Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Movie Review: For the Love of Money


Michael's Movie Grade: F

A bottom of the barrel triller with absolutely no redeeming qualities. 

This film is unfortunately one of the movies that simply consists of horrible people doing horrible things. The problem with these movies is that it is hard to care about anything going on. These movies can only work if they have clever social commentary or a really dark sense of humor. Unfortunately, this film lacks the dark sense of humor and the social commentary is anything but clever (it consists of briefly mentioning social problems and then dropping them quickly after). Because of this we are left with nothing but unpleasantness for the length of the film and it simply becomes a chore to simply watch. The characters themselves are beyond horrible. They never once feel like real people. In fact, they feel like stereotypes of characters we have seen in many other movies. Most of the characters can simply be described by one character trait. For instance, one character who plays a major role is simply stupid and nothing else. However, our main character is the worst offender. Not only is she so much like so many other characters we have seen in other movies with nothing new added, but she is also completely unlikable. Perhaps if the film had us believe that she was illegally selling drugs only to help her daughter that might have made her a bit likable. However, we quickly see that she is doing this for her own selfishness and her one likable trait goes out the window. This leaves us with not a single character who is likable or interesting enough to carry the movie. Because of this, it is hard to find one reason to care when anything happens. There are some twists and turns in this movie, but rather than shocked by them I found myself feeling completely indifferent when they happened because by that time, I had long stopped caring. This movie also features a lot of dialogue that simply feels forced. I would say this dialogue takes you out of the movie, but chances are that you will not be involved enough to be taken out of it. The delivery of some of these lines felt a little awkward, but after thinking about it, I don't think there is an actor in the world who could possibly make this script not feel awkward. 

Avoid at all costs.   

Video Link: This Month on TCM: December 2021

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Cowboy Church #147

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

Since Thanksgiving has just passed, it is officially Christmas season. Because of this, today's musical selection begins with a Christmas song. That song is the old favorite Silent Night sung by our good friend Roy Rogers. This recording comes from 1940 and Roy is backed by the Jimmy Wakely Trio, who also appeared with Roy in the movie, Saga of Death Valley (1939). Next is Emmylou Harris singing Light of the Stable. Emmylou recorded this song in 1975. She would later state "Light of the Stable is one of my favorite tracks we ever cut. It was the jelling of the original recording group, the combination of Brain's [Brain Ahern] production and how incredibly creative those guys were was perfect. There is almost more space on the track then there are notes and I always loved that." The song would become the title track of her 1979 Christmas album, which I personally consider one of my favorite Christmas albums. This is followed by Johnny Cash with These Hands. This recording comes from his 1962 gospel album, Hymns For The Heart. Afterwards is Josh Turner singing I Serve a Savior, the title song off of his 2018 gospel album. Next is The Sons of the Pioneers with Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.  This hymn began creation with a man named Anthony Showalter. As a fan of gospel music and an elder in a Presbyterian church, he held many "singing schools" at various churches in the south. One day he received two letters from former students who were struggling after their wives had passed. To respond to these letters, Showalter consulted scripture. He came across Deuteronomy 33:27, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." After reading this verse lyrics for a song chorus went through his head and he wrote down, "“Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.” After using this in the letters to his former students he sent this chorus to his friend hymnist, Elisha Hoffman. In the letter he also wrote, “Here is the chorus for a good hymn from Deuteronomy 33:27, but I can’t come up with the verses.” Hoffman then wrote the rest of the lyrics to which Showalter put to music. The hymn was published in 1887. This is followed by one of my Christmas favorites, Waylon Jennings' version of Away in a Manger. Waylon's voice fits this hymn so perfectly and there is no other version of this song that quite matches the power of this one. Away in a Manger has also been called Luther’s Cradle Hymn. The reason for this is that it was once believed to be written for Martin Luther, who would have sung it to his children. This proved to be false. It was in fact written for a collection that was meant to celebrate Luther's 400th anniversary. Some think that this rumor was started to help sell the song. It is unknow who actually wrote this hymn. The music continues with George Jones with In a Gospel Way. This is the title song of George's 1973 gospel album. Today's musical selection ends with a true Christmas classic, Gene Autry's 1949 recording of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. After Gene had a hit with Here Comes Santa Claus, it seemed natural that he needed a Christmas follow-up. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer ended up being that follow-up. Rudolph as a character made his debut in a children's book by Robert L. May, that was a free booklet that was handed out to kids at Montgomery Ward. The song was written by May's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks. Marks would later say about writing this song, "I thought about it for a while and sat down to write a song about it. That song was easily one of the worst songs ever written. Then about a year later I was walking down the street when a new melody came to me. It's the only time that ever happened to me, and I have to admit it is a great melody." When this song was sent to Gene, he was originally hesitant to record it. He was not a fan. However, his wife Ina loved the song. It is widely believed that Ina talked Gene into recording this song. With all the recordings of this popular Christmas carol over the years, Johnny Marks said Gene's version was his favorite. In 1961 he told Gene, "What I sent you in 1949 were ink dots on a piece of paper. You had to translate this into a sound, lyrically and musically, that people would like. How many great songs have been lost because of the wrong rendition? Many people have said 'Any one could have had a hit with Rudolph.' My answer has always been: 'We'll never know. I only know that Gene Autry did do it, and that all the other followed."

Next is an episode of Roy Rogers' TV Show.

Next is the C.S. Lewis essay, Must Our Image of God Go?

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:4-5

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. Romans 15:7

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. Romans 14:1

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. Job 8:7

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Thanks for joining me. Come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again. 

Resources Used

Public Cowboy no.1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry by Holly George-Warren



Light in the Stable liner notes. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #150

 Hello my friends and happy Saturday morning. Once again it is time for some classic cartoons. 

