aka The Mascot, The Devil’s Ball
Article 5461 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Wladyslaw Starewicz
What it is: Bizarre puppet animation
When the ailing daughter of a toymaker asks for an orange, she is told they don’t have the money for one. However, a stuffed dog made by the toymaker hears the request. When the stuffed dog is sold, he escapes and manages to find an orange for the girl, but can he avoid having it stolen in a demonic nightclub?
I first became familiar with this Starewicz short via a shortened version known as THE DEVIL’S BALL, which focuses on the nightclub scene. This sequence is definitely the highlight of this short; it’s a masterpiece of bizarre animation, with nightmarish and freaky characters; it certainly had an influence on THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. However, the story is utterly obscured in that version, and the short USA version known as THE MASCOT is longer, it’s still only half the length of the full short, and omits some of the ball footage as well. Fortunately, I managed to see the full French version, and though I couldn’t understand some of the dialogue, there’s really not a lot of it, and the short is overwhelmingly visual. This is perhaps Starewicz’s masterpiece, and it even has a subplot or two added to the mix, most notably a romance between a clown and a ballet dancer (both dolls). Highly recommended. Incidentally, when I decided to abandon my “Movie of the Day” approach to this project and opened it up to watching what I chose to watch for the series, this was one of the first items I knew I had to see.