them into outer space. They end up on a planet inhabited by dinosaurs.

I’ve been a bit lucky lately with movies on my “ones that got away” list; several have turned up in the last few weeks. This one may have been on the list the longest; it was considered lost until its rediscovery recently, and I’ve now had a chance to see the restored copy. The credits above are a combination of what is on IMDB and what I found on the movie itself. I believe the O’Brien credit above may be incorrect and the movie is entirely Dawley’s work. I knew the short involved dinosaurs (which is probably why it was originally attributed to O’Brien), but I always thought it had a curious title for a dinosaur movie. There’s actually a lot more fantastic content here than just the dinosaurs; fairies, magic aeroplanes, cosmic gods subbing as traffic directors, and human-faced moons all make appearances, and the first half is more like a Melies fantasy than a dinosaur movie. The dinosaurs show up for the second half; there’s a Stegosaurus, a Trachodon, a Pterodactyl and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The short isn’t quite complete; the ending is missing, for one thing, but the restoration has a summary of the ending, though the remaining footage was probably enough for you to figure out how it would end. This fantasy is a lot of fun, and I’m glad it’s become generally available.

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