Saturday, 26 October 2013

Cartoons of 1927, Part 1

The cartoon studios didn’t know it at the time in 1927, but things were about to change for them. In the first half of the year, no one was talking about making sound cartoons—the Fleischers had experimented a few years before—but within a couple of years, sound would transform the business. Old studios died or morphed. New ones opened in their place.

In looking over copies of The Film Daily for that period, it was almost status quo for the animation industry from the year before. There’s very little news. A couple of developments proved to be significant. Walt Disney’s Alice Comedies came to an end and his studio began producing animation-only shorts featuring Oswald the Rabbit. Disney got a mention as the creator, which meant nothing as far as producer Charlie Mintz and Universal Studios were concerned, as Disney suddenly discovered. The other development was the corporate game that saw Max Fleischer’s Red Seal Pictures cease the distribution of shorts. A deal was worked out to release them through Paramount, a relationship that ended when the studio bounced the Fleischers and took over management, finally shutting down things in 1967. Paramount also worked out a deal with Charlie Mintz to distribute Krazy Kat cartoons, returning the cat to the small screen.

Perhaps notable was the end of distribution of Mutt and Jeff shorts by a company called Short Films Syndicate; the duo would return in the sound age with soundtracks added to old silent films. J.R. Bray finally got out of the cartoon business, with the Hot Dog animated short “The Farm Hand” by Walter Lantz being the last. This freed Lantz to move west and eventually set up his own studio that lasted into the early ‘70s, in the end producing unfunny groaners that paled compared with his fun silent efforts.

I’ve transcribed the full cartoon schedule. It was published in two parts, for the months of February to April and again for May to July. You can also read short reviews of some of the cartoons. I don’t know how many of these shorts still exist. I love “Felix Dines and Pines” and there are a couple of other Felixes that sound imaginative and I’d really love to see.

March 6, 1927
"U" to Release Cartoons
Twenty-six one reel animated cartoon comedies, known as "Oswald Comedies" produced by Winkler Pictures, have been added to Universal's next season schedule. They will be built around adventures of a caricatured rabbit, the creation of Walt Disney.

March 8, 1927
Bray to Sue
Charging infringement of patents, the Bray-Hurd Process Co., is preparing to start suit against producers of animated cartoons not licensed to use the patents. The Bray-Hurd interests and Fables Pictures, are the only two companies licensed to produce cartoons under the patents, the company states. Fables Pictures obtained a license last September in an out of court settlement of the suit for infringement brought by the Bray-Hurd firm.

March 27, 1927
"Meet Felix" Buttons
For distribution especially to children, Educational is offering buttons for $12 per thousand, for use in exploiting "Felix" cartoons. This price includes the following imprint: 'Meet Me at the Blank Theater."

April 6, 1927
F.B.O. Plans "Newslaffs" Series
F.B.O. has added a series of 20 one reel "Newslaffs" to its short subject lineup. The "Newslaffs," travesties on the news events of the day, will be made by "Bill" Nolan, creator of the Krazy Kat cartoons, and produced by a new cartoon photographic process which Nolan says he has just perfected.

April 12, 1927
With 208 releases already assured, Paramount is completing its short subject line-up for 1927-28.
In addition to the 104 issues of Paramount News, there will be 26 Krazy Kat cartoons produced by Winkler Pictures, Inc., and 26 Out-of-the-Inkwell cartoons produced by Out-of-the-Inkwell Films, Inc. The Winkler company also will produce five novelties and five short comedies and comedy dramas.

April 15, 1927
Bray Sues Winkler
Infringement of patents covering cartoon reels, is charged by Bray Prod. in suit filed against Winkler Pictures, J. R. Bray announced yesterday. The Winkler office had no comment to make.

May 9, 1927
Animated Cartoonist Loses Suit
Verdict in favor of Florenz Ziegfeld was returned by a jury before Supreme Court Justice John Ford, holding that Bert Green, maker of animated cartoons was not entitled to the $29,000 he had brought suit for. Green claimed in his suit that Ziegfeld had contracted with him to make four animated films.

