One Little Indian (1954)

One Little Indian (1954)
Article 6055 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-30-2022
Directed by Grant Munro
Voice cast unknown
Country: Canada
What it is: Animated puppet safety short.

An Indian boy magician arrives in the big city as part of a rodeo. Though he proves to be an adept magician, will he be able deal with dangerous traffic in the big city?

Though now the company is the province of making available old sex and porn footage, there was a time when Something Weird Video dealt with other films as well. One interesting thing that they did was to throw in extras at the end of their VHS releases; my copy of the Mexican LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD tape ended with a variety of kiddie movie trailers and this rather obscure Canadian safety short; there’s very little info about it on IMDB. The only reason this one qualifies is that the boy is a magician (the short opens with him performing his act); had his profession been something else, I wouldn’t be covering it. As it is, it’s a pretty ordinary affair; the animation is so-so at best and the messages are pretty obvious. Nevertheless, it is a pleasure to discover that you have a hidden obscurity on the edges of your collection that you might have never found if you had struck out to look for it on your own.

Once Upon a Time (1937)

Once Upon a Time (1937)
Article 6032 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-16-2022
Directed by F. Lyle Goldman
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Public service driving safety cartoon

In the world of fairy tales, two demons (Carelessness and Discourtesy) escape from Pandora’s box and encourage residents to engage in reckless driving.

I was a bit surprised this cartoon was made during the thirties, as it has moments that feel like belongs to the psychedelic era of the sixties. Still, the style didn’t feel like the sixties either; in fact, it has rather a style of its own. This sense of style is what makes this cartoon rather fun; I quite enjoyed this despite its didactic quality. Worth checking out for those of us who like exploring the nooks and crannies of animation.

Out of the Inkwell (1938)

Out of the Inkwell (1938)
Article 5956 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-26-2021
Directed by Dave Fleischer and Thomas Johnson
Featuring Oscar Polk and the voice of Bonnie Poe
Country: USA
What it is: Betty Boop cartoon

A black janitor learns hypnotism out of a book and he uses his power to create Betty Boop out of an inkwell and makes her do tricks. However, the worm turns when Betty finds the book and learns how to hypnotize…

I do like that the title of this one is the same as the original silent cartoon series that popularized Koko the Clown and that, like those cartoons, this one is a combination of live action and animation. I also like that we actually get to read the book’s instructions for hypnotism ourselves (which also works on inanimate objects), but don’t get too elated, because it doesn’t work (I know. I tried it.) Less likable is the lazy black stereotype played by Oscar Polk. It’s also a pretty tame cartoon in comparison to the earlier wilder (pre-code) Betty Boops. Betty would have about one more year before she would be retired.

Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon (1994)

Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon (1994)
aka Yamato Takeru
Article 5955 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-25-2021
Directed by Takao Okawara
Featuring Masahiro Takashima, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Hiroshi Fujioka
Country: Japan
What it is: Little bit of this, little bit of that

One of a pair of twins discovers that he is destined to do battle with an evil god.

This movie is based on a legendary story, and is part adventure fantasy, part kaiju and part “Star Wars” clone. I’m glad for the legend part; it gives the movie an air of authenticity that balances out the sequences that feel overly derivative of other movies. The title monster is basically Ghidorah with 166 percent more headage, but he doesn’t appear until the end of the movie. I gather the movie didn’t do as well as expected; it was supposed to be the first of a trilogy, but the sequels never happened. It’s colorful and fairly entertaining, but it really needed to find a style of its own to be trilogy-worthy.

100 Pigmies and Andy Panda (1940)

100 Pigmies and Andy Panda (1940)
Article 5954 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-21-2021
Directed by Alex Lovy
Featuring the voices of Danny Webb, Margaret Hill-Talbot, Dick Nelson
Country: USA
What it is: Walter Lantz Cartune

Andy Panda gets a magic wand. He gets into a magic duel with a pigmy witch doctor.

You know, it strikes me that I would never attempt to make an animated character based on a panda, because I would labor under the knowledge that no matter how much I try, a real one would still be cuter. Still, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be bowled over by the cuteness of this cartoon; the caricatured stereotypes of the 100 pigmies (as well as the stereotype played by the turtle here) definitely place this one in the “not politically correct” bucket. The best thing about this one is that it occasionally makes clever use of combining animation and live-action in a couple of scenes. Outside of that, it’s largely a forgettable entry in one of Walter Lantz’s lesser series.

