Monday, April 30, 2018

MLP:FIM Horse Play

This episode introduces us to a new writer, Kaita Mpambara. This episode is storyboarded by Karina Charlebois (who started boarding in Season 6) and Aynsley King (who started boarded for the show in Season 4). In this episode Twilight puts Princess Celestia in the leading role of her school play, only to learn she is bad at acting.

I really like what this show has been doing with Celestia lately. The writers are making her a more rounded character with just as many quirks and faults as the other ponies. As such she feels more relatable real and more fun to watch. I also like the Twilight's geeky side is become much more prominent again. This side of her is often what brings out some of the show's funniest and most relatable moments. Our new writer certainly shows promise. This episode tells a good story and tells it well. There is also some really funny humor in the acting lesson scene.

All in all a solid episode.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in "The Band Concert" (1935)

The Band Concert is deservedly one of the most famous of Disney's cartoon shorts. It received the number three spot in Jerry Beck's book, 50 Greatest Cartoons, film historian Leonard Maltin has referred to this as his favorite Disney cartoon short, and the film has even received a ride based of it in Disney's California Adventure (The Silly Symphonies Swings (One of my favorite rides)).

This film was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon in color. Though the Silly Symphonies had begun to be made in color in 1932, the Mickey Mouse cartoons remained in black and white for a few more years.

This cartoon was directed by Wilfred Jackson. He was one of the studio's best directors at this time, directing such classic short films as The Whoopee Party, Mickey's Mellerdrammer, Santa's Workshop, Puppy Love and The Grasshopper and the Ants. He would go on to be one of the main directors on such animated Disney features as Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp.

The following is what exhibitors wrote to the Motion Picture Herald.

"Band Concert: Mickey Mouse - Well color helps Mickey 60 per cent. Popeye has been more popular lately but from the comment on this color Mickey, believe he will gain it back. By far the best Mickey we've ever used and we've used them all. - John H. Forrester, Pine Theater, Waldron, Ark. Lumber-farming patronage."

"Band Concert: Mickey Mouse - The tops in colored cartoons. It rates all the publicity you can give it. - M.R. Harrington, Avalon Theater, Clatskanie, Ore. Small town and rural patronage."

"Band Concert: Mickey Mouse - A very fine colored Mickey Mouse. Enough said. - C.L. Niles. Niles Theater, Anamosa, Iwoa. General Patronage."

One of these exhibitors when writing about a Merrie Melodie cartoon called Go Into Dance mentioned The Band Concert. This review is quoted below.

"Go Into Your Dance: Merrie Melodies series - An excellent colored cartoon similar to
'Mickey's Band Concert' - C.L. Niles. Niles Theater, Anamosa, Iwoa. General Patronage."

This is strange as these cartoons are actually really different from each other. Maybe Niles is referring to a scene in which a cartoon pig leads an orchestra, but even that scene is quite different from anything in The Band Concert.