Today's cartoon selection begins with The Pink Panther in The Pink Quarterback (1968). Like many of the best Pink Panther cartoons, this film is based around an extremely simple storyline that the filmmakers get as many slapstick gags as they can from. The highlight of this movie is the ending, which is just a perfect gag. 

With Thanksgiving over, for many people, myself included, that means it is officially Christmas season. Because of this these posts will start to include Christmas cartoons. There will be a few Christmas cartoons in each Saturday Morning Cartoons post until Christmas day, which will be nothing but Christmas cartoons. First up is one of my favorite Christmas cartoons, The Little King in Christmas Night (1933). 

Home Movies, 1943

Next comes the last cartoon featuring our old friend Scrappy, The Little Theater (1941). 

Next comes one of the greatest Christmas cartoons of all time, Santa's Workshop (1932). This movie marks the fourth Silly Symphony in color and as is true of many of Disney's early color films, the filmmakers never took color for granted. I would dare to say that few filmmakers have ever used color as effectively as the Disney studio did at this time. All these decades later and this cartoon still looks incredible. Many of you may know that Walt Disney himself voiced Mickey in many cartoons. In this movie we get to hear him voice another character in a similar falsetto voice, this is one of Santa's elves and I am sure many of you will quickly recognize the voice. The other elves were voiced by J. Delos Jewkes and Pinto Colvig (the voice of Goofy). Walter Geiger voiced Santa. A working title for this film was Santa's Toy Shop. It premiered at the Roxy in New York on December 16, 1932 playing alongside the feature film, Man Against Woman. It played with this movie from the 16th to the 23rd. It would continue to play at the theatre from the 24th to January 1st, 1933 this time playing alongside the feature. Rare for a short cartoon at this time, Santa's Workshop was revived in big name movie theatres in 1933. This film went through production relatively fast beginning in September 1932 and hitting movie theatres by December of the same year. This cartoon would later receive a sequel, The Night Before Christmas (1933). In 1936 an idea for another Silly Symphony cartoon centering around Santa and his helpers at the north pole was proposed. In this cartoon a little boy would have been shrunk to the size of a toy and given a chance to see Santa's workshop. One title for this would have been The North Pole. This idea never came to be. The following is an Exhibitors Review from the Motion Picture Herald. "Santa's Workshop: This is the greatest one-reeler we have ever had the pleasure of screening in our theatre and did the kids flock in! It is filmed in glorious color and there is only one word that can describe it - beautiful. Just as the name suggests, it shows Santa's workshop where all of the toys are made and just the type of short for this season. We played this three days and many patrons young and old, saw it two or three times. Many thanks to Walt Disney and United Artists for this great short. Running time, eight minutes - J.J. Medford, Orpheum Theatre, Oxford, N.C. General Patronage." The following are some Exhibitors Reviews from the Motion Picture Herald. "Santa's Workshop: Silly Symphony - An excellent all color short you will do well to book. They just rave over it. Running time, seven minutes - Wm. A. Crute, Victoria Theatre, Vancouver, B.C. Neighborhood Patronage." "Santa's Workshop: Silly Symphony - Excellent and drew considerable business. - B.R. Johnson, Orpheum Theatre, Kerrobert, Canada, Rural Patronage." "Santa's Workshop: Silly Symphonies - These cartoons are good but an exhibitor can feed his public up on them by booking too many. Once a week is plenty. Running time, eight minutes. - Edmund M. Burke, Fort Plain Theatre, Fort Plain, N.Y. General Patronage."

Now it is time for a commercial break. 

Next comes Betty Boop in Judge for a Day (1935). This movie has everything I love about Betty Boop cartoons from the 1930's as it is equal parts cute and sadistic. The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "Judge For A Day: Betty Boop Cartoons - Just a fair one reeler, not much to laugh at. Running time one reel. -Rudolf Duba, Royal Theatre, Kimball, S.D. Small Town Patronage." 

Variety, 1958

Next comes Speedy Gonzales and Daffy Duck in Well Worn Daffy (1965). Around the mid to late 1960's, many Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were being made that pitted Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales against each other (two characters who had not worked together previously). This not being a natural teaming (like say a cat and a mouse), each film had to find a different reason to pit them against each other. To do this Daffy Duck often had to take a new role. While he had already changed from the wild and crazy duck of his earliest cartoons to a greedier self-centered duck, these films often made him an all-out villain. In this movie, Daffy is especially villainous even denying the little mice a drop of water. 

Let us wrap up by singing one we all know. 

Resources Used

Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series by Russell Merrit and J.B. Kaufman

Friday, November 26, 2021

Movie Review: Encanto


Michael's Movie Grade: B

A really fun and beautiful looking animated Disney film.

What makes this movie work is our main character Mirabel (who may look a bit like this film's co-director, Charise Castro Smith). This is a character that I find it hard not to like. She is a nice, kind person and the kind you would love to have as a friend in real life. Yet she is not too perfect to be believable. She does have a temper and can jump to conclusions about people. This does not stand at all in the way of her being likable because they are faults that all of us can relate to and simple work to make her more human. She is also incredibly relatable due to not only the circumstances she is in but the way those circumstances affect her. We have all felt like the odd man out or that our best efforts simply were not good enough. The fear of letting others down in fact plays a role in this movie beyond just this one character and that is something that makes the film emotionally effective. Even though the story may resemble other Disney movies, all the emotional moments hit home just the way they should. This is because even though the film is filled with Columbian culture, at its heart it is a universal story that anyone anywhere can relate to. As is to be expected from an animated Disney movie, this film is visually beautiful. Like has been the case for Disney films (dating all the way back to the Good Neighbor films of the 1940's), the crew went to Columbia on a research trip and there is no doubt that the filmmakers have perfectly captured the visual beauty. This movie is stunning and even though it looks very much like a Disney film, the Columbian atmosphere helps it stand out.

