My love of vintage Hollywood cam back with a passion this week, and here I am continuing to share that love with you with two quick reviews on 2 short films from 1930. A recording of a puppet show, and a very early and bizarre, Disney Cartoon.
Tony Sarg’s Marionettes in the Orient – 3 Stars
A recording of a Marionette show, from Tony Sarg, the man who was heralded as the Father of modern Puppetry. Before watching this please bear in mind that this show is from the 30s, and therefore racial stereotyping and exaggeration of features was a commonly done thing. To ignore, or erase them would be the same as ignoring these actions ever happened.
Racial stereotyping aside, the actual puppet show, and the control of the puppets was very good. Although presented in black and white, you could still see the attention to detail that went in to the puppets and their backdrop and it’s a shame we will never get to see this presentation in the full colour it’s live audiences got to see. There is very little in terms of dialogue as this was Sarg’s one and only recording made with sound, but here is a great musical soundtrack, and a little dialogue towards the end.
There is no real story to speak of, it is more just a series of scenes from what they though ‘Oriental’ life was like. But for the era, and the technology available, I thought the film was actually pretty enjoyable.
Cannibal Capers – 2 Stars
Well, if I thought the awful racial stereotyping was abundant in the last short, this one takes it and dials it up to a distinctly offensive 11. Kids must have been into some different stuff back in the thirties if cartoons about cannibals were the in thing. I definitely wouldn’t say that this is OK for younger children to watch.
There are definitely early signs of that recognisable Disney style of animation here don’t get me wrong, and I guess everyone has to start somewhere, but this was just plain weird. Having no real plot to speak of, and little to no dialogue (because the natives in the cartoon don’t have any real language of course), it makes the short feel a little pointless and directionless. It certainly isn’t funny and I doubt many kids these days would find it amusing either.