Saturday, November 30, 2019

Movie Review: Knives Out

Michael's Movie Grade: A-

Top notch entertainment on every level.

It is hard to make a who-done-it that is actually a good mystery. Most of the time the answer is either too obvious or there is not enough information for us to guess it. The mystery here is definitely solvable but it is not so easy to solve that it doesn't take some paying attention and thinking. Director/writer Rain Johnson certainly knows his way around a murder mystery and not surprisingly does a fantastic job here.

The mystery isn't the only great part about this movie though. The characters are all very interesting and many of them work on quite a few different levels. The casting is perfect. Daniel Craig is extremely entertaining, but never too over the top as the detective hired to solve the mystery. Chris Evans shines as a character, that is very different from what we are used to seeing him play. Despite this Ana de Armas steals the movie as the film's real starring character. She may not be as big of a name as the others in the cast, but she more than holds her own with them. The humor is fantastic. This movie is often just as much a comedy as it is a mystery, and it successeds extremely well at this. There were many times that I laughed out loud. This is also a very good looking film, with Steve Yeldin's cinematography especially standing out.

This is simply a fantastic movie and great entertainment.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #47 - Christmas Edition

Hello my friends and welcome back for another Saturday Morning of classic cartoons. For me the Christmas season begins as soon as Thanksgiving is over. Since this is the first Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, this is the first Saturday morning to be exclusively about Christmas cartoons, which will continue until the Saturday before Christmas day. So sit back and enjoy these classic Christmas cartoons. 

With the studio's latter day reputation, a Disney Christmas cartoon sounds like it would be very cute and sentimental. However in the early 1930's Disney films, especially the Mickey Mouse cartoons, were often just one gag after another and that is exactly what Mickey's Orphans (1931) is. Despite having a story that could easily be extremely sentimental, the story is just an excuse to fit in as many slapstick gags as possible. A review in the Motion Picture Herald stated "The youngsters will get a real kick out of this short, and the oldsters will extract a bit of enjoyment." A review in The Film Daily gave the same sentiment stating "It will delight all children and get many a laugh from their elders." An issue of The Film Daily (Dated February 7, 1932)  stated "In addition to El Brendel in person this week's show at the Roxy is a special treat for the kids. The presentation includes four scenes based on 'Mickey's Orphans,' the Mickey Mouse cartoon that was held over for three weeks at this house. The characters of Mickey and Minnie are portrayed by the Arnaut Brothers, popular pantomimists. Patricia Bowman, Fred Waring's orchestra in a novelty entitled 'Dancing Melodies,' and the Roxyettes also are part of the proceedings. In the Mickey scenes, the Roxyettes and ballet group are made up to represent kittens, musical notes and animated furnishings in Minnie's boudoir." This cartoon was reissued to theatres in 1934.  


Santa's Surprise (1947) is an especially delightful Christmas cartoon from Famous Studios. This cartoon is best remembered as the first cartoon to feature the character of Little Audrey. Little Audrey was an original character for the studio and also a replacement for Little Lulu, who the studio had made a series of cartoons with in the past. Little Lulu was not created by the studio but was the star of a comic strip by Marjorie Henderson Buell. When Paramount decided not to renew the license for Famous Studios to use that character, Little Audrey was created. The character was designed by veteran Disney animator Bill Tytla (possibly my favorite Disney animator), who was know a director at Famous. This short's lead animator was Myron Waldman, who specialized in cute animation (often shining his best in the studio's Casper series). Myron would later remember this cartoon as one he was especially happy with.

My favorite Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon is True Boo (1952). This film puts a lot of delightful Christmas spirit in with its traditional Casper story. The gags where Casper uses everyday objects to make toys, heavily borrows from the Max Fleischer Color Classic, Christmas Comes But Once a Year (1936).

Next is one of my favorite of Rudolf Ising's Merrie Melodies from the early 1930's, The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives (1933) the beginning of this cartoon is as atmospheric as these early Merrie Melodies got, and the song is extremely catchy.


The last cartoon for this post is from a very underrated cartoon series. This is Van Beuren's Little King cartoons. These films were often extremely creative and quite funny. This cartoon offers one very creative moment after another, showing what the series could be at its best. This short movie is Christmas Night (1933).

Thanks for joining me come back next week for more animated Christmas treasures.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Friday, November 29, 2019

Movie Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Michael's Movie Grade: A-

What makes this movie so magical is what made Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood such a respected TV show. That is saying that this film tackles deep and important subject matter without an ounce of cynicism or ever talking down to its audience.

