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Director: Harry S. Palmer
Release Date: 1916
Rating: ★★

Professor Bonehead Is Shipwrecked © Mutual-Gaumont‘Professor Bonehead Is Shipwrecked’ is a short animator Harry S. Palmer made for Mutual-Gaumont. Little can be found about this artist, except that his most well-known series was called ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’, which he had to quit in 1916 because J.R. Bray sued him for infringement of his cel patent.

It’s not even clear whether Professor Bonehead was the star of a series or not. In any case this film is the only one I can find. Perhaps it was a one-shot attempt. I wouldn’t be surprised, because so much is happening in this brief rather stream-of-consciousness-like film the result is hard to comprehend.

The film starts with a drawing of Professor Bonehead out of an inkwell. Then we watch him riding the waves, and being washed ashore carrying a huge egg, which hatches into a miniature duck-billed man. The duck-billed man chases Bonehead, who makes a jump to escape, right into the cook pot of a cannibal tribe, etc. and so on. The film ends with Bonehead and the duck-billed man making a car out of a log.

The film uses stop-motion, cut-out and full animation, but is completely devoid of timing. Some of the animation is remarkably good, however. Especially the rolling waves during the opening scene are very impressive. Nevertheless, the film is too random to be truly enjoyable, and it clearly didn’t secure Palmer’s position in the animation canon.

Watch ‘Professor Bonehead Is Shipwrecked’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Professor Bonehead Is Shipwrecked’ is available on the Thunderbean DVD ‘Uncensored Animation 2: Cannibals!’

Director: Paul Terry
Release Date: October 18, 1916
Stars: Farmer Al Falfa
Rating: ★★

Farmer Al Falfa Sees New York © Paul TerryIn 1915 Paul Terry joined the Bray studio and introduced a character of his own called farmer Al Falfa.

Farmer Al Falfa never amounted to something of an interesting character, like for example a Bobby Bumps or Felix the Cat, and I doubt whether he ever had many fans. Yet, the animated farmer lasted until 1937, and even didn’t completely disappear after that.

‘Farmer Al Falfa Sees New York’ is Farmer Al Falfa’s ninth film, and has the farmer visiting the big city, where he’s seduced by a remarkably realistically drawn woman. Later he plays cards with some cheating criminals, only to win after all.

Unlike J.R. Bray, Paul Terry was a rather poor draftsman, as this film clearly shows. The animation is weak and formulaic, and the farmer and the woman don’t inhabit the same cartoon universe. The result is a rather inferior cartoon that nevertheless foreshadows the quality of most animation of the silent era, unlike Bray’s own early high quality films.

Indeed, most of the secret of Terry’s success did not lie in the quality of his work, but in his working speed. Yet, his stay at Bray’s studio was not a happy one, and at the end of 1916 he left, only to get inducted in the army. A few years after World War I, in 1921, Terry would return to the animation business, co-founding a studio with Amedee J. van Beuren, reviving his character Al Falfa, and becoming one of the biggest players in the field.

Watch ‘Farmer Al Falfa Sees New York’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Farmer Al Falfa Sees New York’ is available on the DVD & Blu-Ray-set ‘Cartoon Roots: The Bray Studios Animation Pioneers’

Director: George Dunning
Release Date: 1962
Rating: ★★

The Flying Man © George Dunning‘The Flying Man’ is a very short absurdist film in which a man drops his coat to take a swim in mid air. Another man with a dog drops by, tries the same thing, but with his coat on, to no avail.

Dunning uses a single tableau and no perspective. On his white canvas he paints the three characters (two men and dog) with bold paint strokes. Dunning’s characters consist of loose joints, similar to characters by John Hubley. Unfortunately, this design makes it rather hard to decipher the action, especially when both men are on the ground.

The action is accompanied by short but effective clarinet music by Ron Goodwin.