One Froggy Evening (1955)

One Froggy Evening (1955)
Article 5953 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-20-2021
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voice of William Roberts
Country: USA
What it is: Heart-breaking fable

A construction worker accidentally comes upon a frog who can sing and dance hidden in the cornerstone of building undergoing demolition. He has dreams of making a fortune with this talented amphibian, but fate proves to be a fickle thing…

The primary fantastic content of this cartoon is a singing and dancing frog. However, not long ago I said that anthropomorphized animals were no longer by themselves sufficient content in a cartoon for me to classify it as fantastic, as that was more of a convention of the form. So why do I make an exception in this case? Two reasons. First, context is everything. This cartoon takes place in a world where singing and dancing frogs were not normal occurrences; otherwise, the construction worker wouldn’t be dreaming of making his fortune upon his discovery of one. Second, anthropomorphized animals aside, the ending of the cartoon takes place in the year 2056, so it also qualifies as science fiction.

This is one of Chuck Jones’ masterpieces, a cartoon both hilarious and painful. Our construction worker is as cursed in his quest as Wile E. Coyote is in his, a man who keeps having his dreams built up only to have them shot down by the quirks of fate; the frog will only sing for him and him alone, a circumstance which only heaps humiliation on the construction worker. You feel every moment of his pain, but you still laugh because of the absurdity of the situation. The ending only brings home the fact that the curse will reoccur every one hundred years, with some future construction worker suffering the same fate. In my eyes, the cartoon is a miniature slice of perfection, funny, sad and a little bit profound.

One Droopy Knight (1957)

One Droopy Knight (1957)
Article 5952 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-20-2021
Directed by Michael Lah
Featuring the voice of Bill Thompson
Country: USA
What it is: Droopy cartoon

When a dragon terrorizes the kingdom, two knights attempt to slay the beast and win the hand of the princess in marriage- Sir Butchalot and Sir Droopalot. But will either of them be a match for this fearsome beast?

When Droopy was used in Tex Avery cartoons, he served as the calm eye of whatever hurricane his nemesis was experiencing. As such, his droll character worked perfectly. As far as I can tell, other directors didn’t really know what to do with him other than borrow a few of his catchphrases (“That makes me mad.”) and try to fit him into a normal plot. Which is not to say that this cartoon doesn’t have its moments; it does. It just feels a bit tired and uninspired. Nevertheless, this one got an Oscar nomination. It’s still a long ways away from Droopy’s best cartoons.

The Old Grey Hare (1944)

The Old Grey Hare (1944)
Article 5951 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-19-2021
Directed by Robert Clampett
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan
Country: USA
What it is: Bugs and Elmer through the years

Elmer pleads with God to find out when he’s finally going to catch that wabbit, and is catapulted 56 years into the future to see his fate.

Seeing how this cartoon features a vocal appearance by a Supreme Being and takes us into the future (in which Elmer wields a futuristic firearm), this is one cartoon that doesn’t stint on the fantastic content. Furthermore, we not only get to see Bugs and Elmer tussle with each other as old codgers, we also flash back to their youths when they tussled with each other as babies. It’s a solid Bugs/Elmer cartoon with the usual gags, and has an amusing final twist at the end. I’m still waiting for the creation of smellevision.

Oceans of Love (1956)

Oceans of Love (1956)
Article 5950 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-18-2021
Directed by Connie Rasinski
Featuring the voices of Roy Halee and Ken Schoen
Country: USA
What it is: Terrytoons cartoon

A young fisherman is having a tough time catching fish. When he is knocked unconscious, he dreams he rescues a mermaid from a fate worse than death.

Like many other Terrytoons I’ve seen, this one has roughly two sections. It begins as a series of comic scenes in which the various fish of the sea taunt and outwit the young fisherman. The dream section puts us back into an area Terrytoons was very familiar with; it turns into a mellerdrammer operetta when the fisherman becomes a hero rescuing a mermaid from having to undergo a forced marriage arranged by her greedy father. I do get the feeling that things didn’t change a lot at Terrytoons over the years; this cartoon was made in 1956, but feels like it could have come from the studio at any time during the previous twenty years. Still, this is a fairly solid entry from the studio.

L’obsession de l’or (1906)

L’obsession de l’or (1906)
Article 5915 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-30-2020
Directed by Segundo de Chomon and Lucien Nonguet
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Not quite complete

An artist is in danger of losing his home when he can’t pay the rent. After he sends his female companion out to pawn her jewelry, he is visited by dancing money chests that offer him gold.

It’s a little difficult to make a judgment on this one, as it appears to be incomplete. It’s a fairly big jump from having a man glory in a fantasy about having tons of gold to hanging himself, and I suspect a chunk of plot is missing. It’s also a little on the disappointing side for Chomon; it’s a little too similar to the work of Melies and lacks Chomon’s individual touch that usually sets it apart; it even has the standard Melies dancing girls number. Maybe a version that isn’t missing footage would be better; as it is in this form, it’s not essential Chomon.