May 29, 1927
Films for Homes
Rochester—Monthly service of four-minute feature films for showing at home will be inaugurated June 1 by the Eastman Kodak Co., with a regular monthly release of new pictures. The first stars to be presented are John Barrymore, Charlie Chaplin and Bobby Jones, along with travelogue and animated cartoons.
The films will be known as "cinegraphs," and will add to the home entertainment of amateurs who make their own pictures.

June 5, 1927
Publix Class Studies "Fables"
Visiting the studios of Fables Pictures, Inc., recently, the student body of the Publix Theater Manager Training School met Paul Terry, cartoonist and creator of Aesop Film Fables. Terry explained in detail the art and mystery of animated cartoons enlightening the class on the process of animation, the subject matter and the systemized procedure from the conception of the scenario to the photography of the finished drawing. The class left with an understanding of production details in animated film and an appreciation of the care involved in that division of motion picture products.

June 30, 1927
Court Reverses Judgment of Kalmus
Judgment for $896 obtained by Max Kalmus against Irwin Classics and Red Seal Pictures, for furnishing automobiles in taking the defendants' players to location, has been reversed by the Appellate Term. This action was on the ground that evidence was excluded as to the authority of Dave Fleischer of Red Seal to bind the defendants on the agreement.

729 7th Ave.—N. Y. C.
Cartoons—1 Reel
Petering Out 2-4
S'Matter Pete 2-13
Lunch Hound 3-4
Pete's Pow Wow 3-11
Hot Dog Cartoons—1 Reel
Bone Dry 4-15
The Farm Hand 5-1

370 7th Ave.—N. Y. C.
Felix the Cat Cartoons—1 Reel
Felix the Cat in Icy Eyes 2-2
Felix the Cat in Stars and Stripes 2-20
Felix the Cat Sees 'em in Season 3-6
Felix the Cat in Barn Yarns 3-20
Felix the Cat in Germ Mania 4-4
Felix the Cat in Sax Appeal 4-17
Felix the Cat in Eye Jinks 5-1
Felix the Cat as 'Roameo' 5-15
Felix the Cat Ducks His Duty 5-29
Felix the Cat in Dough-Nutty 6-12
Felix the Cat in 'Loco' Motive 6-26

Life Cartoons—1 Reel
The Heavy Date 2-13
Hitting the Trail 2-27
Local Talent 3-13
Ruling the Rooster 3-27
The Prince of Whales 4-10
Racing Fever 4-24
North of Nowhere 5-8

1560 Broadway—N. Y. C.
Alice Cartoons—1 Reel
Alice at the Carnival 2-7
Alice's Rodeo 2-21
Alice the Collegiate 3-7
Alice in the Alps 3-21
Alice's Auto Race 4-4
Alice's Circus Daze 4-18
Alice Naughty Night 5-2
Alice's Three Bad Egges 5-16
Alice's Picnic 5-30
Alice's Channel Swim 6-13
Alice in the Klondike 6-27
Alice's Medicine Show 7-11
Alice The Whaler 7-25

Krazy Kat Cartoons—1 Reel
Kiss Crossed 2-14
A Fool's Errand 2-28
Stomach Trouble 3-14
The Rug Fiend 3-28
Hire A Hall 4-11
Don Go On 4-25
Burnt Up 5-9
The Night Owl 5-23
On Trail 6-6
Passing the Hat 6-20
Best Wishes 7-4
Wild Rival 7-18

Paramount Building, N. Y. C.
Animated Cartoons—1 Reel
Inkwell Imps No. 1 8-6
Krazy Kat 8-13
Inkwell Imps No. 2 8-20
Krazy Kat 8-27
Inkwell Imps No. 3 9-3
Krazy Kat 9-10
Ink-well Imps No. 4 9 17
Krazy Kat 9-24