Watch ‘The Flying Man’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘The Flying Man’ is available on the DVD-box ‘Annecy – Le coffret du 50e Anniversaire’

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: April 25, 1961
Stars: Chilly Willy, Wally Walrus
Rating: ★★

Clash and Carry © Walter Lantz‘Clash and Carry’ pairs Wally Walrus with Chilly Willy. The latter is hungry and tries to steal fish from Wally’s fish market.

To be frank, Wally clearly is no match for Chilly Willy, who easily empties the complete store before Wally’s eyes. The best gag is when Chilly Willy uses cardboard plaques attached to shopping carts to empty Wally’s market. The cardboard women all carry a sign telling Wally to ‘charge it’. Soon, more outlandish cardboard figures follow, like a picture of Napoleon. But Wally only sees his fish selling, and calls all ships out sea to catch more fish. This leads to live action footage of fishing boats, and even a whale hunt.

Unfortunately, neither story man Homer Brightman nor Jack Hannah apparently knew how to work this gag into the finale, and so, the cartoon dies out with the lame sight of Chilly Willy playing a vacuum cleaner like bagpipes, with marching fish behind him, apparently sucked by the vacuum cleaner.

Apart from the utterly disappointing finale, the short is hampered by Wally’s omnipresent vocalizations (by Paul Frees), which only become funny during the great scene mentioned above. Apart from that ‘Clash and Carry’ remains a very mediocre cartoon.

Watch ‘Clash and Carry’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Clash and Carry’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2’

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Airing Date: March 31, 1961
Stars: The Flintstones
Rating: ★★

Rooms for Rent © Hanna-Barbera‘Rooms for Rent’ starts with Fred calculating his and Wilma’s expenses.

Because the couple is overspending, Wilma decides to take in some boarders. Promptly she and Betty (who has the same financial problems) are visited by two music students. Unfortunately, the two jazz cats don’t have any money, so Wilma and Betty let the two youngsters stay for two weeks in exchange of help with their own act they want to perform at the Loyal Order of Dinosaurs. Despite Fred and Barney wanting some boarders, too, these prove two very long weeks for the husbands, as the two students practice their modern jazz at home, and eat the lion’s share of their meals.

‘Rooms for Rent’ is a rather weak entry within the Flintstones series, offering inconsistent designs, mediocre animation and few laughs. The episode also is one of those Flintstones entries showing the inequality of man and woman in the early 1960s: when contemplating how to earn some money, Betty and Wilma never contemplate working themselves, as “the boys won’t let us go out and get a job” (Betty) and “A woman’s place is in the home” (as Wilma quotes Fred). This episode is typical for its many shots of people addressing the camera. Also featured is a prehistoric subway, the working of which is never explained…

Watch the subway scene from ‘Rooms for Rent’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Flintstones Season One Episode 25
To the previous Flintstones episode: In the Dough
To the next Flintstones episode: Fred Flintstone: Before and After

‘Rooms for Rent’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Flintstones: The Complete First Season’

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Airing Date: March 3, 1961
Stars: The Flintstones
Rating: ★★

The Astra' Nuts © Hanna-BarberaWhen Betty gets an address wrong, Fred and Barney line up at the army recruitment office instead of the physical examination for an insurance company.

Before they realize it, the neighbors have joined the army, for three years… Inside the army Fred and Barney volunteer for a space program lead by a German-sounding professor without realizing it. After the professor has conducted some weird experiments on them, Fred and Barney are shot away in a wooden rocket by a giant slingshot, only to land some yards further, in an artillery range, which they think is the moon.

‘The Astra’ Nuts’ has one of the weakest plots of all Flintstones episodes. The whole series of events which lead to the boys joining the army for no less than three years is very unconvincing. One suspects all these plot twists are only introduced to get Fred and Barney inside a rocket.

When the four realize Fred and Barney have enlisted, we get a series of rather poorly drawn double-takes. Much better are the bizarre tests, but the best gag is when we’re set up to expect an enormous band only to see the conductor conduct just one trumpet player. This episode features a sergeant with the same voice as the Snorkasaurus had in ‘The Snorkasaurus Hunter‘.