This may be the first and last time I ever say this, but the most disappointing part of this Disney movie is the songs. These songs (written by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton and In the Heights fame) are instantly forgettable and are simply pleasant at best. They are neither Disney nor Miranda's best work and even though I just watched this movie a couple hours ago, I am having trouble remembering what some of them sounded like and for the first time I didn't leave an animated Disney movie with a song stuck in my head.  This movie also has simply too many characters in the main family to give all of them they time they need. Because of this some of them feel less developed and more one note than others. I also admit despite the jokes, I simply heard less laughter in the movie theater than I did with other recent Disney films. The humor is not bad at all, but simply not as great as many other Disney movies.  

This is a delightful movie that should delight Disney fans both, new and old. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving


Silver Screen, 1931

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:4-5

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

And on that day you will say, "Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted." Praise the LORD in song, for He has done glorious things; let this be known throughout the earth. Isiaih 12:4-5

Monday, November 22, 2021

Movie Review: Gintama THE VERY FINAL


Michael's Movie Grade: B

A really fun finale to the long running anime franchise.

This movie heavily works due to its humor and action. The quirky sense of humor is set up perfectly right from the beginning. There is a recap of what has happened previously in the franchise, done as a parody of Dragon Ball. This crazy sense of humor persists through the rest of the film is delightful. Not every gag works, but the ones that do are very funny and the ones that don't still add to the chaotic and fun energy of the movie. Everyone in the movie theater with me laughed a lot at the pure zaniness of this film. The movie only gets crazier towards the end and the laughs got more frequent and louder as the film went on. The movie not only makes fun of its safe, but anime and manga as a whole as well as movie conventions. None of this is subtle are sophisticated but that never stops it from being funny. The action scenes are also fantastic. They are delightfully over the top but never too much so to become a joke themselves. The filmmakers walked this fine line perfectly. These scenes provide everything people love about action packed anime and action scenes as a whole. Most of all they are just as fun as the humor and a complete visual delight. The characters are also excellent. There is a reason that they have endeared themselves to anime fans for so long. As is excepted from movies based off a TV show, not all the characters are given the screen time they deserve but none of them are wasted either. 

Unfortunately, too many of the story is told in unnecessary flashbacks that feel just like what they are, exposition. Most of the dramatic scenes also pale in comparison to the comedic and action-packed ones. They are not bad at all, but they lack the power you feel they should have. 

All in all, this is a delightful movie that will delight both fans of the anime and newcomers. 


Sunday, November 21, 2021

Cowboy Church #146

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

With Thanksgiving coming up I feel the best way to start this service of Cowboy Church is with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing Thank You God. This was the A-side of a little Golden record, Roy and Dale made in 1956. The B-side being Let there Be Peace in Earth. On this recording Roy and Dale are joined by The Ranch Hands and Mitch Miller (pop culture buffs may know him for the 1960's TV show, Sing Along With Mitch). Next is Gene Autry with one of the great Thanksgiving spirituals, Bless This House.  This recording comes from an episode of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch radio show, that aired on November 21, 1947. Gene is joined by The Cass County Boys, The Pinafores, Johnny Bond and Carl Coter;s Orchestra. Next comes Johnny Bond with his 1952 recording of Peace Be Still. As I would assume many readers of this blog are fans of Gene Autry, many of you might know him as Gene's guitarist for many years and a regular on Gene's Melody Ranch radio show (starting in 1940). He also made quite a career as a songwriter with songs such as  Cimarron (Roll On)Hot Rod Guitar, Ten Little BottlesWe Might as Well Forget It and Tomorrow Never Comes (which he co-wrote with country music legend Ernest Tubb). This is followed by Josh Tuner with How Great Thou Art. This classic hymn was originally based on a poem by Swedish Pastor Carl Gustav Boberg. He wrote this poem after walking home one day and a sudden storm came. When the storm stopped he saw the clear bay in front of him and heard a church bell in the distance. This inspired him to write the poem. He first published it in 1886. When he published it again in Witness of the Truth (A Newspaper he edited in 1891, it included both words and music. The English language version we all know was translated by missionary Stuart K. Hine.  Next is Johnny Cash with Thanksgiving Prayer. Johnny originally sang this song for a 1994 episode of the TV show, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. The song was written by Josef Anderson who was a producer for that TV show. Afterwards is The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1951 recording of The Lord's Prayer. Today's music selection ends with Roots Worship Collective with When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. The legend goes that Isaac Watts wasn't a fan of the music at his church. That music was Psalms presented in metered renditions. They were sung by a canter and were repeated without enthusiasm by the congregation. When Isaac told his dad this, his dad responded with “I’d like to see you write something better.” A few hours later, Isaac wrote this song. He wrote this song back in 1707. 

Next is a Thanksgiving episode of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch radio show.

Up next is C.S. Lewis's essay, Is Theism Important.

 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4:6

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17 

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Psalms 100:4

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1

 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children..." Matthew 11:25

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High. Psalm 17:7

From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained. Jeremiah 30:19

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Thanks for joining me. Come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #149

 Hello my friends and welcome back for a special Thanksgiving edition of Saturday morning cartoons.