AnimationFerdinand Horvath (LS Iris in on band stand. Mickey as conductor. Mickey is bowing to crowd as crowd applauds. Truck down to band stand; CU - Mickey and the band still bowing)
Dick Williams (CU - Music rack - Mickey's hand comes in and pulls "Selections from Zampa" off - Leaving overture (William Tell) as the next number to be played; LS - Tree - all the players hanging in it like ornaments on a Christmas tree and Mickey underneath tree leading them)
Les Clark (CU Mickey with his back turns to us bowing to his audience, then turns around and faces his band, tapping his stick; MCU - Mickey on stand, bee flies in; CU of Mickey's hat and bee. Bee looking o.s. at Don, gives Don the bird; CU Mickey with bee on hat. Bee hits ice cream coning, jumps as ice cream hits Mickey in the back of head, Mickey turns and is mad at Don; CU Trumpet Player - ice cream follow on from Mickey comes in and lands in bell of trumpet. Trumpet player looks mad and blows it back; CU - Mickey on stand. Ice cream comes in, hits Mickey, goes down his neck - he shakes it out and kicks it out of scene. Turns to band as bee comes back in bothering Mickey, flies out then back; CU Mickey leading flips page and "takes" at music; CU - Page of music (Title) William Tell - The Storm; CU - Mickey cocks hat. Starts leading storm music; Platform  on ground under tree. Mickey lands still leading band; CU - Mickey leading music ends. Mickey turns around bowing to where audience should be, looks: takes: sees duck o.s.)
Frenchy de Tremaudan (MCU Mickey and band. Mickey about to start, then they start with a bang, hats and music fly. Mickey directs as hats and music settle then another blast; CU Mickey directing Tuba player. Pan right as he cues the trumpet player - hits high. Mickey falls as we pan back to tuba player, then back to trumpet, pan with Mickey's action back to tuba; CU - Mickey leading very soft. He takes as o.s. yelling comes in; CU - Duck playing Mickey comes in mad, tapping foot. Grabs piccolo from duck and breaks it, throws it on floor and walks out. Duck laughs and pulls another whistle out of his sleeve. (spilt with Dick Huemer); CU - Mickey on stand - mad (split with Dick Huemer); CU Duck playing Mickey comes in and breaks Don's whistle and goes out. Don winks. Does slight of hand trick and has another whistle and starts to play. Mickey comes back. Don breaks his own whistle and hands it to Mickey. Mickey is mad, throws it on the ground, pulls up his sleeves and dives after Don. Don jumps out of scene. Mickey lands on chin. Gets up and goes out (split with Dick Huemer); CU - band stand. Mickey comes in, falls, gets up and continues leading band)
Dick Huemer (MCU - Duck selling ice cream and peanuts - yelling. Sees Mickey - Takes - pulls out piccolo leaves cart and goes out left towards bandstand; MCU - Part of bandstand - - Don Duck comes in, jumps up on stand; CU - Donald. Bows to audience starts to play and dance; CU - Mickey leading sees duck - takes and leaves scene towards duck; CU - Duck playing Mickey comes in mad, tapping foot. Grabs piccolo from duck and breaks it, throws it on floor and walks out. Duck laughs and pulls another whistle out of his sleeve. (spilt with Frenchy de Tremaudan); CU - Mickey on stand - mad (split with Frenchy de Tremaudan); CU Duck playing Mickey comes in and breaks Don's whistle and goes out. Don winks. Does slight of hand trick and has another whistle and starts to play. Mickey comes back. Don breaks his own whistle and hands it to Mickey. Mickey is mad, throws it on the ground, pulls up his sleeves and dives after Don. Don jumps out of scene. Mickey lands on chin. Gets up and goes out (split with Frenchy de Tremaudan); MCU - 2 shot - Duck watching trombone player; CU Duck does sleight of hand trick and pulls out another whistle; CU - Duck watching trombone player; CU Duck does sleight of hand trick and pulls out another whistle; MCU - 2 shot - Duck playing whistle and trombone player. Trombone slides out and hooks around Don's neck shaking him as a lot of whistles fall from Don's clothes. Don is then swung up in perceptive of the camera and throws out of scene; CU of Don's cart. Don comes in and lands among ice cream cones, gets up, mad as hell, and starts to rave; CU - Trombone player gives Don the bird on trombone; MCU - Don cocks hat, picks up a whistle, starts to play as bee comes flying in; CU don playing. Bee flies into whistle and into Don's mouth. MCU - Don spits it out. Mad tries to hit bee with hat. Bee gets in Don's hat. Bee gets in Don's hat. Don takes as he puts hat on. Don takes hat off and bee flies out. Don turns and glares towards Mickey; MCU - Don takes. Picks up ice cream cone and throws ice cream at bee on Mickey's hat; MCU - Duck clapping his hands, takes off his hat and there is another damn whistle. He flips it in the air, catches it and starts to play as instruments come sailing through the scene at him. Big tuba lands on him. Don's hands and arms come out of mouth piece with whistle still playing as we iris out whistle and Don's arms)    
Clyde Geronimi (CU - Licorice stick player and Clara the piccolo play as they play each other's instruments; MCU - Horace as drummer. Bee comes in and Horace tries to hit bee with cymbals. Pan right. Bee lands on head of player. Horace smack player's head between cymbals. Misses bee. Bee comes back, lands on players head again. Horace goes out and comes back with sledge hammer. Misses bee and drivers player's head down in his collar. Player continues playing horn sticking out of collar. Horace takes and sneaks out; MCU Don People coming running in. Don looks - takes; CU - Don - takes starts running on pan, leaves scene; CU - Don coming up from background, climbs a tree as twister comes in and braids trees leaving Don in the middle (split with Ugo D'Orsi); CU - Don all tangled up in trees, yelling for help) 

