THE SCARECROW (1921)
Article 5425 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Wladyslaw Starewicz
Featuring Wladyslaw Starewicz and Nina Star
What it is: Animated hallucinations
When a gardener given to drink, gambling, and losing his temper is exhausted by the pranks of some children, he hallucinates that he has to win back his soul from the devil via cards. However, the gardener is also a master cheater…
The introduction to this cartoon features a quote from Starewicz on the subject of his marionettes, who he saw as actors and modeled off of people he knew. That may account for the fact that his animated characters are so brimming with character. Part of the joy of this short is watching the puzzled reactions of the various imps and devils as they seem mystified over how they can be losing the card games so badly. Unlike many of Starewicz’s shorts, this one is partially live action, with about half of the short involving the gardener’s dealings with mischievous kids; Starewicz himself plays the gardener. This short has only a so-so reputation on IMDB, but I’m always charmed by Starewicz’s mastery of his craft, and I enjoyed this one no less than I have the other works I’ve seen of his.