The Prize Guest (1939)
Article 5969 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Mannie Davis and Connie Rasinski
Voice cast unknown
What it is: Terrytoons
A strange guest who signs his name with a question mark arrives at a hotel. His curious behavior catches the attention of the hotel detective, who vows to keep an eye on him.
The curious behavior includes levitation and having a disappearing dog, which to my mind puts us in a magical/mystical mode and in the territory of the fantastic. Like a lot of other Terrytoons cartoons, it doesn’t quite work; for example, there’s something a bit off in how the hotel detective reacts to things. Still, this is one of their cartoons where the strangeness is intriguing rather than alienating, and I myself grew quite curious as to what the strange guest’s secret would prove to be. And even if I do find that final revelation a bit of a disappointment, I’m not sure I could think of one that would be much better. Nevertheless, this is one of the studio’s more engaging entries.