35 W. 45th St.—N. Y. C.
Aesop's Film Fables—2/3 Reel
In The Dough 2-6
The Crawl Stroke 2-13
The Mail Pilot 2-20
Cracked Ice 2-27
Taking The Air 3-6
All For A Bride 3-13
Tht Magician 3-20
Keep Off The Grass 3-27
The Medicine Man 4-3
The Honor Man 4-10
Anti-Fat 4-17
A Fair Exchange 5-1
Bubbling Over 5-8
When Snow Flies 5-15
Horses, Horses, Horses 5-22
Digging for Gold 5-29
A Dog's Day 6-5
Hard Cider 6-12
Died in the Wool 6-19
A One Man Dog 6-26
The Big Reward 7-3
Riding High 7-10
The Love Nest 7-14
Subway Sally 7-24

1600 Broadway—N. Y. C.
Hair Cartoons—1 Reel
Issue 23 2-15
Issue 24 3-15
Issue 25 4-15

Ko Ko Song Car-Tunes—1 Reel
Trail of the Lonesome Pine 2-1
In the Good Old Summertime 3-1
Oh You Beautiful Doll 3-15
Jingle Bells 4-1
Robert E. Lee 4-15

Out of the Inkwell—1 Reel
Ko Ko Makes Em Laugh 2-10
Ko Ko in 1999 3-10
Ko Ko The Kavilier 4-10

729 7th Ave.—N. Y. C.
Mutt and Jeff Cartoons—2 Reels
One every two weeks.


January 2, 1927
"Sink or Swim," Fable-Pathe
Type of production. .. 1 reel cartoon
Summertime at the sea side seethes with sleek shining swimmers. Hippo and bird, elephant and dog, cat and stork have a grand time sporting in the briny surf. Milt blows up water wings for Rita Mouse, who swims out beyond her depth, and when a swordfish punctures her wings she is in dire straits. To the rescue comes Milt. The caricature, the action and theme are excellent concoctions of the humorist's mind.

"Dog Gonnit," Lantz-Bray
Entertaining Throughout.
Type of production. .1 reel animated photography
If there were an absolute dearth of gags or comedy situations, "Dog Gonnit" would still have distinction because of the diverting character of the drawings. An artist who is so sure of his draughtsmanship, his imaginative quality in caricature, has half the battle over, before he even thinks of his story. But this offering does not have to depend on technique alone, sufficient as that is to get it by. There are any number of graphic quips and gags, and the continuity of camera photography with the animated sequences is perfect. The story concerns Pete the Pup's aim to cross the English Channel, and his adventures with the finny denizens along the route comprise the essential features of interest. This should go big.

January 23, 1927
"Why Women Pay"—Life Cartoon

Cartoon Burlesque
Type of production. . . .1 reel cartoon
High Hat Harold continues his villainy, this time selecting as his victim a prospector named Mike, who has just discovered a gold mine Harold swindles him in a card game and then goes to the mine to endeavour to get possession of it. He sets a bomb near the cabin to finish Mike, but a bird nicks it up and drops it on the scoundrel. Thus Mike is left in happy possession of his mine. This burlesquing of the typical western is good fun—if folks can get the point.

January 30, 1927
"The Musical Parrot," Fable-Pathe
The Usual Chase
Type of production. . .1 reel cartoon
There are a few amusing wrinkles in caricature when Al and his pet cat, Tom, engage in a game of billiards. Having exhausted all the gags the artist could possibly get out of this situation, there seemed to be nothing left but a good old fashioned chase. And so, poor Polly, who has been rending the welkin with a lamentable song entitled, "Oh, I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me," is the victim in the case, with Al, a blind man and his performing monk, and the cat in hot pursuit. What happens in this episode is nothing more exciting than a number of conventional falls.

February 13, 1927
Felix the Cat in “Zoo Logic”—Pat Sullivan

Cleverly Comic
Type of production. ... 1 reel cartoon
The creator of these animateds gets far away from the factory product and puts originality and ingenuity into the exploits of Felix. This one is no exception. A clever travesty, poking sly digs at some of our fool city regulations, and other civilized annoyances. Felix is more than a cartoon. He shows up human damfoolishness—and does it with a laugh.