First up is a true Thanksgiving classic, Tom Turk and Daffy (1944). Unlike Christmas or Halloween, there really aren't a wide variety of Thanksgiving cartoons, which is odd once you think about how hunting a turkey is a perfect subject for a cartoon. However the idea of hunting a turkey in a cartoon was done to perfection in this film. The cartoon was directed by Chuck Jones, who is often credited with playing a major role in turning Daffy from his early crazy self into a self centered character bent on self-preservation-ism. While Daffy had not fully turned into that character by this point this cartoon shows that sneaking into the character. In this film Daffy is willing to sell-out his friend he vowed to protect when temptation gets the better of him (Those darn canned yams!). The idea of Daffy simply being too weak to resist temptation is fully in line with the Daffy we would see in later Jones cartoons. Yet he is still has the wild energetic streak that characterized the older Daffy Duck cartoons. In an interview with film historian Joe Adamson, Chuck would state, "What you do is multiply your own weakness, I guess, in a character like Daffy. There was no problem after I began to understand what he was all about. My Daffy and Friz's [Looney Tunes director, Friz Freleng] are also a little bit different , Friz was the one you might say, who got him into that cowardly self-preservation. The minute he did it, I understood what that was; I knew how I'd feel. It's that awfulness, when you're on the battlefield, of realizing when your buddy is shot that your basic feeling is one of relief: that it wasn't you. Well Daffy says that. He says, 'I may be a mean little duck but I'm an alive little duck.' or when he gave Bugs up to the Abominable Snowman, he said, 'I'm not like other people: I can't stand pain - it hurts me.' When I'd go home, I'd tell Dorothy [Chuck's wife] a line like that, which just occurred as I was working. I'd say, 'You know what that guy Daffy did today?' and I'd repeat the line and then she'd look at me. She never got used to this, She'd say, 'Well, you were drawing it you did it.' I'd say 'That's not true! It just developed! That's what he said. It was natural for him to say it.'" Despite this cartoon being Thanksgiving themed, Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald's book, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to Warner Brothers Cartoons, lists the film release date as February 12th, 1944. The story credit for this film goes to "The Staff" and as far as I know this is the only Warner cartoon with that credit. I do not know the reason for this if any of you do please let me know. 

Next comes another Thanksgiving cartoon starring Daffy Duck, Holiday For Drumsticks (1949). This movie was directed by Art Davis, who was only a director of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons for a short period of time but whose cartoons have gain a strong following from Looney Tunes fans for their unique and very funny sense of humor and characterizations. The film was written by Lloyd Turner, who wrote most Davis' cartoons for Warners (often he would co-write them with the future voice of Bullwinkle, Bill Scott). Turner would go on to write for many TV sitcoms including Get Smart, All in the Family, The Jeffersons, The Partridge Family and Mork and Mindy

Next comes one of the greatest Thanksgiving films (short or feature length) of all time, Tex Avery's Jerky Turkey (1945). The design for the pilgrim in this cartoon had been used by Tex earlier in Big Heel-Watha (1945). 

Next is an extremely charming Hugh Harman film, Tom Turkey and his Harmonica Humdingers (1940). A review in The Film Daily called this movie, "...a mildly amusing cartoon." A review in Motion Picture Daily stated, "This falls short of the Hugh Harman standard." A review in The Exhibitor stated, " Loaded with laughs and music this jitterbugging affair had a projection room audience eating out of its hands." A review from Boxoffice Magazine calls this movie, "A neat burlesque of a well know harmonica virtuoso, with its chief protagonists country store barnyard clubmen, this item has regulation animation and continuity and should make pleasant diversion." The well know harmonica virtuoso mentioned in that review is  Borrah Minevitch and His Harmonica Rascals. 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Short Story, 1940

Now for a commercial break. 

Thanksgiving is a time when many families get together. So let us see our friend Koko the Clown get together with his family in Reunion (1922).

Next we join our old friend Scrappy for a trip to Holiday Land (1934). This movie marks not only Scrappy's first appearance in color, but is the first color cartoon from the Columbia studio. This is also the first film of Columbia's Color Rhapsody series. 

The Film Daily, 1934

Today's cartoon selection ends with the TV Special, Garfield's Thanksgiving (1989). 

Thanks for joining me. Come back next week for more animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry. 

Resources Used

Chuck Jones: Conversations Edited by Maureen Furniss

Tex Avery by John Canemaker

Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to Warner Brothers Cartoons by Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald


Friday, November 19, 2021

Movie Review: King Richard


Michael's Movie Grade: B

A well made and engrossing biopic. 

More than a sports movie or an underdog story, this film is a character study of a complex character. I honestly don't watch sports at all and before this movie was only familiar with Venus and Serena Williams through seeing TV commercials. If you were to mention Richard Williams to me, I would have thought you were talking about the animator. Because of this I have no idea how truthful or fact based this depiction of Richard Williams is, but I know I found him a really fascinating character. While this movie paints him as a good man, it does not ignore any of his flaws. In fact often they are often front and center. In these moments you can get frustrated or even infuriated with him but never so much as to make him too unlikable. There were times I wish the film could have delved deeper into the darker ramifications of how he tried to run and plan out these two girls lives, but that would have made a very different movie. This film does a lot to make sure that we understand where he is coming from on each of his decisions, right or wrong and it is because of this that we become emotionally involved in the story. Adding to this character is an excellent performance by Will Smith. Will Smith is often known for playing fairly one note characters that don't allow him to stretch his acting range. However this film shows that he is a really good actor and that given the right role he can turn in a great performance. However he is not the only performance that makes this movie, Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams is also excellent. Even at a young age and with a brief filmography, Saniyya has already had quite a film career under her belt having also appeared in such critically praised movies as Hidden Figures and Fences. Her she turns in an extremely fine performance that adds a lot of emotion heart to this movie. In the ending scene you can see just what a good actress this young girl is.

 This movie's climatic tennis scene is an excellent example of suspense filmmaking. By cutting back and forth from the game to scenes with Venus' family, director Reinaldo Marcus Green creates a very engaging sequence that will even keep those who (like me) find sports boring rooting for Venus. 

On the downside this movie is much longer than it needs to be and it can drag at times. As much as this film lets us get to know Richard, Venus and Serena, the other characters can come off as bland and boring, even the other siblings. 

While far from a perfect movie, this is a delightful biopic and character study with truly great acting. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Movie Review: Ghostbusters Afterlife


Michael's Movie Grade: B+

An excellent sequel and the best Ghostbusters film since the first one. 

