Tag Archives: Pathe

War Feathers (1926, Robert F. McGowan and Robert A. McGowan)

I expected an Our Gang short titled War Feathers to be racist, but I was unprepared for how racist it gets.

It opens with the kids torturing a train conductor–and Joe Cobb in blackface. Sorry, “chocolate” face. The poor conductor doesn’t just have to try to contain them, he’s also got them pretending to be good for their parents. Of course the parents don’t believe a black train conductor.

It makes you wonder if the point’s to want to see the kids drown.

Then the kids leave the train and go to an Old West town. There they see a lot of Native Americans. One eventually kidnaps Farina.

In an interesting turn of events, after outlaws kidnap Farina again, he gets sick. They try to help him, making them the nicer than anyone else in Feathers.

It finishes with the Gang stranded in the wilderness. Unfortunately not to stay.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Robert F. McGowan and Robert A. McGowan; written and produced by Hal Roach; titles by H.M. Walker; edited by Richard C. Currier; released by Pathé Exchange.

Starring Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins (Farina), Joe Cobb (Joe), Johnny Downs (Johnny), Jannie Hoskins (Mango), Jackie Condon (Jackie), Scooter Lowry (Skooter), Clifton Young (Bonedust), Jay R. Smith (Jay), Peggy Ahearn (Peggy), Mildred Kornman (Mildred), Chet Brandenburg (Rancher at the Whistling Clam), Allan Cavan (Train passenger), George B. French (Rancher at the Whistling Clam), Ham Kinsey (Conductor) and Sam Lufkin (Sheriff).


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The Iron Man (1931, Harry Bailey and John Foster)

The Iron Man‘s protagonist is not the Iron Man itself (himself?), which shows up after the halfway point. The protagonist is a cantankerous old man with some magic powers. He lives amongst all the adorable cartoon animals who sing and dance happily and he does what he can to ruin their days.

He’s a bad guy. He also doesn’t show up for the first two minutes, which seems long in a seven minute cartoon, but the unlikable aspect is more interesting. He’s not a lovable jerk, he’s not even funny. He probably would kick a kitten.

The cartoon is beautifully animated. Even in black and white, the backgrounds are lush with feeling. Not a lot of detail, but directors Bailey and Foster know what’s important to include.

It could go on longer. The final gag is way too brief.

Man‘s oddly thought provoking, especially how it handles narrative structure.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Harry Bailey and John Foster; produced by Paul Terry and Amadee J. Van Beuren; released by RKO-Pathé Distributing Corp.


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Snow Time (1930, Mannie Davis and John Foster)

Snow Time is another strange cartoon from Foster. It’s wintertime in cute cartoon animal land and everyone’s having a swell time skiing, synchronized skating and so on.

Until this cat’s tail gets cut off because he’s messing around in a ski lane. But Foster and co-director Davis don’t follow his story. Presumably he’s just done… Snow Time skips between all the cute little animals until the finish. About a minute after the cartoon needs a narrative, it gets one.

The cat who’s been off screen for most of the cartoon–apparently walking around the frozen wilderness (he loses his tail at some point)–is dying. A crazy doctor can’t save him, but maybe some whiskey can.

I’m not sure the actual moral of the cartoon is anything like what the filmmakers intended.

There’s a lot more craziness I forgot (an assault, a living hot dog).

Snow Time‘s really strange.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Mannie Davis and John Foster; produced by Paul Terry and Amadee J. Van Beuren; released by Pathé Exchange.


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Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies (1925, Del Lord)

Super-Hooper-Dyne Lizzies explores the dangers of electric cars. Basically, they can be taken over by radio waves and made to do crazy things. If it weren’t for the gasoline dealer (John J. Richardson) being the villain, one could almost see it as twenties gas company propaganda.

The short is a special effects extravaganza and director Lord does pretty well with it. There are all sorts of car effects, some okay wirework and a few other things. Sadly, the rampant racism overshadows any of the short’s positive qualities.

At one point, co-writers Frank Capra and Jefferson Moffitt posit blacks are actually not living creatures. Where’s Robert Riskin when you need him….

There’s also some anti-Semitism, but it might be from title card writers Felix Adler and Al Giebler.

The first half is mildly amusing with the special effects. But the second half makes it Lizzies unpleasant overall.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Del Lord; screenplay by Frank Capra and Jefferson Moffitt; titles by Felix Adler and Al Giebler; directors of photography, George Spear and George Unholz; edited by William Hornbeck; produced by Mack Sennett; released by Pathé Exchange.

Starring Billy Bevan (Hiram Case), Andy Clyde (Burbank Watts), Lillian Knight (Minnie Watts) and John J. Richardson (T. Potter Doam).


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