February 20, 1927
"Ko-Ko Gets Egg-Cited"—Out-of-the-Inkwell Cartoon—Red Seal
Clever Cartoon
Type of production. ... 1 reel cartoon
Perhaps Ko-Ko doesn't "know his onions" as well as he might. In his latest escapade he trails a chicken to gather in eggs for Max Fleischer, his boss, but he frolics too long in a hennery and before he knows it Ko-Ko is the father of a fine brood of little ko-kos. Good laughs if not always strictly refined.

February 27, 1927
"Alice at the Carnival"
Alice Comedy—F. B. O.

Type of production. . .1 reel cartoon
"Hot Dogs and All"
Alice and her pup hit the trail to Coney or some other amusement resort and the frolic that follows furnishes some mild enough fun with the cartoonist taking the customary liberties with the result that a lot of things happen at the Carnival that would never happen at Coney. The roller coaster, for instance, becomes hysterical and hot dogs misbehave in hilarious fashion. Good for a fair amount of laughs.

"Felix Dines and Pines"—Pat Sullivan

Type of production. . 1 reel animated
Original methods are employed by Felix to get himself a meal. He starts with an appetizer by stealing the contents of a punch bowl which he sucks through a tube of spaghetti. Each course of the meal is obtained from a different source. The result is Felix has an indigestion dream. There is more originality in this animated than in a lot of features—and more genuine comedy. Felix as a screen entertainer is there—as always.

March 27, 1927
"The Magician"—Fables—Pathe
Superlatively Clever
Type of Production . . . 1 reel animated cartoon.
This is by far one of the funniest, one of the most cleverly drawn and one of the most imaginative reels of animated work done by the modern Aesop. The gags are of the unexpected variety that can't fail to bring the laughs, the plot is fanciful burlesque, and the sheer drawings have an entertaining quality. Don't miss this one. It's a natural.

"Hitting the Trail" Life Cartoon—Educational
Hobo Humor
Type of production .... 1 reel cartoon
Relates the adventures of Nibbins and Pal, his dog, who go on a tramp and ride the rails. Most of the fun is built around a pancake stand, and the efforts of the two animated characters to get a meal without paying for the pancakes. This cartoon develops a definite situation and works it out with a good deal of humor. It is better than most of the series that have preceded it.

"Felix in Icy Eyes"
Pat Sullivan—Educational

Clever Animation
Type of production .... 1 reel cartoon
At last Felix finds his ideal in the line of lady cats. He follows her to a skating pond, and tries to make an impression with fancy skating, but the only impression made is with Felix's head on the ice. Finally Felix distinguishes himself as a hero by capturing a couple of crooks. It's a Felix. Therefore, it's good.

"Cracked Ice"

Type of production . . . 1 reel cartoon
Farmer Al out for a turn on an ice pond meets the inevitable mishap, falling through the ice, and when he's fished out has to be thawed out of an encrusted cake. In the meantime a polar bear has been making life miserable for him. Finally, free of the ice, he attempts to eat a frank furter. The hot dog takes heels and he chases it. All told, the treatment results in sprightly screen fodder.

"Petering Out"
Bray Studios

Good Combination Cartoon
Type of production .. 1 reel animated
Walter Lantz, the artist, features himself in a comedy skit with his cartoon dog. The combination of animated and straight acting is cleverly worked out. It winds up with the artist all covered up with the wallpaper, and falling out of the window in his paper suit that makes him look like a convict that the cop outside is searching for. Clever all the way—and humorous.

"The Mail Pilot"—Fable

Deft Caricature
Type of production. ... 1 reel cartoon
Slick work by Milton Mouse and the courageous spirit of his girl, Rita, saves the government mail plane from falling victim to two airway robbers. The author found himself fertile with gags and interest in this one.

April 10, 1927
"Soft Soap"—Life Cartoon

Novelty Cartoon
Type of production. .1 reel animated
The gags are built around a safe delivered to Mike's home. Little Nibbins and his dog furnish the fun by making a sliding pond in the hall with soap. This results in Mike slipping all over the place and wrestling with the safe. The trouble with these cartoons is that the draughtsmanship has a smudgy effect that makes the entire reel suffer. A technical defect that, it seems, can be easily remedied.