Wolfgang "Woolie" Reitherman (MCU - Licorice stick player playing his head off)
Jack Kinney (MCU - Horace the drummer takes as difficult music; Horses in air with drum still playing, falls out of scene; Platform - drums fall, Horace falls in drum, comes out playing cymbals)
Archie Robin (MCU - Clara plays like hell. Leaves and hats blowing through scenes. Clara gets finger stuck in piccolo, pulls hand out leaving glove. She tries to blow it out. Clouds are forming in sky)
Ugo D'Orsi (LS - A Twister appears on horizon, move across screen, as we pan with it, it starts mowing down houses; MCU - Twister moving along. Pan taking up telephone poles and wires; CU - Don coming up from background, climbs a tree as twister comes in and braids trees leaving Don in the middle (split with Clyde Geronimi))
Cy Young (MCU - Mickey and band bandstand - top blows away. Band is blown around in a circle. Rising in air circling in perspective; Band all blowing in air, still playing, Mickey still leading; MCU - Mickey in air going trough doors, etc.; MCU - Band still in air playing "The Storm." Band circles left to right, Mickey stops action and reverses action to)
Johnny Cannon (Trumpet player mows down picket fence; Clarabelle - in air upside down, umbrella goes thru her whistle)
Louie Schmidt (CU - Tree - nest on a limb, baby buggy drops in, lands in buggy. Nest flies up and lands on his head, two little birds singing; CU - Tree and limb. (A makeshift out house chair drops in.) Licorice stick player drops in on pet still playing; Pig player drops on a limb, caught by collar. Her drops out, leaving coat; Pig still falling, is now in underwear, they catch a limb, pig drops on thru, leaving underwear; Bottom of tree. Pig lands in barrel still playing; Tuba player falling lands in pig's underwear, still playing blows underwear up like a balloon)

Story: Mickey Mouse is the leader of the band. In this case it is a classical music orchestra about to put on a concert of The William Tell Overture. However an enthusiastic Donald butts in playing Turkey in the Straw on his whistle. Mickey tries to put a stop to this but Donald has many whistles. When a storm comes the band is swooped up but continues playing anyways. After the concert the band gets thunderous applause from its one man audience, Donald Duck.


-Michael J. Ruhland


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Movie Review: Pacific Rim: Uprising

Review Written By Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: C

Review: Not a great movie by any means, but I definitely had fun watching it.

The best thing about this movie is our two lead characters. They are actually developed pretty well and I found it real easy to like and relate to them. With this I was rooting for them to save the day. This helped add to how much fun the action filled climax was. While I would not say I was on the edge of my seat, I found myself enjoying it. The story itself is not original but it works well enough for what the movie is.

On the downside some of the supporting characters are really bland. This is especially true of one girl that doesn't get along with one of our main heroes. She feels like she is here simply for a cliché side story that adds nothing to the movie. There is also the fact that character development often feels rushed in this movie. The humor also often falls flat in this film.

Again this is not a great movie, but there is enough that works here to make seeing it an enjoyable experience.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, April 21, 2018

MLP:FIM Surf and/or Turf

Today's episode introduces Brain Hohlfeld, a new writer to the show. It is storyboarded by Marta Demong (Who started boarding for the show in season 7), Thalia Tomlinson and Mincheul Park (Both of whom started boarding for the show on the Season 5 premiere). In this episode the Cutie Mark Crusaders help a hippogriff found out whether he belongs on land or in the sea.

This was an excellent episode. The message was a very true and important one. It is also one I can easily relate too. The humor is also very funny. Especially delightful is seeing Twilight in full geek mode (which is my favorite way to see her). The CMC are also just as delightful here as always. Terramar is a fantastic character and I hope we see more of him in future episodes. This episode also does a great job of expanding the world of the show and it very smartly works the movie into the show's continuity.

By the way since I am attending the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, the post for next week's episode will be late.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Friday, April 20, 2018

Happy Birthday Harold Lloyd.

Today we celebrate the birthday of silent film comedian Harold Lloyd. To celebrate this day we will look at some of Harold Lloyd's best silent short films.

What many film fans best know Harold for today is his thrill comedies. These comedies would often involve Harold being in a high place and in danger of falling. These films would both create suspense and get laughs. Our first short Never Weaken (1921) is a fantastic example of this. This short is really clever and the humor is often quite surprising, which adds to how funny it is.

Our next short is I Do (1921). Most of Harold's films featured him as a young romantic who over the course of the movie falls for and gets the girl. As evidenced by the title this film is one of the few times, his character spends the majority of the movie married. This film features an interesting sequence that is in fact animated. Originally a longer elopement sequence was made that was in live action. However this sequence did not go over well at previews and H.M. Walker who provided most of the inter titles for films made at the Hal Roach Studio, created a brief animated segment to cover that part of the story. Harold's wife in this film was played by Mildred Davis who would actually become Harold's real life wife in 1923.