This movie could not be more different from director, Marielle Heller's last bio-pic Can You Ever Forgive Me? Unlike that film, we don't focus on a character who could easily push the limits of likability. Even if you are not a fan of his TV show, it is impossible not to respect or admire Fred Rogers as a person. This movie does discuss (albeit at times almost too briefly) Fred's more human faulted side, it does this in such a way that never gives us a more cynical view of the man. In fact it makes us respect him all the more as we learn that he worked hard to be the extremely nice person he was. Through his faith in God and his ways of finding positive ways to deal with negative feelings, he became the type of man many of us would aspire to be. However the focus is on the reporter who interviews him. It is hard not to relate to this reporter who is also shown to be a good man, but one who struggles daily with dealing with his negative thoughts. Here is where the movie hits its heaviest theme. That is how to forgive someone who hurt you deeply and how not to let that pain run the rest of your life. There is no one in the world who such a thing is easy for and therefore it is hard not to have an emotional connection to what we see. Most of all this film is about the effect Fred has on this young man.

This is also a masterfully made movie. The filmmakers know how to get the most out of so little. In fact one of the most powerful scenes in this movie involves two characters sitting in complete silence for about a minute.

My familiarity with Mr. Rogers is fairly limited. I never grew up with his show, since as a kid I was more into slapstick comedy. In fact many more serious "kids" movies and shows, I got more interested in once I grew up because as a kid I simply wanted something that would make me laugh. However this never once hampered my enjoyment of this lovely movie. So even if you never grew up with this show, I still can't recommend this movie enough.

This is the kind of feel good non-cynical movie that would be nice to see more often in today's times.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Silent Films on TCM This December

Hello again my friends, as I know many of you like me are huge fans of both silent movies and TCM, here is a list of all the silent films on TCM this December.

Sunday, December 1st
The Smart Set (1928) Director: Jack Conway. Starring William Haines and Jack Holt. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.

Monday December 2nd
The Squaw Man (1914) Director: Cecil B. DeMille. Starring Dustin Farnum and Monroe Salisbury. 3am Pacific. 6am Eastern.

Scaramouche (1923) Director: Rex Ingram. Starring Roman Novarro and Lewis Stone. 6:30am Pacific. 9:30am Eastern.

The King of Kings (1927) Director: Cecil B. DeMille. Starring HB Warner and Dorothy Cumming. 11am Pacific. 2pm Eastern.

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) Director: Fred Niblo. Starring Ramon Novarro and Francis x. Bushman. 5pm Pacific. 8pm Eastern.

The Sea Hawk (1924) Director: Frank Lloyd. Starring Milton Stills and Enid Bennett. 11:45pm Pacific. 2:45am Eastern.

Sunday, December 8th
Within Our Gates (1920) Director: Oscar Micheaux. Starring Evelyn Preer and Flo Clemets. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.

Sunday December 15th
Beauty's Worth (1922) Director: Robert G. Vignola. Starring Marion Davies and Forrest Stanley. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.

Sunday, December 22nd
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) Director: Fred Niblo. Starring Rom Novarro and Francis X. Bushman. 9:30pm Pacific. 12:30am Eastern.

Saturday December 28th
 Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922) Director: Benjamin Christensen. Starring Benjamin Christensen. 12:30am Pacific 3:30am Eastern.

Sunday, December 29th
The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (1921) Director: Rex Ingram. Starring Rudolph Valentino and Alice Terry. 9pm Pacific. 12am Eastern.

Monday, December 30th
The Prisoner of Zenda (1922) Director: Rex Ingram. Starring Lewis Stone and Alice Terry. 11:30am Pacific. 2:30am Eastern.

-Michael J. Ruhland

A Quick Thanksgiving Message

As I wake up this Thanksgiving, morning I know I have a lot to be thankful for. God has blessed me very much and in all aspects of my life. I have incredible friends and family, all of whom I love very much. I have food on my table and a song in my heart. I am also thankful for this blog and that I get to share my love of movies with all of you. I am thankful for everyone who takes time to read this blog and appreciates the hard work I put into it. God bless each and every one of you and may you all have a great Thanksgiving.

