Sinbad the Sailor (1935)

Sinbad the Sailor (1935)
Article 5994 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-24-2021
Directed by Ub Iwerks, Shamus Culhane, Al Eugster
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Ub Iwerks Comicolor cartoon

Sinbad tussles with pirates on the high seas.

Most Sinbad adaptations have fantastic content of some sort and this one is no exception, but it’s not until the roc shows up as part of the storyline does it truly qualify as fantastic cinema beyond the bounds of comic exaggeration. It’s a solid but not particularly inspired effort from Ub Iwerks, but I’ve always preferred his Flip the Frog cartoons to his Comicolor series. And as far as Sinbad cartoons go, this one doesn’t hold a candle to the Popeye adaptation of the story. And though I usually like to highlight a favorite moment when I review cartoons, there’s nothing in this one that really stands out.

Shuffle Off to Buffalo (1933)

Shuffle Off to Buffalo (1933)
Article 5993 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-18-2021
Directed by Friz Freleng and Rudolf Ising
Featuring the voices of Johnny Murray and the Rhymettes
Country: USA
What it is: Early Warner Brothers cartoon

We visit the assembly line at the baby delivery factory and get to hear the title song warbled.

I’m not sure that the presence of storks delivering babies in a cartoon is enough for me to definitely move the cartoon into the realm of the fantastic, but the existence of a factory with an assembly line that preps the babies for delivery is enough, especially as it appears that the main person in charge is Father Time himself (though he isn’t explicitly named as such). It’s a typical early thirties Warner Brothers cartoon; it opens with a series of gags surrounding the situation and then finds every chance it can to perform the title song. In the process we get a handful of celebrity caricatures; Eddie Cantor is the most prominent, but Joe E. Brown and Ed Wynn both pop up. The best gag involves the labels for the twins delivered to Nanook of the North.

A Short Vision (1956)

A Short Vision (1956)
Article 5992 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-12-2021
Directed by Joan Foldes and Peter Foldes
Featuring the voice of James McKechnie
Country: UK
What it is: Succinct apocalypse

A vision is seen in the night skies over with. Those who see it share the same fate as those who don’t.

Here’s a worthy effort of British experimental animation. As anybody who has seen a theatrical cartoon can attest, the fact that you only run about six minutes doesn’t mean that not a lot can happen. In that short a time, the world can end, as it does here. And I think the point being made here is that it ends not just for a few certain souls, but for all. The prey, the predator, the awake, the asleep… none are spared. No, this isn’t a cheery cartoon, nor is it funny. Still, it is a bit too short to work up to a real emotional kick. Nevertheless, it’s a worthy effort.

Short and Suite (1959)

Short and Suite (1959)
Article 5991 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-12-2021
Directed by Norman McLaren
No cast
Country: Canada
What it is: Abstract animation to jazz music

Here’s another foray into abstract animation from Canada’s master of the form, Norman McLaren. The abstractness dominates here, though it does pop into the representational for fleeting moments, usually just long enough for the viewer to recognize it as such before it runs back into abstraction. If there’s any plot here, it’s due to individual interpretation; I like to see it as a dance between abstract figures. This one is solid, but I don’t think it’s my favorite from McLaren’s oeuvre.

The Shoemaker and the Elves (1935)

The Shoemaker and the Elves (1935)
Article 5990 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-11-2021
Directed by Arthur Davis
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Columbia Color Rhapsody

As a reward for taking in a freezing, helpless waif on a winter night, a shoemaker is visited by elves who make shoes for him all through the night while he sleeps.

If I were to count the number of times I’ve reviewed each fairy tale adaptation I’ve seen, I wouldn’t be surprised if the winner was “Cinderella”. And this story is the one I suspect would be in second place, which I do find surprising, as it never struck me as a particularly popular fairy tale. Still, I do prefer the animated versions to some of the live-action ones I’ve seen; the latter tend to be filled with endless scenes of elves building shoes, which gets very old; at least a cartoon keeps the action abbreviated. The most striking thing about this adaptation is the addition of the starving waif, which implies that the cobbler has received the attention of the elves due to his unselfish act of charity for the waif (though the cartoon doesn’t make that explicit). The gags are standard, though we do get a couple of famous star caricatures in the mix, namely, those of Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo. Other than that, this is mostly business as usual.

Shiver Me Timbers! (1934)

Shiver Me Timbers! (1934)
Article 5989 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-11-2021
Directed by Dave Fleischer and Willard Bowsky
Featuring the voices of William Costello and Mae Questal
Country: USA
What it is: Popeye vs. Ghosks

Popeye, Olive Oyl and Wimpy board a pirate ship and are set upon by spooks and skeletons.

Here’s a Popeye short that doesn’t need the spinach excuse to argue its inclusion in fantastic cinema; the wealth of ghosts and skeletons does that. It’s also nice that it’s one of the earlier cartoons of the series when the quality was somewhat higher. The gags are typical of the genre but rather creative at times. It also made me wonder more about the power of spinach in these cartoons; you’d think the increase in physical power wouldn’t have much of an effect on non-physical entities, but it apparently does seem to give Popeye the power to battle of the winds; at least that’s the interpretation I put on the appearance of a character appearing from the stormy ocean. This is definitely one of the better Popeyes.

Shaolin Brothers (1977)

Shaolin Brothers (1977)
aka Shao Lin xiong di
Article 5988 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-5-2021
Directed by Joseph Kuo
Featuring Carter Wong, Chun-Erh Lung, Pao-Shan Chang
Country: Hong Kong
What it is: Your cinematic source for viewing aggressive rounds of patty-cake.

There are these Shaolin brothers and they are caught up confusing political allegiances and deal with it by-playing full-touch charades.

For the record, I made that up; this movie was so confusing I found very little in the way of plot threads to help me. I’m not even sure whether there are any Shaolin brothers in the story, as I’ve come to distrust the American titles for any of these martial arts movies. However, I can attest that it does have hopping zombies; in fact a good portion of the middle of the movie is all about a magician transporting a group of hopping zombies to another place. The movie prepares you for this with a prelude to the action that talks about the nature of these hopping zombies. The movie does dredge up a certain amount of mood from these scenes, though much of it is played for laughs. Those who like lots of action and use expository scenes as an excuse to raid the fridge may like it best if they stock up before the movie starts. The best part for me was the hopping zombie sequence; at least I had a little idea of what was going on in it.

Shaker Run (1985)

Shaker Run (1985)
Article 5987 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-4-2021
Directed by Bruce Morrison
Featuring Cliff Robertson, Leif Garrett, Lisa Harrow
Country: New Zealand / USA
What it is: Car chase movie

A New Zealand research scientist steals a deadly bio-agent from her lab because the military wants to develop it as a weapon. She hires a race-car driver to transport it across the country to her contact, but he doesn’t know how much trouble this will cause him.

I could skip reviewing this one if I wanted to, but it’s been a while since my last review and it is listed in one of the John Stanley guides. Even there, they dismiss it as little more than a car chase movie, and it has to be said that the bio-agent (the only fantastic content in the movie) serves purely as a gizmo maguffin; no one would be chasing anybody if it didn’t exist. As a car chase movie, I found it moderately entertaining, if nothing special. At least there’s a sense of humor to the proceedings and a lot of the movie floats on Cliff Robertson’s charisma. Still, you do have to wonder about the gullibility of someone who thinks they can prevent the bio-agent from being developed by the military by turning it over to the CIA, but that particular thorny issue is ignored by the end of the movie.