Watch ‘The Astra’ Nuts’ yourself and tell me what you think:

The Astra’ Nuts

This is Flintstones Season One Episode 22
To the previous Flintstones episode: Love Letters on the Rocks
To the next Flintstones episode: The Long, Long Weekend

‘The Astra’ Nuts’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Flintstones: The Complete First Season’

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Airing Date: February 10, 1961
Stars: The Flintstones
Rating: ★★

The Hypnotist © Hanna-Barbera‘The Hypnotist’ is one of the silliest of the Flintstones episodes. The nonsense starts when Fred brags about being able to hypnotize himself after seeing one Mesmo on the television.

Betty and Wilma play along, but Fred really manages to hypnotize Barney, making him think he’s a dog. Unfortunately, Fred cannot make his friend snap out of it, and seeks the assistance of Mesmo. This leads to several slapstick gags, ending in a dog pound. In the end Mesmo turns Barney into human again, and two dogs, as well…

‘The Hypnotist’ is pretty gag rich, but few of the gags come off, due to poor timing and trite dialogue. Worse, in many scenes Fred’s designs are quite off, and the animation often is subpar. Most interesting may be the cash desk at the supermarket and the crazy veterinarian. This fellow is designed more stylistically than the other characters, recalling classic UPA modernism.

Watch an excerpt from ‘The Hypnotist’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Flintstones Season One Episode 20
To the previous Flintstones episode: The Hot Piano
To the next Flintstones episode: Love Letters on the Rocks

‘The Hypnotist’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Flintstones: The Complete First Season’

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Airing Date: December 23, 1960
Stars: The Flintstones
Rating: ★★

The Drive-in © Hanna-BarberaTired of their jobs, Fred and Barney decide to open their own restaurant. So they quit their jobs to obtain a drive-in so lousy, they can even buy without the necessary cash.

Fred’s and Barney’s only mistake is not telling their wives, but of course, Wilma and Betty soon find out, thus ending the business. The running gag of this episode features two annoying waitresses who sing a particularly irritating drive-in song, which is also featured in the episode’s finale.

‘The Drive-in’ is one of the least inspired of all Flintstones episodes. The all too predictable story moves at a surprisingly slow speed, and even contains a completely superfluous scene with a bird stealing Barney’s flapjacks. The only prehistory gags in this episode are the giant ribs and eggs Barney and Fred serve at the drive in.

The designs of the characters are quite unsteady in this episode, especially Fred’s.

Watch an excerpt from ‘The Drive-in’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Flintstones Season One Episode 13
To the previous Flintstones episode: The Sweepstakes Ticket
To the next Flintstones episode: The Prowler

‘The Drive-in’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Flintstones: The Complete First Season’

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Airing Date: December 9, 1960
Stars: The Flintstones
Rating: ★★

The Golf Champion © Hanna-BarberaThis episode starts with a golf tournament, but turns out to be a story about a feud between Barney and Fred.

Part of the story is told as a flashback: Barney is chosen president of ‘The Loyal Order of Dinosaurs’ (first introduced in ‘Hot Lips Hannigan‘) and promises to collect overdue contributions. Because Fred is one of the late payers, this leads to a heavy and childish feud between the to neighbors, reminiscent of the one in ‘The Swimming Pool‘.

Barney even buys a vicious watchdog, with a laugh that sounds like that of Muttley from Hanna-Barbera’s future series ‘Wacky Races’ (1968). The low point is reached when Fred throws a party with people he doesn’t even like, only to provoke Barney (who turns out not to be home). In the end it’s up to the wives to settle the argument.

‘The Golf Champion’ is one of the duller Flintstones episodes. It contains some repetitive gags of Barney stealing his own stuff back from Fred’s yard. The sound of effect of Barney tiptoeing in these scenes, however, is a delight, as is the surprisingly inspired background music, which e.g. features a military version of the Flintstones theme music. Nevertheless, the opening scenes are arguably the best, with Fred having to deal with no less than two large dinosaurs occupying the golf course.