Our last short is Haunted Spooks (1920). Some of you might be aware of how, Harold posing with what he thought was a prop bomb accidently blew off one of his fingers. Well that happened during the making of this film. If you look extremely closely you may notice that i some scenes he has all his fingers and in some he is wearing a prosthetic glove. Because of this incident there was a rather large break in the shooting schedule. Shooting started from August 9, 1919 to August 23, 1919. It continued from January 5, 1920 to January 25, 1920. One incredible part of this film is the intertitles. These were once again by H.M. Walker. As well as text these intertitles also feature some great artwork in the background. H.M. Walker was an artist as well as a writer and this film lets him show this off. My fellow Our Gang fans should look for Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison in a brief role before the Our gang shorts started. Once again Harold's wife is played by his future real life wife, Mildred Davis.

-Michael J. Ruhland


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Happy 81st Birthday Daffy Duck

81 years ago today, the one and only Daffy Dumas Duck first graced the cinema screen. With this in mind today we will look at some of the Duck's animated output.

First up is one of the all time classics. This is Porky Pig's Feat (1943). This cartoon is directed by Frank Tashlin. Tashlin began directing cartoons for the Warner Bothers studio in 1936. However in 1938, he would leave the studio to work at Disney. Soon he would leave Disney to direct cartoons at Columbia, where he would introduce the characters of the Fox and the Crow. Porky Pig's Feat was the first cartoon he directed after briefly returning to Warner Brothers. Tashlin would later become a live action director, directing such films as The Son of Paleface (1952), Artists and Models (1955), The Girl Can't Help It (1956) and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1957). Porky Pig's Feat is a very fast paced and funny cartoon, that is an absolute delight. Spoiler Alert: This film features the only appearance of Bugs Bunny in a black and white theatrical short, unless you think of the rabbit in Porky's Hare Hunt (1938) as Bugs.

The following is what an exhibitor wrote about the cartoon to the Motion Picture Herald.

"Porky Pig's Feat: Looney Tunes Cartoons - It's black and white but it's fast and furious and full of laughs. That's what counts. - W. Varrieck Nevins, III, Alfred Co-op Theater, Alfred N. Y."

The next short is one of my favorites. This is The Daffy Duckaroo (1942). The jokes are extremely funny, and the film is full of a really addictive sense of energy. This cartoon was directed by Norm McCabe. McCabe started directing Looney Tunes in 1940. However after being drafted in 1943, McCabe would leave the studio, and the returning Frank Tashlin would take over his unit. Though Norm McCabe only directed Looney Tunes for a short while, his films were excellent and had their own wise guy style that was different from any other director. This film is a great highly entertaining example, so enjoy.

The next short is a much later one. This is The Spy Swatter (1967). Around this time, Daffy was being pitted against Speedy Gonzales in a series of cartoons. The original studio had closed by this time. The cartoons continued production first under DePatie-Freleng studios and then Warner Brother's Seven Arts. Because of this the budget is much smaller and the animation much more limited than the previous cartoons. This cartoon was directed by Rudy Larva who was mostly directing Coyote and Roadrunner shorts at this time. This is one of his only two, Daffy and Speedy cartoons (the other being The Music Mice-Trio (1967)). So enjoy this off-beat strange cartoon.

If you are wondering what to get Daffy for his birthday, this song should give you some advise.


-Michael J. Ruhalnd

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Peter Pan (1924)

To celebrate my birthday, I went to see the 1924 silent film version of Peter Pan with live musical accompaniment at the Old Town Music Hall. Because of this, I feel it is a great time to write about this film.

This movie is pure entertainment at its best. The film has humor, heart, excitement, adventure and most of all just a pure sense of fun. I also think this is a perfect film to introduce others to the magic of silent movies. The movie does not strive for realism in any way. It is instead content on being a full on fantasy. With this it is easy for an audience to get fully sucked into its fantasy. This is a fairy tale in its truest sense and of a type of film in which I'd love to see there be a comeback.

One reason we accept this completely unrealistic film as real is because the characters feel completely real. This is especially true of the charming but complicated relationship between Wendy and Peter. This relationship closely resembles the one in the play and it is just as delightful in this movie.

Of course the live musical accompaniment and seeing it on the big screen only added to the magic of this movie. Though no one enjoys watching silent movies alone on DVD more than me, once you see a silent movie like this you know that's the way it was always meant to be seen. The whole film comes to life and you are sucked into its magic.

