Hot Dog (1930)

HOT DOG (1930)
Article 4140 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-27-2013
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Cartoon

A car-driving dog tries to pick up girls, and finds himself arrested and on trial for abducting one.

Some of the early Fleischer talking cartoons (or Talkartoons, as they were called) weren’t really that good, but if this one is any indication, they were weird and a little racy. In this one, an early version of Bimbo the dog makes passes to women on the street (most of whom look like they’re women of the night, or at the least, not very fussy), but is repeatedly turned down. The one exception is a woman so ugly, he retreats. Eventually he abducts a woman (by having his car scoop her up in one of its seats) and begins trying to kiss her. The cops catch him and he goes to trial, where his testimony consists of a banjo solo. There’s lots of weird cartoon imagery (such as one of the women spontaneously sprouting roller skates) which, surreal as it is, is hardly funny, and the whole thing ends up more warped than fun. Still, it is interesting to see some of the touches that they would improve on over the years.

Hooligan Assists the Magician (1900)

HOOLIGAN ASSISTS THE MAGICIAN (1900)
Article 4139 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-26-2013
Directed by Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton
Featuring J. Stuart Blackton
Country: USA
What it is: Comic magic trick movie

Happy Hooligan comes on stage while a magician is performing a trick with barrels, and soon finds himself dealing with more than he bargained for.

Happy Hooligan was a popular comic strip character of the time, and he was featured in several movies. From what I can tell, he’s your basic clown, and most of this movie is a mixture of Melies-style magic tricks and clown shenanigans. It’s competent and mildly amusing, but nothing really special.

The Hilarious Posters (1906)

THE HILARIOUS POSTERS (1906)
aka Les affiches en goguette
Article 4138 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-24-2013
Directed by Georges Melies
Featuring Georges Melies
Country: France
What it is: Comic trick film

The characters in a wall of posters come to life and torment some local policemen.

I get the impression from the title that this is supposed to be one of Melies’s funnier shorts. Sadly, it doesn’t really work all that well on that level; the comic bits are dull, unfocused and vague. Quite frankly, I find the special effects the highlight here, especially when the posters first come to life; the way the various posters look like they would have to inhabit the spaces of the other posters in order for the actors to fit into them makes for a bit of an interesting puzzle in trying to figure out how the effects were done. It might be a bit more amusing if you can read the French writing on the posters themselves, but I’m out of luck there. It’s not one of Melies’s best, but it has points of interest.

The Hat with Many Surprises (1901)

THE HAT WITH MANY SURPRISES (1901)
aka Le chapeau a surprises
Article 4133 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-17-2013
Directed by Georges Melies
Featuring Georges Melies
Country: France
What is it: Magic film

A gentleman uses his hat to set up a fancy dinner, using it to provide tableware, chairs, and even dinner guests.

This is another of Melies’s “magic” films, but it does have a little novelty in the fact that it actually has something of a theme; rather than using the hat to produce random items, it’s actually focused on the issue of setting up a dinner. He even has to increase the size of the hat at one point so it can disgorge chairs and dinner guests, as well as a servant. Granted, it all goes to pieces during the last half minute or so, with the table vanishing and a painting coming to life, but that’s Melies for you. I’d rate this one as one of the better of this particular genre of short for him.

Hare Ribbin’ (1944)

HARE RIBBIN’ (1944)
Cartoon
Article 4132 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-16-2013
Directed by Robert Clampett
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc and Sam Wolfe
Country: USA
What it is: Bugs Bunny cartoon

Bugs Bunny has to contend with a red Russian poodle who is stalking him.

Since Bugs Bunny is a talking rabbit, he falls under the classification of “fantasy” and is fair game for this series. This isn’t the best of the Bugs Bunny cartoons, but it is pretty typical of the period; Bugs runs into a fairly dim character who is hunting him, and humiliates him through various means. In this one, Bugs dresses up as a mermaid and plays a game of tag with the dog; he also pretends to be a French waiter trying to make him a rabbit sandwich (which leads him to put on an Elmer Fudd accent, who does not appear in the short), and finally, tricks the dog into committing suicide; I think the latter gag is the reason the cartoon also appears on a set of banned cartoons I have. The user comments on IMDB seem mystified by the dog and his Russian accent, but I suspect he’s a parody of Bert Gordon, the Mad Russian, a comic actor of the era; he does use Gordon’s “How do you do!” catchphrase at one point.

Hot Water (1924)

HOT WATER (1924)
Article 4118 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-28-2012
Directed by Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor
Featuring Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Josephine Crowell
Country: USA
What it is: Comedy

A newlywed discovers that married life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be… especially when the in-laws show up.

As this movie was closing in on its last few minutes, I found myself scratching my head over what the fantastic content was, and found myself checking the Don Willis guide (which listed the movie) and the Walt Lee guide (which consigned it to the “out” list). I was just about to consign it to the land of genre false alarms when the movie, in the last four minutes, threw in all of the fantastic elements at once; there’s a resurrection from the dead, a ghost, a haunted house, and a crawling hand. Granted, they’re all misunderstandings, but at least they were finally there.

As for the movie in its entirety, I found it a highly entertaining entry in the oeuvre of Harold Lloyd. Like so many of the comedies of this type, it plays like a series of shorts, and falls roughly into three sections. In the first, Harold has to negotiate his way home while carrying a huge amount of groceries, a problem further complicated when he wins a prize turkey that is very much alive. The second section has Lloyd taking the family out for a spin in the new family car, only to have disaster follow in its wake. The final sequence has Lloyd getting drunk so he can stand up to his mother-in-law, but ends up mistakenly believing that he has inadvertently murdered her; it is the complications that follow this sequence that lead to the fantastic content. Lloyd is such a confident and likable presence that he makes it all work smoothly; my favorite sequence has him mistaking the meaning of the actions and words of several people to reinforce his fear that he has committed murder. This is a truly amusing comedy.

The House of Fear (1945)

THE HOUSE OF FEAR (1945)
Article 4075 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-11-2012
Directed by Roy William Neill
Featuring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Aubrey Mather
Country: USA
What it is: Holmes in an old dark house

When a society known as the “Good Comrades” begins being knocked off one by one in horrible ways, an insurance investigator calls in Sherlock Holmes to look in on the case.

I thought I was done with the Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, but, for some reason, this one got lost in the shuffle and I didn’t really catch its omission at the time. That’s a shame; most of the series is pretty light on the fantastic content, but this one places Holmes in what amounts to a variation of the “old dark house” pattern, with residents in a spooky old castle being knocked off one by one. Though it is mainly a mystery, we have hints that the castle is haunted, there’s a scene of a coffin being dug up in a graveyard, there are secret passages in the house… yes, there’s a lot of horror atmosphere in this one. It’s partially based on “The Five Orange Pips”. It is one of those movies, though, that makes me appreciate why many Holmes purists can’t stand Nigel Bruce’s interpretation of Dr. Watson; he seems particularly dim in this one, though he does at least have the instinct to recognize when he’s stumbled across an important clue at one point. The mystery itself isn’t too difficult; I had a strong inkling of what was going on after the third murder. Still, this is a pretty entertaining entry in the series.