This film focuses around a group of kids who when ghosts attack a small town must become Ghostbusters themselves to save the day. Because of this as much as this is a Ghostbusters movie it is also a coming of age story and a darn good one too. The two main kids are characters we truly grow to care about over the course of the film. This is especially true of Phoebe (Mckenna Grace). She is a geeky and very awkward kid, who has a hard time making friends. Yet as we get to know her we get to care about her because underneath her awkward exterior, she is simply a really cool person. She remains the emotional heart beneath all the action and comedy and fulfills this role very well. Yet she also adds a lot to those two elements. Her jokes not only cracked me up but the whole audience in the movie theater and her awkward delivery makes these jokes all the funnier. Her older brother while not that deep is quite likable and provides some pretty funny moments as well. Though this movie is not as packed with jokes as previous installments in the franchise, the humor is often excellent. I especially love the classroom scenes, which provide a clever and really funny satire of public education. The mini-pufts also provide some pretty good slapstick. The action scenes are also quite good. While the climax can go on a bit too long, it is still quite exciting and a visual treat. The story while it offers nothing new is very charming and will certainly delight fans of the franchise. Speaking of delighting fans of the franchise, the original Ghostbusters do appear in this movie even if briefly. Not only did this get applause from the audience I saw this film with, but these characters are very well handled and the actors have not lost a bit of their great comic delivery. 

Unfortunately both of the romances in this movie are quite bland and boring, as well as never given the time to be truly developed. There are also a few scenes that feel like they are simply exposition. 

This is a movie that is sure to delight Ghostbusters fans of all ages. 

Note: This film was directed by Jason Reitman, who was not only the director of such movies as Juno and Tully but is also the son of Ivan Reitman who directed the original Ghostbusters film. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Movie Review: Belfast


Michael's Movie Grade: B+

Kenneth Branagh's most personal film (his own words) is irresistibly sweet and heartfelt.

This movie tells the story of a young boy growing up in Belfast, Ireland in the 1960's among much unrest and violence. Anyone who is familiar with director, Kenneth Branagh's childhood will find that there is much here that is very similar to his own childhood. Perhaps that is why much of imagery and atmosphere in this movie is so vivid. What really makes this film something special is the little moments. This can perfectly be seen in the scenes that take place at the "pictures." Seeing the movie screen light up this little boy's eyes and imagination is magical and reminds us film buffs, what made us fall in love with movies to begin with. The scenes with the grandparents sitting and talking with each other and our protagonist are also delightful. The dialogue here feels incredibly real and natural. Through these scenes the characters become much more than characters in a film but real people. We simply enjoy spending time with them and listening to them the way we do our own family and that kind of easy going and seemingly effortless charm make a world of difference. This also makes it so that when the emotional moments of the plot kick in, we completely care about what happens to these characters. Despite being a sweet and sentimental film, this movie never sugarcoats anything. Yet despite this the sweetness is still present throughout and delightful. The reason for this is that we see the world through the eyes of our main character. This character is not dumb and can certainly grasp a lot of what is going on, but on the other hand he does not have the cynicism that an adult character would have. This works extremely well and this movie would not have been as good told from the point of view of any other character. 

Black and white movies are a rarity these days. That is why I appreciate that this film was not only made in black and white but looks beautiful in it. Black and white has a look and feel that is completely different from that of color and this film uses that look and feel to its full advantage.

Unfortantly this film does have a few problems. One is that the girl are main character has a crush on has so little screen time that we never get to really know what her personality is. When this part of the plot disappeared and reappeared later, I realized that I had kind of forgotten about this part of the story. This movie also has a weak antagonist character who has little personality outside of being mean to our hero's family. 

All in all this is an excellent movie and a delight for film buffs.     

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Cowboy Church #145

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

Today's musical selection begins with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing Sweet Hour of Prayer. This hymn was written by William Walford. Walford was a wood craver who had little to no formal education. However what he did have was a very close relationship with God. Those who knew him said that he knew the bible by heart and this man was even asked to share sermons at his church. One day around  1845 Pastor Thomas Salmon visited William Walford. Walford asked Salmon to write down a poem he had in his head. Salmon was so amazed by this poem that he right away sought to get it published. After Walford's death, William Bradbury wrote music for this poem and the hymn as we know it first appeared in the 1859 hymnal, Church Melodies. Bradbury had also composed music for such hymns as Just as I Am and He Leadeth Me. This recording comes from Roy and Dale's 1957 album of the same name. This is followed by the Dixie Reelers 1936 recording of I Shall Not Be Moved. Next comes The Statler Brothers with There's Power in the Blood. . This song was written in 1889 by Lewis Edgar Jones while at a camp meeting taking place at Mountain Lake Park, MD. When Bob Dylan made his 1962 debut album (simply titled Bob Dylan), he was not yet known as a songwriter or a poet. Instead he was an interpreter of old folk songs. Though this first album featured two songs written by Bob Dylan, the majority of the album consisted of old folk and blues songs. One of these was the gospel-blues tinged In My Time of Dyin'. The liner notes for the album state, "Dylan had never sung In My Time of Dyin' prior to this recording session. He does not recall when he first heard it. The Guitar is fretted with the lipstick holder he borrowed from his girl, Susie Rotolo, who sat devotedly and wide-eyed through the recording session." This is in my mind one of the highlights off the album and one of my all time favorite vocal performances by Bob Dylan. Despite the many jokes about his voice, there are quite a few times, when he turned in a great vocal performance and this is one of those times. Next is The Petersens with Be Thou My Vision. This hymn began as an Irish poem  that may date clear back to the 8th century. In the early 1900's  Irish scholar Mary Byrne translated this poem into literal prose. This version of the hymn first appeared in Eriú (a journal for School of Irish Learning) in 1905. Eleanor Hull would then adapt this into a versified version. That version would appear in her own   Poem Book of the Gael in 1912. In 1919 this hymn appeared with the melody of the traditional Irish song, SLANE in The Irish Church Hymnal and this is the version of the hymn we know today. This is followed by The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1937 recording of Lord You Made the Cowboy Happy. Today's musical selection ends with Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings singing The Greatest Cowboy of Them All.