This movie was directed by Herbert Brenon. Brenon also directed such films as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1913), Beau Geste (1926), Laugh Clown Laugh (1928) and The Flying Squad (1940). The screenwriter was Willis Goldbeck, who would later be one of the screenwriters for Freaks (1932) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). He would also be a writer for the Dr. Kildare movies of the 1930's and 40's. However J.M. Barrie, the creator of the original story wrote additional scenes for the movie.

Just like in the play, Peter Pan was played by an actress. This ended up being Betty Bronson, who did a fantastic job as the character. However who was to play this role was not decided when the film began. An article in Moving Picture World (dated August 30, 1924) stated "For over half a year the quest for the player to portray the title role in the film version of 'Peter Pan' has been conducted. Seventeen-year-old Betty Bronson won the role of 'Peter Pan' in competition with one hundred aspirants, among them some of the world's greatest artists." According to various articles around the time, actresses considered for the role included Gloria Swanson, Viola Dana, Betty Compson, May McAvoy, Marilyn Miller and Mary Hay. There was a rumor that Mary Pickford was being considered for the role. An article in The Film Daily (dated July 23, 1924) stated "Mary is alleged to be the choice of Sir James and the public for Peter Pan but she has denied vehemently at all times that she would make pictures for any company but her own." The search for someone to play Peter Pan became so famous that an article in Exhibitors Herald (dated August 9, 1924) jokingly stated that the role was going to Jack Dempsey. J.M. Barrie chose Betty Bronson for the role himself, the same Moving Picture World article quoted earlier stated "Tests of every possible player for the role were made and when Herbert Brenon, who will produce the picture, left New York for London a little over a fortnight ago, he carried a trunkload of film from which Sir James Barrie was to make a choice." Bronson was extremely grateful and wrote a telegram to Barrie that stated "I feel like a new Cinderella thanks to you. I realize the importance of your trust in me and my tremendous responsibility. I pledge my every effort to justify your faith. I am the luckiest girl in the world. Betty Bronson." A better actress could not have been picked to play the part, she is not only fun to watch, but captures the small subtleties of the character every time she is on screen.

An article for The Film Daily (dated February 6, 1924)  stated "'Peter Pan' James M. Barrie's famous play is to be produced this summer by Famous Players. While no announcement was forthcoming from the company, it was learned from an authoritative source Friday that the scenario has been completed and that it is planned to have the picture ready for release around Christmas.

"Famous had owned the rights for several years, having acquired them with the rights for Barrie's other works. There has been considerable speculation as to why the picture was not produced long ago, but it is understood that is was held off in the hope that Maude Adams, who created the title role and who scored her biggest success in it, would change her mind and return to the stage. Apparently, hope of getting Miss Adams back on the stage has been abandoned, and as Peter Pan cannot be conceived without her in the title role, arrangements for its production are being made."            

Executive producer Jesse L. Lasky told Motion Picture World, "We have three distinct finds included in the cast. Betty Bronson, selected by James M. Barrie for the title role, is the first. Another is Mary O'Brien chosen to play the role of Wendy. She is a very promising player is an ideal Wendy according to all traditions. The third is Ester Ralston, who has been signed to play the role of Mrs. Darling. Miss Raltson's grace and charm of manner is displayed to splendid advantage as the mother of quaint nursery people."

This film was extremely popular when it came out in the Christmas season of 1924. The critics could hardly hold back their praise. A reviewer for the Los Angles News wrote "The greatest photoplay of its kind ever made." A reviewer for Detroit News wrote "Motion pictures like 'Peter Pan' simply must be made to thrive in this battered old movie world of ours." A reviewer for the Atlanta Journal wrote "Easily one of the most delightful and beautiful productions yet seen on the motion picture screen." A reviewer for the Baltimore Morning Sun wrote, "No finer treat could ever be devised." The movie received $2 million on its first weekend alone. The film was so popular it would be rereleased the next year during Christmas week.

To help advertise the film, thousands of statues of Betty Bronson as Peter Pan were made to be given out to winners of newspaper contests.

-Michael J. Ruhland



MLP:FIM Grannies Gone Wild

This episode is the fourth written by Gillian M. Berrow. Her previous episodes were The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows, Fluttershy Leans In and Daring Done?. The episode was storyboarded by Michelle Ku  and Megan Willis (both have been boarding for the show since season 6). In this episode Rainbow Dash accompanies Granny Smith and friends on a trip to Las Pegasus.

