austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Well, you ain't never caught a rabbit

[ Sorry to be late; big day, though not so big as yesterday was. ]

Trader Hound a curios entry for the Movies Watched While Doing Wii Exercise files. It's a 1931, I think, ``Dogville Comedy''. The premise seems to be one of just doing a modestly goofy parody of actual movies; in this case, it's done to the Intrepid White Explorers Poking Around The Jungle breed films. The gimmick here is that all the performers are, well, dogs. Dogs put in human costumes, but placed in sets that are scaled to dog sizes, and with props manipulated by close shots of puppet dog hands holding stuff. And the dogs even talk, by the magic of opening and closing their mouths while stuff is lip-synched into action.

Is it good? Well, I mean, really. Look at the description of what it is. The best you could really hope for is curious, although the presence of Pete Smith as narrator --- Pete Smith would go on to make a long string of reasonably but not excessively funny movies (besides giving about 90 percent of all movie comedy writers their professional starts) --- helps matters.

There are a couple moments where it starts catching fire, but then it crashes again as you notice they're looping half of a dog's bark over and over and over and over again to carry out excessively long dialogue (did they not think to just cut to the listener's reaction?) and besides being too obvious an effect to the modern eye you get to wondering what they did to make the dogs perform more or less like they were needed. This particular episode also crashes by, well, look, 1930s movie about Explorers In Movie Africa, you know they're going to get to a Darkest Africa Village and that's going to reach an uncomfortable place.

The oddest moment in this is the choice to have a giraffe, lion, and gorilla in the movie. Not the actual animals, of course, but people in not too ornate costumes. I understand they couldn't possibly have the real animals, not and carry on the plot or humor points they wanted to do, but it breaks the continuity of the show. I've accepted these are hound dogs in explorer suits; why is there a cheap costume party giraffe tromping around?

Mostly, though, it's a source of those odd found-comedy clips Letterman used to cut to.

Trivia: F W Woolworth opened a vaudeville theater over one of his five-and-ten cent stores in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Source: No Applause - Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, Trav S D (D Travis Stewart)

Currently Reading: Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, January 2012, Editor Sheila Williams.


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