Next comes an episode of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch radio show dated July 26, 1942

Next is the C.S. Lewis essay, Religion: Reality or Substitute

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Boast not thyself of tomorrow; For thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

                                            Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Thank you for joining me. Come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #148

 Hello my friends and welcome back for another selection of classic cartoons. 

Today's cartoon selection begins with a later Pink Panther short, Pet Pink Pebbles (1978). To say this film is a remake of Rocky Pink (1976) is an understatement. It is the same cartoon only with a new sequence (taking place in a park) added. Still Rocky Pink was a good cartoon and so is this film. 

For anyone interested in movie history, many of the Disney cartoons of the 1920's are essential watching. The reason for this is that many of them are directed by Walt himself. All of us know Walt Disney as a producer, a studio head, a TV personality and one of the movies' greatest ambassadors, however in these short films we get to see him in the director's chair. Next we have one of the cartoons he directed, El Terrible Toreador (1929). This movie marked the second Silly Symphony cartoon and the first one directed by Walt. As with many early Disney films, this cartoon features many gags that go against the rules put in place in the later Disney cartoons. For instance the later films would not allow body parts to detach or stretch to impossible lengths. Yet in this movie, both of those are common sights. There are also some somewhat risque gags that wouldn't fit with Disney's later squeaky clean image. Despite this only being the second Silly Symphony, the series already boasts an incredible cast of animators. Ub Iwerks (Walt's right hand man and one of the main influences on the early Disney style) animates the bullfighting scenes and supervised the work of the other animators. Burt Gillet (who would go on to direct many great Mickey Mouse cartoons as well as The Three Little Pigs (1933)) animates the meeting of Carmen and Don Jose. Wilfred Jackson (who would direct some of the best Silly Symphonies and be one of the directors of features like Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953) and Lady And the Tramp (1955)) animates Carmen's dance. Les Clark (one of the best Mickey animators and one of Walt's nine old men) animates a close-up of Don Jose. Jack King (who would direct some excellent Donald Duck cartoons) animates Escamillo confronting Don Jose. Ben Sharpsteen (who would be the supervising director for Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940) and Dumbo (1941)) animates the introduction to the bullfighting scene. 

Boxoffice, 1961

Next comes an excellent Daffy Duck cartoon, A Coy Decoy (1941). This movie was part of a series of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies in the 1930's and 1940's that featured books coming to life at night. The first of these was I Like Mountain Music (1933) and the last was  Book Revue (1946, also starring Daffy Duck). This movie features the early Daffy Duck meaning he is not yet the greedy and attention seeking duck he would be later. He is just simply crazy which works perfectly with this crazy short. As much as I love the later Daffy, I have a special fondness for this early crazy duck. A review in The Motion Picture Daily states, "The net result is moderate amusement." The following is an exhibitor's review from The Motion Picture Herald, "COY DECOY, A: Looney Tunes Cartoons—A dandy black and white cartoon.—C. L. Niles, Niles Theatre, Anamosa, Iowa, General Patronage." 

Jan Švankmajer is one of the greatest masters of stop motion animation and one of Czechoslovakia's finest filmmakers. He is a self described surrealists and his films (feature and short) have pushed the boundaries of what animation can be. Many of these films are open to many interpretations  and require the viewer to do much of the work. One of his best movies is the short,  Dimensions of Dialogue (1982). 

Now for a commercial break.

Big Bad Sinbad (1952) is an interesting cheater cartoon. This is because it only uses clips from one previous cartoon. The previous film is Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor (1936). That short ran more than twice as long as the normal Popeye cartoon. With this short being more of a regular length, this movie plays as a shorter version of the earlier film with a new opening and closing. One change that appeared in the Popeye films between the two cartoons is that Popeye's outfit changed from black to white. Because of the reused footage though this movie is the rare 1950's Popeye cartoon with Popeye wearing his old outfit. 

Motion Picture Herald, 1935

Next is Mr. Magoo in Magoo Saves the Bank (1957). 

Let us close by singing one we all know. 

Resources Used

Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman

Of Mice and Magic: A History of the American Animated Cartoon by Leonard Maltin

The Disney Films by Leonard Maltin


Friday, November 12, 2021

Movie Review: Clifford the Big Red Dog


Michael's Movie Grade: B

An irresistibly sweet and charming family film. 

This movie captures exactly what makes the books and the TV show so near and dear to so many people's hearts. This is a charming simplicity and a lack of any cynicism. This is the type of movie that will make you smile and make the world seem a little brighter when you leave the theater and isn't that just what you want from a film like this. Seeing a social misfit become a hero or a giant red dog bringing joy into the lives of those who need it most or seeing a town of people truly come together because of this dog, is seeing the world the way we all saw in our hearts and minds as children come to life. This makes this story a fantasy that can capture the hearts of not only kids but those who are kids at heart. This movie may not be perfect but this alone made me easily forgive any flaws because in this way it felt like entering these books that I read as a kid. 

Despite a fine adult cast, this movie is easily stolen by child actress Darby Camp. In her performance she brings a lot of heart and sincerity to this film. Because of her performance, this fantasy story feels real and personal to us and it is because of her that the emotional moments work so well. We care for her so when we see her heart break, our hearts break a little too. 

Like many family movies today, this film is full of humor from start to finish. Because of this there are some real laugh out loud moments, but there are also some jokes that really don't work. Still in my opinion the best jokes make up for the ones that aren't as great. 