This is a quite enjoyable episode. The humor is often spot on and very funny. It is great seeing these side characters get their time to shine and they do. Rainbow is also very relatable here. She has nothing at all against what the grannies are doing, but Applejack gave her instructions not to let them do it. All in all this is a highly enjoyable episode even if it is not up to par with earlier episodes this season.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Friday, April 13, 2018

Three Pixar Shorts at Disney's California Adenture

Some readers may know that right now is Pixar Fest at Disneyland and California Adventure. This offers much to enjoy for those who love Disney parks like me. Both parks are very well decorated, there is Pixar themed food and you can even learn to draw your favorite  Pixar characters at the Animation Academy. However for film buffs like me one of the most fun things to do at Pixar Fest is at the Sunset Showcase Theater. Here you can watch three Pixar short films in a row. These shorts are For the Birds (2000), Lava (2015), Piper (2016). While these films (especially Lava and Piper) are recent enough for many of us to have seen them in theaters, when originally released, this does not change that watching them again in the same setting is still very fun. Again this is simply a must do for any of my fellow film buffs visiting the park. Hurry though it is only here until May 18th, when it will be replaced by a sneak peak of The Incredibles 2.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Movie Review: Ready Player One

Review Written By Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: B

Review: This is not a perfect movie, but it certainly is fun.

There is a lot to enjoy about this movie. The protagonists are very likable, and well acted (Olivia Cooke is becoming one of my favorite modern actresses). The movie looks spectacular, but the visuals always help tell the story and never distract from it. The story is simple and very charming, as it never delves itself too far into needless complexities seen in too many modern action films (Especially superhero movies). One of the best things about this movie is the humor. The humor is often laugh out loud hilarious. This is especially true of The Shining scene which is brilliant. The movie may have tons of pop culture references, but they never feel like they are here to make the movie hip or cool. Steven Spielberg and his team make all these references feel like passionate tributes to what they love.

On the downside the villain is quite boring. He feels like a stock movie villain, that we have seen to many times before. Nothing new or different is added and little fun is had with this character. The climax of this movie also goes on much too long. It is really fun as it starts off, but as this action sequence goes on it gets boring. Still even with these faults the movie is very fun, and definitely worth a watch.

Also Marvin the Martian is in this movie. Sure it's brief but it made me smile.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Mickey Mouse in "Building a Building" (1933)

Building a Building was in fact a remake of the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon, Sky Scrappers (1928). The main changes between the cartoons is the use of sound. Sky Scrappers was a silent film, while Building a Building is a talkie. With this in mind, a song number and a few sound related gags are added.

Building a Building was directed by Dave Hand, who was directing quite a few of the Disney cartoon shorts at this time. He would go on to become the supervising director for two Disney features, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Bambi (1942).

This cartoon features one of the earliest incidents of a cartoon character getting hit with an anvil. However Walt had done this gag at least once before with the short, Alice the Whaler (1927).

The following is what one exhibitor wrote to the Motion Picture Herald.
 "Building a Building: Mickey Mouse - This is a very good cartoon comedy and one that will make any audience laugh. One of the best Mickey Mouses and here's hoping there are many more to follow. Running Time, nine minutes.  - J.J. Medford, Orpheum Theater, Oxford, N.C. General Patronage."