 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Also here is a cartoon for you all.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Michael's Christmas Movie Guide: The Night Before Christmas (Noch pered Rozhdestvom) (1951)

The Night Before Christmas was made for  Soyuzmultfilm, probably the most important Russian Animation studio, which has produced The Snow Queen, The Humpbacked Horse, and Nu, Pogodi!. It was directed and written by the Brumberg sisters (Valentina and Zinaida), who have been called the Grandmothers of Russian animation, and had directed the films The Lost Letter and It Was I Who Drew the Little Man.
This film is an example of the Socialist Realist movement in Russian Animation at this time. This movement was heavily inspired by both Disney animation of 1930's and 40's, and Socialist Realist painting style. This movement was characterized by realistic animation and folk-lore. It is also represented by heavy rotoscoping (tracing over live action film) which is very prevalent in this movie.
This film is not based off the popular poem, but rather Nikolai Gogol's story. So there is no sign of Santa Claus here. The story instead focuses on a blacksmith who wishes to win the love of a beautiful woman. To do this he rides on the devil's back to get her a pair of slippers for Christmas.
This movie is very charming. The backgrounds are downright amazing, The story is very good. The characters all quite likable, if underdeveloped. The animation of the characters is stiff at times, but still works quite well. While the rotoscoping is obvious and kind of dates the film, it still works just fine. The character designs are quite well done. However most of all this is a movie just filled with wonder, and is quite a joy to watch. While it falls short of the Disney films that inspired this movement, it is still very good, and highly recommended.

This movie can be found on YouTube.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Michael's Christmas Movie Guide: Mon Oncle Antonie (1971)

This French Language film has been voted by critics as the best Canadian Film of all time at Toronto International Film Festival for three decades in a row. Is it deserving of this praise? Well I have not seen every Canadian film ever made, but I can perfectly believe this praise. This is a masterpiece.

The original title for this movie was Silent Night. This referred both to the story's Christmas setting, but also to the time period it takes place. It refers in part to life in Quebec before The Quiet Revelation. This was not a happy time, and unlike many Christmas films, this is not nostalgic in the least.

This film is directed and Co-written by Claude Jutra, who is one of the most respected Canadian directors, having directed such films as Take it All. He spent a while in France earlier where he worked with such great French directors as François Truffaut and Jean Roach. Truffaut had even produced Jutra's short film Anna la Bonne

This movie is a great work of art. It is much deeper, more complex, and thought provoking than it's seemingly simple story would have you think. Many critics and audiences still argue about what the film is truly about. Rather than give you a detailed analysis of what this film is about I will rather let you watch it for yourself. I do this not because I don't have my own theory (which I do), but because I think that coming up with your own interpretation, while watching this film will enhance your movie watching experience. Also what has to be mentioned when talking about this film is Michel Brault's excellent cinematography, which is just incredible. This is an art film, so some might be turned off by that, but I recommend giving it a try anyway, because there are much worse things you can do with your life than to watch a great work of art like this.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Resources Used

Monday, November 25, 2019

Movie Review: Frozen 2

Michael's Movie Grade: B

While this may not be the instant classic the first Frozen was, it is definitely a good movie in its own right.

The main reason many of us went to see this movie is to see more of these great characters and luckily they are just as great here as they were in the first film. Elsa is just as much of a mysterious but extremely likable character. Anna is still my favorite having an extremely good heart and a selfless love for her sister. Olaf is just as charmingly naïve and eternally good hearted. Kristoff gets a bigger chance to shine in this movie and he really does. His awkwardness is both charming and relatable.

The songs are the one place where this movie surpasses its predecessor. Sorry Do You Want to Build a Snowman or Let It Go but All is Found is easily my new favorite Frozen song. The melody and lyrics are haunting beautiful and whenever the song was sung I felt my emotions being moved. Lost in the Woods and Into the Unknown are also just as good if not better than any of the songs in the first film.

The story is definitely a good one and fits the characters and the world of Frozen well. However it is definitely conventional and there was not one second where I could not predict what would happen next, nor did I ever feel this story offered me anything previous animated movies haven't.

The humor is hit and miss. When it hits it is very funny. I love Olaf's way of play charades and Kristoff practicing proposing to Anna made me laugh out loud. Still there where moments were it felt like the filmmakers were trying to force humor and what felt so naturally in the first film did not work as well here.

This may not be as good as the first film, but taken on its own merits it is easily a good movie.

-Michael J. Ruhland  

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #46

Hello my friends and welcome back to another Saturday morning full of classic cartoons. 