This movie does however suffer from a boring villain. There is nothing really interesting about this villain or much that will stay in our minds when the film is over. The filmmakers try to use humor to make this character work, but unfortunately the jokes that revolve around this character are the worst ones in the movie. The film is also pretty predictable and anyone who has watched enough family movies can guess how it will end. 

All in all this is a delightful movie for the whole family. While it does have some flaws, these are made up for by the film's incredibly charming and sweet nature.  

Linus Van Pelt - Theologian


Monday, November 8, 2021

Movie Review: Sabina - Tortured for Christ, the Nazi Years


Michael's Movie Grade: A

A truly top notch Christian film that can stand up there with some of the best secular films of this year. 

This is a movie that goes beyond simple platitudes and one that could never be considered to simply be pandering to its Christian audience. Instead it is honest, open and frank and will cause any Christian watching it to examine their own walk with the Lord. It never sugarcoats its message but looks at what a real Christian worldview should be an why it is so difficult for any of us living in this world. This is done through its characters (based off real life people) being real three dimensional characters who hurt and struggle just like any one else. Though what they have done, hiding Jews from the Nazis and trying to convert the Nazis to real Christianity and repent of the horrible deeds they committed despite being of Jewish decent themselves, are things nearly of us could never imagine doing, they are not shown to be superhuman and it is obvious that without Christ they would never be able to do it. This becomes obvious in the early scenes before they are converted. Sabina herself holds a hostility toward Christians, because people who claimed to be Christians bullied her for being Jewish. With this in mind it is obvious that she could never be one to show kindness to anyone persecuting her race without Jesus Christ having changed her from the inside. Yet this movie never plays down what the Nazi's did, and the horrors they inflicted. This is a truly honest movie that would never sugarcoat one of the greatest tragedies in the history of man kind. Yet at the same time it reminds us that as long as one is on this Earth it is never too late for them to turn to God and change themselves completely. This is a powerful message but one many of us (like Jonah) do not want to hear. To approach such a subject so intelligent and thoughtfully is something that sadly too few Christian films would even attempt. 

This movie is also as great as it is because of the wonderful performances by Raluca Botez and Emil Mandanac as the leads and a tight direction and great script from John Grooters (one of the best Christian filmmakers of our time). 

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Movie Review: Spencer


Michael's Movie Grade: B

An intense and heartbreaking look at Princess Diana.

Despite being about the life of Princess Diana, this film is anything but a traditional biopic. This movie has a strange dreamlike and purposely unreal feel to it. This is because the film is more interested in putting you into the mental state of our main character than our character's actual life. If you are like me and never really paid attention to British royals or their lives, then you will still know very little about this subject afterwards. However this is not a fault of the film at all because what it does, it does quite well. The idea of feeling like you are somewhere you don't belong or that you are forced to live a life and be a person who is not you is something that all of us can relate too. While we have never had it to the extreme that Princess Diana does in this movie, we can still to some extant understand and feel for her. As such I could feel my heart break for her during many scenes and there were times the film could even be difficult to watch for this reason. Much of this though is not only due to her situation but to Kristen Stewart's fantastic performance. This is one of the best performances of her career and I am sure it will cause many who have written her off to stop and take notice. There is never a moment where her performance ever feels anything less than completely real. The emotion is also perfectly captured by the visual filmmaking of director, Pablo Larraín and cinematographer,  Claire Mathon (who has worked on plenty of French films including Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)), both of whom create a film that visually is as emotional as any on screen performer can be. Jonny Greenwood's musical score is also great and not only a joy to listen to but perfectly fit the action on the screen.

This movie does have its faults though. Though we get emotionally attached to our main character, the rest of the characters are quite bland and boring. This fault is at its worst when it comes to her kids. These kids are supposed to be the one light in her life. Because of this they should be some of the most likable characters in the film, but they are not interesting in the least bit. This movie also suffers from getting too into its own dreamlike state and this simply takes you out of the film. There is also quite a bit of dialogue that feels a little forced. 

This may be flawed but it is a unique and emotionally impactful movie. 

Cowboy Church #144

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

Today's musical selection begins with Stuart Hamblen with This Old House Has Got To Go. Stuart Hamblen was one of the best and most important names in Cowboy gospel music. One of his most beloved compositions is the gospel classic This Old House, which would be made a massive hit by Rosemary Clooney. What some of you may not know is that this song has a sequel and that is this song. The first song debuted in 1954 and this sequel song in 1966. This is followed by Johnny Cash with When I Take My Vacation in Heaven. This song was written by Herbert Buffmun, a Pentecostal Evangelist who lived from 1879 to 1939. Writing gospel music was a passionate hobby for him and he is said to have written around 10,000 songs with around 1,000 of them being published. Ripley's Believe It or Not claimed that he once wrote 12 songs in one hour. However songwriting can hardly be said to have made a living for him. Most of his songs were sold for $5 or even less. This did not stop The Los Angles Time from calling him, “The King of Gospel Song Writers” upon his death. This recording of the song comes from John's 1962 gospel album, Hymns From the Heart. This album featured a number of gospel songs, John grew up with as a child including this one. Next is The Purple Hulls with I Just Wanted You to Know. This comes from their 2012 album, Close to Home. Following is The Sons of the Pioneers with their 1934 recording of Open Up Dem Pearly Gates. This upbeat gospel number also shows the band's wonderful sense of humor. To me the highlight of this song though is Hugh Farr's excellent fiddle playing. Next is Don Gibson with Power In the Blood.  This hymn was written Lewis Edgar Jones in 1889 while at a camp meeting at Mountain Lake Park, Maryland. It was first published in Songs of Praise and Victory the same year and Gospel Praises. Though he had written well over 100 hymns to his name (including I’ve An­chored in Je­sus and We Shall See the King Some Day), this remains his most popular hymn. This is followed by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing In the Sweet Bye and Bye. This song came about because of a friendship between composer, Joseph Webster and poet, Dr. Sanford Fillmore Bennett. One day Webster was depressed and Dr. Bennett recognized this. Dr. Bennett asked his friend what was wrong. Webster replied, "Oh nothing. Everything will be alright by and by." This words brought up an idea in Bennett and he wrote down three verses and a chorus to this song as soon as he could. He handed it to his friend saying, “Here is your prescription, Joe.” Webster loved the lyrics and wrote music for them in practically no time at all. Dr. Bennett later said,  “It was not over thirty minutes from the time I took my pen to write the words before two friends with Webster and myself were singing the hymn.” The hymn was first published in 1868 and went on to great fame since. This version of the song comes from Roy and Dale's 1973 gospel album, In the Sweet Bye and Bye. Today's musical selection ends with The Carter Family's 1928 recording of Keep On The Sunny Side. This song was written by Ada Blenkhorn (lyrics) and J. Howard Entwisle in 1899, however it was this version that made the song a country music standard. 