April 17, 1927
"Felix the Cat in Germ-mania"
Pat Sullivan—Educational

A Gloom Chaser
Type of production. .. .1 reel cartoon
The realm of science is invaded to get the comedy for this one. But it is put over as popular science that all can understand and enjoy. Felix wanders into a laboratory where a chemist is at work on two fluids One enlarges objects, and the other reduces them. With this promising start, the artist works out one of the best Felix cartoons in this long list of clever animated offerings. Felix gets the goat of a kissing bug by spying through a microscope on his necking party. It winds up by the chemist using the reducing fluid on Felix, and the enlarging fluid on the love microbe. Then the latter, now a giant, chases poor Felix all over the map Here is a screen scream as cleverly executed as it is laugh-provoking.

"The Plow Boy's Revenge"

Clever Nonsense
Type of production. ... 1 reel cartoon
Paul Terrry gets his hand in with a good natured distortion of the extravagant melodrama that used to grace the celebrated "Ten, Twent' Thirt' " stage. Thus, we find Milt Mouse, after having been befriended by Graham Goldfish, save the latter's mate from the whirling teeth of a buzz saw. The manner of the goings and comings are worked out with good-natured gusto in the author's well known style. A diverting bit of nonsense.

April 24, 1927
"Felix the Cat Sees 'Em in Season"
Pat Sullivan—Educational

Spring Fancies
Type of production . . . 1 reel cartoon
This opens with a fine animated portrayal of winter changing magically into spring. The snow melts before your eyes, and the trees, resembling sleeping people, yawn, stretch themselves—and blossom forth into leaves and flowers. A corking conceit, with a comedy flavor. Then spring fever starts to seize all the animals. The highlight is that of Felix chasing a mouse. Gradually both are overcome with sleep, and lie down peacefully. A laugh for old and young in this cartoon classic.

May 15, 1927
"Horses, Horses, Horses"

Funny and Clever
Type of production. . 1 reel animated cartoon
No question about it, Milton Mouse can be as funny as a “Follies” comedian, when the artist feels the gag urge. Here we find him engaged in a one-man round-up, and making love to Rita on the side. The usual adventure of the great Western outdoors cross his path, but when the dust of incident and action has settled, Milton is pretty much on top. This number is sprightly, well-drawn and original. Good stuff.

June 5, 1927
"Felix in Eye Jinks"
Pat Sullivan—Educational

Optical Illusion
Type of production. .1 reel animated
Felix the Cat lands a job with an optician who is overrun with mice. Felix is getting away with it till he falls asleep. The mice place a pair of magnifying glasses from the optician's stock on the cat's nose. When he wakes up the mice appear like young lions in size. The reel has the usual sprightliness and comedy of these popular animateds.

"The One Man Dog"

Entertaining Cartoon
Type of production. .. .1 reel cartoon
"A boy's best friend is his dog" is the moral to be drawn from this animated thriller, even when the pup is censured for various indiscretions. How packed this is with "meller" may be judged by the fact that a whole police force is wiped out in the battle. However, Aesop ends up with: "A stitch in time saves embarrassment."

"Digging for Gold"

The Usual Chase
Tyne of production ... 1 reel cartoon
Old Al and his dog and cat arrive at Weepah. where thev find some nucrgets. These are on Bill Bear's claim, and so while Al and Bruin fight it out. the cat and dog run off with the booty. There are very few variations in treatment, gags or ideas from the usual run of these cartoons but it is nevertheless entertaining.

June 26, 1927
"Died in the Wool"

Cleverly Animated
Type of production. ... 1 reel cartoon
Shepard Milt Mouse banishes an incorrigible sheep, and then visits his sweetie Rita. Terrible Tom Cat, seeing the lovers, runs off to make a bargain with a wolf. Tom then forces his dupe to don feminine garb and Vamp Milt. A droll little drama.

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