We begin with an offbeat Disney short from the early 1960's. By this time the Disney studio was no longer producing animated shorts regularly as they had done in the 1930's or 40's. However the studio had not stopped producing these films as a whole and cartoons like this would appear at times. These films were of the same high quality that Disney cartoons had always been. As a country music fan, this following short has a special interest for me as its music is provided by Rex Allen and The Sons of the Pioneers. So enjoy The Saga of Windwagon Smith (1961).

Anyone familiar with the Columbia Krazy Kat cartoons knows they bare little to no rebalance to the George Herriman comic strip on which they were supposedly based. Krazy was turned into a Mickey Mouse clone and the supporting characters disappeared completely. There was however one exception to this and that was the cartoon, Lil' Ainjil (1936). This film does a surprisingly good job at capturing the feel of the classic comic strip. This is especially true of the background art, which had the same distinct look that appeared in the comic strip. The cartoon also features other characters from the strip including Ignatz Mouse, Offissa Pup and Mrs. Kwack. Much of the story also revolves around the idea of Krazy enjoying Ignatz hitting him/her with bricks. Cartoon buffs may recognize Offissa Pup's voice as that of Billy Costello, the first voice of Popeye.  Interestingly with how this cartoon was so different from any other in the Columbia cartoon series a review in The Film Daily called it "The usual troubles of Officer Pup while trying to keep Ignatz Mouse from socking Krazy Kat with bricks." The same review called this film "Just fair." This is not a perfect cartoon, but it is quite fun to see how this series could have been had it been more faithful to the strip.

Dancing Mice (1931) could have been an appropriate title for many of the black and white Terrytoons, consider how full of mice these films often were. However it was the name of this one. This is a very typical yet enjoyable example of the Terrytoons cartoons of this era.

When Gene Deitch took over the Terrytoons studio in 1956, he drastically changed the style of the studio's output and got rid of all the studio's reoccurring characters in favor of new ones. However there was one Terrytoon from this era that used the one of the previous characters. That character was Dinky Duck and the cartoon was It's A Living (1957). This cartoon served as a satire on the films the studio used to put out, Cinemascope (which this film was made in) and TV commercials. This is an excellent and very funny film that is one of the best Terrytoons from this era.

This week's selection of cartoons ends with an especially good Pink Panther cartoon, Dial P For Pink (1965). Enjoy.

Thanks for joining me come back next week for more animated treasures.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Movie Review: Frankie

Michael's Movie Grade: B+

A lovely and engrossing slice of life film.

This movie is in many ways the film equivalent of a nice vacation. When the movie ended I didn't want to leave, I wanted to spend more time with these lovely people in this lovely place. The cinematography (by Rui Poças) and locations are incredible. There was never a moment I could look away from the screen as I was overcome by the visual beauty in front of me. The characters are fantastic as well. Perfect for this movie, they are people we would like to spend time with. They have completely well thought out personalities that are complex while remaining extremely likable. The dialogue is equally fantastic. They talk about the little everyday things that we all talk about. However underneath this is a hidden depth, especially when it comes to the movie's theme of Frankie accepting her own mortality. This is all enhanced by how fantastic this movie's cast is. There is not one weak link. Isabelle Huppert's subtle and subdued performance especially stands out. Director and co-writer Ira Sachs does a fantastic job tying all this together into an excellent whole. Many critics compared this movie to an Eric Rohmer film, and the influence can easily be felt. However it must be stated this film never tries too hard to be an Eric Rohmer movie, but rather is an excellent heartfelt film that is influenced by that great French director.  

If I had one problem with this movie it is the subplot of a family that is friends with Frankie and the parents debating divorcing. This honestly is quite bland and doesn't feel like it needs to be in this other wise great movie.

A nice relaxing movie that has some hidden depth underneath all that.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Monday, November 18, 2019

Movie Review: Charlie's Angels

Michael's Movie Grade: C

An enjoyable little time at the movies, even if little more.

This film manages to be enjoyable despite its major faults due to likable characters, great performances and some good action. All three leads (Kristian Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska) are quite good in this film bringing likability and humanity to characters that could have easily just being movie character stereotypes. The three also work together very well, which is very important because this movie focuses on the sisterhood between the three. I will admit Kristian Stewart stands out as she brings a great amount of energy to the film. Because we like these characters, the action scenes become more exciting. These actions scenes are also quite well done and never drag or feel rushed.