Next is an episode of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch radio show, dated September 20, 1953.

Next is the C.S. Lewis essay, God in the Dock.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. Acts 3:16

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

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

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6–7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18

Thanks for joining me. Come back next week for another service of Cowboy Church. Happy trails to you until we meet again. 


Saturday, November 6, 2021

Turn Your Clocks Back Tonight


Motion Picture News, 1923

Exhibitor's Herald, 1923

Some Cartoons For Saturday Morning #147

 Hello my friends. Happy Saturday morning and welcome back for another selection of classic cartoons.

Today’s cartoon selection begins with  a great Pink Panther cartoon, Genie With the Light Pink Fur (1966). For the most part the best Pink Panther cartoons were the ones that avoided dialogue. This film is an exception as it uses the limited use of dialogue (provided by Ralph James) in a very clever way. You only hear dialogue when our pink hero opens the lamp. This idea is not only clever but allows the short to remain essentially a silent slapstick comedy despite the presence of some dialogue. In a way I find this reminiscent of the use of dialogue in Charlie Chaplin’s brilliant Modern Times (1936). 

Now for a classic Bugs Bunny cartoon, 8 Ball Bunny (1950). This was the second of two films that teamed Bugs Bunny with a penguin, who would become known as Playboy Penguin (the first being Frigid Hare (1949), both these films were directed by Chuck Jones). This cartoon also features  a caricature of Humphry Bogart, whose appearance here is a parody of his role in the John Huston movie, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). The voice of Bogey here is provided by Dave Barry, who also voiced Bogey in Slick Hare (1947) and voiced Elmer Fudd in Pre-Hysterical Hare (1958). He can be seen in live action in the movies, Some Like It Hot (1959) and Spinout (1966) among others. 

Next comes the 8th Dogfather film, Watch the Birdie (1975).  While by the 1970's most studios were no longer making cartoons for movie theaters, DePatie-Freleng was helping keep the animated short film alive with multiple series. One of these series were the Dogfather cartoons for the mid-1970's. These shorts were a take-off of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972) with the titular character even sounding like Marlin Brando. 17 theatrical cartoon shorts were made of this series. This film is a remake of the Sylvester cartoon, Dr. Jerkyl's Hyde (1954). 

Ivan Ivanov-Vano is one of the most beloved names in Russian animation. He directed a wide variety of films (both short and feature length) that range from children's fairytales to social commentary to art films. One of his loveliest films is the animated short, Seasons (1969).

Now it is time for a commercial break. 

Next comes the first of Walt Disney's Alice comedies, Alice's Wonderland (1923). Before this film was even close to done with production, Walt was already writing distributors stating, "We have just discovered something new and clever in animated cartoons!" He was speaking of the idea of having a live action character enter into an animated cartoon world. This was actually a reversal of what the Fleischer Brother were doing with their Out of the Inkwell films, were animated characters entered our live action world. For the live action little girl Walt hired four year old Virginia Davis. Walt had seen Virginia on an advertisement for Warneker's Bread. Virginia later spoke of this stating, "It was just a picture of me smiling and looking like 'Oh, yum, yum!' and eating this piece of Warneker's Bread with a lot of jam on it." At the time of making this film, Walt and his studio were struggling financially. While many producers would take this as a reason to make a cheap film, Walt plugged into the project with everything he had. This short was downright lavish compared to much of Walt's previous work and still looks great today. Unfortunately the film was not enough to save his company, but it did catch the attention of Margaret J. Winkler, who was also distributing the Felix the Cat and Out of the Inkwell cartoons. His studio went under and Walt moved to Hollywood without his crew. Yet he had this film and was able to secure a deal for 12 more Alice films with Winkler.  

Exhibitor's Daily Review, 1927

Next is Flip the Frog in Funny Face (1932). The following are some exhibitor reviews from The Motion Picture Herald. "Funny Face: Flip the Frog - Just another cartoon that pleased the children but not the adults. Flip has had some sorry cartoons this season and here's hoping he gets a better break next season. Running Time, 9 minutes. J.J. Medford, Orpheum Theatre, Oxford, N.C., General Patronage." "Funny Face: Flip the Frog - Just that much more pen and ink wasted. Not so much for a cartoon. -Mayme P. Musselman, Princess Theatre, Lincoln, Kan. General Patronage." "Funny Face: Flip the Frog - Good cartoon. - Robert K. Yancey, Paradise Theatre, Cotter, Ark. Railroad and General Patronage." 

Motion Picture Herald, 1931

Today's cartoon selection ends with Mr. Magoo in Fuddy Duddy Buddy (1951).

Production Design, 1952

Thanks for joining me. Come back next week for more animated treasures. Until then may all your tunes be looney and your melodies merry.

Resources Used

Walt in Wonderland: The Silent Films of Walt Disney by J.B. Kaufman and Russell Merritt.

Animation Art Edited by Jerry Beck.