Animation Johnny Cannon (Iris in steam shovel mouth - pan around and entire shovel goes into goofy action; C.U. of Mickey in cab operating shovel)
Les Clark (Minnie on lunch wagon, singing box lunch song - goes up runway, singing; Mickey and Minnie - they sing end of box lunch song - etc. - kiss and fade out)
Ben Sharpsteen (Gen. shot workmen go into rhythm; Group of riveters - rhythm action - shooting rivets around at girders; Group of painters dancing on fannies to rhythm - look toward Minnie; Minnie dancing along girder - hat blows off and rolls out of scene; Mickey and steam shovel into action - pick up hat; C.U. Minnie - shovel puts hat on her head; Shovel and Mickey both tip hats; Minnie blows kiss; Shovel in happy action, throwing dirt; last shovelful of dirt goes out of scene toward Pete; Mickey salutes and starts out of scene; Mickey grabs wheelbarrow and takes it out of scene; Pushes wheelbarrow onto elevator - starts up towards top of vert. pan - reaches top, out of scene; Minnie on girder waving to Mickey; Horiz. Pan scare-shot - Mickey clowning for Minnie. Pushes wheelbarrow onto rising girder - lands one flight up; Minnie on ground - waves - "Yoo-Hoo" - applauds; C.U. of clock; C.U. whistle blowing "lunch."; Gen shot workmen stopping and heading for ground; Mickey lands - lunch bounces into lap - opens it and starts spreading out food - saws fish - gag; Flash of Minnie reacting; Mickey making Fish sandwich gets ready to eat; Mickey discovers sandwich gone - looks up to Pete, then to Minnie - dejected; Minnie shows sympathy - takes box lunch from wagon - exits towards Mickey; Mickey mad - runs to ladder - climbs out of scene; Pete sees Mickey coming - separates ladder; Mickey runs up ladder - it separates and he xylophones down; Mickey lands - rushes for rope - starts up vert. pan; Shot of pulley - end of rope slides thru.; Mickey climbs on pan - rope ends - climbs in air - bumps head on pulley - swings; Mickey over girder - short pan - swings onto Pete - Minnie released - fight begins; Minnie at forge - grabs popper full of rivets and hook - exits; Drops in Pete's pants - Pete drops Mickey - he and Minnie exit - Pete dumps water barrel into pants - starts out of scene; Pete running - water wagon effect - water peters out; Rope sc. Mickey and Minnie run in - climb up rope; Mickey and Minnie up on girder - transfer rope from hook to anvil - exit; Pete in - grabs rope - it gives way and he starts down; Mickey and Minnie jump into cement carrier - starts down chute; Mickey and Minnie taking curves in chute - the chute; Mickey and Minnie out of chute - hit edge of framework - bounce onto wagon - start away)
Tom Palmer (C.U. Pete - dirt hits him and plans - he yells at Mickey; Pete flirting with Minnie; Minnie gives Pete a polite razz; Pete laughs it off; Pete - bricks falling thru plans - looks up and yells; Pete with wheelbarrow wrapped around him; Mickey looks towards Minnie and smiles; Mickey goes thru Pete's plans - Pete sore -starts chocking him; Pete hears whistle - drops Mickey and grabs for his lunch - Mickey falls out of scene; Pete watches from platform - drops sack; Pete catches sandwich - starts to eat; Pete lets hook down out of scene)
Frenchy de Tremaudan (Horiz, pan - Mickey and wheelbarrow over tite rope - up runway into spill - bricks fall; Mickey lets go of wheelbarrow - falls on short pan - lands on plank; Mickey saws plank - falls to lower plank - mugs Minnie - more sawing gags - finally falls out of scene)

Dick Lundy (Mickey looking sad - Minnie enters with lunch - dialogue; Hook yanks Minnie up out of scene - Mickey looks up sore)
Clyde Geronimi (Pete lands - anvil on head - rivet gun in hand - starts running and shooting (pan); Mickey and Minnie run on pan - rivets cut away boards in back of them; Pete running - hose snags - gun in pants - Later onto leg - Pete tries to run; Pete with gun on leg - jumps crashes starts falling thru girders; Pete falling lands - says "your fired!" - Girder hits him on head)

Story: Mickey is working on a construction site using a steam shovel. Minnie comes to the site selling box lunches. Mickey and Minnie soon begin flirting much to the annoyance of foreman Pete. Pete begins flirting with Minnie but Minnie is not interested. Pete kidnaps Minnie, and Mickey rushes to save her. Mickey does and gets fired. Mickey and Minnie go into business together.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, April 7, 2018

MLP:FIM Fake it 'Til You Make IT

This episode is the fourth written by Josh Hamilton (his previous episodes were Parental Glideance, Triple Threat and Secrets and Pies) The episode is storyboarded by Roxana Beiklik (who has boarded for the show since season 4) and Cat Tang (who has boarded for the show since Season 6).

While this may not be as great as the previous two episodes it is still quite a good one. The storyline is quite charming and while the message has been done before on this show it is still a very useful one. However the best thing about this episode is how funny the animation is. The character's facial expressions and movements are honestly funnier than the jokes. This is shown to its best advantage with Fluttershy taking on various different personalities. She not only acts differently by what she says but how she moves. This perfectly shows us, just how far she is taking this idea. Also hilarious are the raccoons' facial reactions to how Fluttershy is acting. Also while the ponies who aren't Fluttershy or Rarity play a much smaller part in this episode they are still delightful and are given some great lines. Overall while not one of the show's best, this episode is still quite delightful.

-Michael J. Ruhland   

Friday, April 6, 2018

Movie Review: Isle of Dogs

Movie Review Written by Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: A+

Review: Brilliant movie blends quirky comedy and serious social commentary perfectly.