This is a deeply feminist movie. That is not a fault in itself of course as there are many great movies that are deeply feminist. However this movie does something that those great movies normally avoided. It pounds its message into us over and over. In the first scene where we see Jane and Sabina kicking the butts of powerful men, I got and appreciated this feminist message. Seeing them kicking butt is as clearly feminist as can be, and this is why we don't need tons of cliché dialogue, songs with on the nose lyrics on the soundtrack and a poorly done montage telling us directly and repeatedly what we have already gotten out of this film. This made me feel like I was being talked down to as if the film didn't think I was smart enough to get its obvious message.

The comedy in this film is hit and miss. While I did get some laughs, there were also scenes that I found painfully unfunny.

The story is a very by the numbers affair offering us things we have seen a million times in the same way we have seen them. To be fair the story is an enjoyable one, but still an overly familiar one.

Don't go into this movie excepting anything great. However if you are like me and sometimes want to go to a movie because you like to go to a movie, this film offers you an enjoyable enough time.

-Michael J. Ruhland    

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Jazz Legends on Film #1

Hello my friends. I don't know about you guys but being a fan of classic films has introduced me to a lot of great vintage music. For instance I don't think I would listen to jazz music if it wasn't for great old films. When talkies came about jazz was at the height of its powers and many music fans wanted to see their favorite jazz musicians performing on screen. Because of this many true legends of jazz appeared in films. Today (and a few days in the future) I am going to share with you some great examples of jazz music in classic films. 

If you had to ask me what the best jazz film ever made was, I would have to go with Jammin' the Blues (1944). While most short subjects featuring popular musicians performing, simply placed the camera in front of the performers and let them play. This film does not do that at all. Instead director Gjon Mili and cinematographer Robert Burks (who my fellow film buffs will know went on to become Alfred Hitchcock's cinematographer on many of his most famous films) create a visually unique and jaw dropping film. The music is jazz music at its finest featuring such great musicians as Lester Young, Red Callender, Harry Edison, Matthew Morris, Sidney Catlett, Joe Jones, Barney Kessel, John Simmons, Illinois Jacquet and Marie Bryant. A review in The Exhibitor said "Lighting, camera work and direction by Gjon Mili are first rate." 

Unusual for a short subject this film received a three page article in American Cinematographer. You can read this below. If any of the pages are hard to read you can click on them and use your touch screen to zoom in.

Next comes a classic short subject starring the King of Hi De Ho himself, Cab Calloway. This film is called Cab Calloway's Hi De Ho (1934). The story isn't much to write home about but the music is fantastic. However I will admit I really like the ending gag.

The feature film Stormy Whether (1943) featured quite a few jazz greats in it, including the one and only Fats Waller. Here is Fats Waller performing Ain't Misbehaving in that movie.


Many vintage music fans are familiar with the Vitaphone Varieties. This was a series of short films from the late 1920's and early 1930's that featured various musicians and vaudeville acts performing in front of the camera. While few of these are cinematic masterpieces, they give us a great glimpse into a type of entertainment that is gone today.  Here is a typical Vitaphone Variety, Jazzmania Quintette (1928). This film features the jazz violinist Georgie Stoll as well as Edythe Flynn.


I have not been shy about my love for the Paul Whiteman feature film, King of Jazz (1930). Here is the great Rhapsody in Blue scene in that movie.


One of the all time great film scores is for Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows (1958). The score for this movie was done by the one and only Miles Davis. Here is a scene from the movie featuring some great music by Miles.

Thanks for joining me, I will have more of these posts in the future.

-Michael J. Ruhland


Cowboy Church #36

Hello my friends and welcome back for another service of Cowboy Church. 

Today's musical selection begins with Lorretta Lynn singing a lively version of I'll Fly Away This is followed by Lynn Anderson with Wanderer's Prayer. This comes from Lynn's first gospel album, Bridges. Though she had been recording since the 1960's, her first gospel album wouldn't be until 2015. This was also her last album as she would pass away the same year. Lynn would state that the words of this song spoke directly to her and listening to them it is not hard to tell why. Going back a few years next is The Monroe Brothers 1936 recording of We Read of a Place That's Called Heaven (more commonly known as How Beautiful Heaven Must Be. Next comes Johnny Cash with a song he wrote himself called Fourth Man in the Fire. This is one of two songs he wrote that are about a particular story in the book of Daniel (the other being Belshazzar). This version is from his 1978 Christmas TV special. This is followed by The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1941 recording of What Wonderful Joy. The music selection ends with Roy Rogers with The Cowboy's Prayer. This comes from the 1973 album him and Dale Evans made together, In The Sweet By and By.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. Micah 7:18
And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10. Thanks for joining me come back in a couple weeks for my first Cowboy Christmas post. Happy trails to you until we meet again.