This is a movie that blurs the line between a serious drama meant to make you think and a silly quirky comedy that is just plain fun. This film is both of those often at the same time. This is something that could easily make a bad film when given to most filmmakers. However Wes Anderson is not most filmmakers. He somehow makes this extremely difficult task work perfectly. One way he does this is to have the humor and commentary come naturally out of the story and characters. This movie is first and foremost a story about these dogs and a young boy and any humor or commentary must conform to this. Another way this is done is by having the comedy be played very quiet and low key, staying away from humor that is too noisy. This makes the transitions from being funny to being serious perfectly believable and acceptable. Still with being low key, the humor is often laugh out loud funny. The commentary is likewise very thought provoking. Adding to all this is that the characters re extremely likable and we easily root for them. The animation is also top notch. It adds to the quirkiness of the humor, but is never to over the top for us to take the characters seriously.

This movie is simply a must see for all animation fans.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Movie Review: Paul, Apostle of Christ

Review Written By Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Movie Grade: A-

Review: An extremely moving and powerful film. Very intense but also with a message of great hope.

First things first, this is not a feel good popcorn movie. This is a film about keeping hope in times of great struggle. Scenes depicting what happened to the early Christians, while not overly gory, are disturbing and sometimes hard to watch. This however makes the message of hope all the more powerful. There are times when hope seems impossible, and this movie is about the most extreme of these times. However through God all things are possible. Still despite being followers of Christ, the main characters are still human and these are difficult times they are living in. That helps makes the message of hope much more powerful and relatable.

Naturally being a less than two hour movie, this film is not a complete retelling of the book of Acts. If you are looking for the full story read the Bible. However this movie captures the emotion and hopeful message of the book of Acts. I found myself feeling completely absorbed in the power of this film's message and could not look away from the screen.

Again being a Christian myself may influence my love for this movie, but I feel that it may also move non-believers with its powerful message of hope.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Silent Film of the Month: From the Manger to the Cross (1912)

Run Time: 70 minutes. Studio: Kalem Company. Director: Sidney Olcott. Writer: Gene Gauntier. Main Cast: R. Henderson Bland, Percy Dyer, Gene Gauntier, Alice Hollister, Samuel Morgan. Producer: Frank Marion. Cinematographer: George K. Hollister.

Happy Easter everybody. As Easter is one of the most important days in the Christian faith (which I am blessed to be a part of), I feel it is the perfect time to discuss a classic film about the life of Jesus Christ.

If some of the stories about the making of this film are true, this movie came about in some strange ways. One story is that writer and actress Gene Gauntier (she played the Virgin Mary) came up with the story for this film while suffering from sunstroke. Another story about this film is that R. Henderson Bland was given the lead role, because director Sidney Olcott liked his voice over the phone. This would make some sense if this movie was a talkie, but it is a silent movie.

This movie is a heartfelt and faithful retelling of the life of Jesus Christ. The faithfulness is certainly heightened by the fact that nearly ever intertitle directly quotes the bible. In fact the verse number appears on the bottom of each intertitle.

Also adding to this film's authenticity is that the movie was shot on location in Palestine. However this did not come about for reasons of making a biblical movie. The Kalem Company had gone here to shoot some one reel films in a desert setting, and making this movie was an afterthought. One must realize what an undertaking this was for a New York Studio in the early 1910's, as airplane travel was not yet a possibility.

This movie was a great success. It cost $35,000 to make and made almost a million dollars at the box office. Critics of the time were also very kind to this movie. The film would receive a reissue in 1917.

The Kalem Company released a regular magazine-length newsletter entitled Kalem Kalendar. Below is that newsletter talking about From the Manger to the Cross.

The following is from an issue of Motion Picture News.

"The General Film Company is in receipt of word from England regarding the Kalem feature 'From the Manger to the Cross.'

"The report (and it comes from The 'Film Censor and Exhibitor's Review' of London) is that the picture has made a wonderful hit at the Picture House on Oxford Street. That our English cousins consider 'From the Manger to the Cross' worthy of special attention is evidenced by the fact that the accompanying music is of the highest order, selections from 'The Messiah,' 'Elijah,' 'Judas Maccabeus,' 'Olivet to Calvary,' and 'The Crucifixion' being rendered by such well known artists as the King's Trumpeter, William Short, A. R. A. M., Miss Elizabeth Davies, Henderson White and Ward Cowdray."

Resources Used

Fifty Great American Silent Films, 1912-1920: A Pictorial Survey by Anothony Slide and Edward Wagenknecht.
-Michael J. Ruhland