-Michael J. Ruhland

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Movie Review: The Good Liar

Michael's Movie Grade: B

An engaging thriller that requires more than a little suspension of disbelief.

So much of the success of this film comes from our two stars (Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren). These two give nearly perfect performances playing characters that in lesser actors' hands would have not worked at all. Ian McKellon plays a fantastic conman. He is perfectly charming when he needs to be but completely ruthless at other times. You can fully see why so many have fallen for his fake charm, yet at the same time when we see the real him, he is as dark and sinister as can be (honestly I was kind of surprised by just how dark this character can be at times). Helen Mirren is equally fantastic in her role, playing perfectly off of her costar. The basic storyline of this film is a good one (if not an original one), and it is very well told, especially when it comes to some very well written dialogue and engaging characters. This is also a very visually engaging movie, and though the film can be quite dialogue heavily the look of the film always enhances the story very well. This is especially true of Tobias A. Schliessler's excellent cinematography. Carter Burwell's musical score is also quite good.

The biggest fault of this film is the biggest fault of many thrillers. The twists and turns require too many coincidences that have to work out absolutely perfectly for these twists to make sense. The more you think about these twists the less believable they become and one wonders how the characters possibly planned for each of these coincidences to work out exactly as they did. This becomes much truer as the movie goes on. However this fault is still won over by how good what works in this movie is.

-Michael J. Ruhland    

Carl Mayer in His Own Words

I am sure many of you like me are huge fans of the classic German Expressionist films of the silent era. Some of the best of these movies featured Carl Mayer as a writer. His credits include The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Last Laugh (1924) and Tartuffe (1925). He was also a writer on what is considered by many to be one of the best films of the silent era, Sunrise (1927). I was immediately intrigued when I passed by his name (admittedly spelled "Karl")  in an old movie magazine. Here is that article which features words from the man himself. This article is from a 1938 issue of World Film News. If you have trouble reading these pages click on them and use your touch screen to zoom in.


-Michael J. Ruhland 

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #45

Hello again my friends. Happy Saturday morning. Of course with each Saturday morning comes more classic cartoons on this blog. 

The famous cat and mouse where not the first cartoon duo to be named Tom and Jerry. Before this the Van Beuren studio made a series of cartoons with a human duo named Tom and Jerry. These character were rather typical stars at the studio. That is too say they don't have much in the way of personality, but are pleasant. Despite this their cartoons were often very good, featuring lots of imaginative gags and stories. An especially enjoyable Tom and Jerry is Pencil Mania (1933). 

During World War Two every cartoon studio did cartoons revolving around the war. At Terrytoons these films often starred the duo of Gandy Goose and Sourpuss. The cartoon Barnyard Blackout (1943) casts the duo as Air Raid Wardens. However most of the film's focus is on a rooster struggling to respond to a surprise blackout. A review in Showman's Trade Review called this cartoon "...familiar slapstick that should amuse children." A review in The Exhibitor stated "This isn't very funny." A review in The Film Daily stated "Gandy is always good for plenty of laughs." I personally enjoy this cartoon.

During the 1940's and 50's the best directors of Disney's short cartoons were Jack Hannah and Jack Kinney. These two directors provided the studio with some its most cartoony and laugh out loud funny cartoons. For the most part Kinney worked on the Goofy cartoons, while Hannah directed the Donald Duck cartoons. Occasionally Hannah would direct a Goofy and Kinney would direct a Donald. Such an example is the excellent Goofy cartoon, Foul Hunting (1947).

In the late 1950's and early 60's Kellogg's Cereal was the sponsor for most of the Hanna-Barbera TV cartoons. As such it should be no surprise that various TV commercials for Kellogg's were made featuring the Hanna-Barbera characters. Here are a few examples.


This post ends with a fantastic Popeye cartoon from Famous Studios. While due to the later entries Famous Studio Popeyes get a bad reputation, the early ones from Famous are actually excellent films. Case in point, Me Musical Nephews (1942).

Thank you for joining me for this collection of classic cartoons. Come back next week for more animated treasures.

-Michael J. Ruhland