There are two stone age gags: a bird as a can opener, which informs us that he likes the food at the Rubble’s house better, and a record player, featuring a monkey and a bird.

Watch an excerpt from ‘The Golf Champion’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Flintstones Season One Episode 11
To the previous Flintstones episode: Hollyrock, Here I Come
To the next Flintstones episode: The Sweepstakes Ticket

‘The Golf Champion’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Flintstones: The Complete First Season’

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: March 16, 1957
Stars: Tweety & Sylvester
Rating: ★★
Review:

Tweety and the Beanstalk © Warner Bros.

This short could better have been called ‘Sylvester and the Beanstalk’, because it’s Sylvester who finds himself on top of the beanstalk, and in giantland.

In the giant’s castle Sylvester discovers a giant Tweety, which he tries to catch in four attempts, before the giant chases him down. The cartoon ends rather poorly with the giant falling on the cat, making him fall straight through the earth, and ending in China.

‘Tweety and the Beanstalk’ is essentially a normal Tweety and Sylvester routine, making little use of the size difference (for example, at one point Sylvester uses a saw and a string fit to his own size – how on earth did he find those in giantland?). Freleng’s excellent timing cannot rescue the used and tried spot gags, and the result is a disappointing and forgettable cartoon.

Watch ‘Tweety and the Beanstalk’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Tweety and the Beanstalk’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume Five’

Director: unknown
Production Date: 1960
Stars: Tom Puss and Ollie Bungle
Rating: ★★
Review:

Little Faustus © Toonder StudiosDuring a stormy night Ollie Bungle brags he can teach everyone everything, and in one evening, too.

He’s overheard by a wizard, who immediately places his lazy son under Ollie Bungle’s tutelage. The little brat changes all kinds of objects into beds for him to sleep in, makes a pen write the writing lines he has to do, and makes objects taunting Ollie Bungle. Meanwhile Ollie Bungle doesn’t teach the boy a thing. Yet, the wizard is content, as his son has learned many new tricks during that one evening.

This short is one of the weakest of the eight surviving Tom Puss films. Tom Puss has hardly a role in it, and even behaves uncharacteristically fearful. In one scene he even looks like a real cat, instead of his normal rational self.

‘Little Faustus’ is available on the DVD inside the Dutch book ‘De Toonder Animatiefilms’

Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Release Date: January 21, 1960
Rating: ★★
Review:

Goliath II © Walt Disney‘Goliath II’ is a slow and gentle children’s film, penned by storyman Bill Peet, about a tiny elephant, who is the shame of the herd, until he bravely defeats a cocky mouse, which scares all the others away.

With its fifteen minutes of length, Reitherman’s all too relaxed timing, George Bruns’s uninspired score, and studio favorite Sterling Holloway’s dull narration, ‘Goliath II’ is one of the most boring of the Disney specials. Moreover, there are several instances of reused animation (e.g. the tiger from ‘Tiger Trouble’ (1945), the crocodile from ‘Peter Pan’, and an owl from ‘Bambi‘), giving the film a rather cheap look.

Nevertheless, ‘Goliath II’ is a milestone, as it is the first animated film to exploit the xerox technique on cel animation, an innovation developed by Ub Iwerks in the 1950s. The xerox process meant the characters needn’t be retraced by the ink department, and could keep their vibrant animated lines, giving them a more graphic look. For better or worse, the xerox technique dominated Disney animation up to the late 1980s. By then it had long lost its charm, and was finally discarded (‘The Little Mermaid’ is the first film in the new style).

The xerox technique, combined with Reitherman’s direction, the film’s setting and elephant characters, make ‘Goliath II’ a forerunner of ‘Jungle Book’ (1967). The short even introduces the gag in which the elephants are forced to stop their march, and fall on top of each other.

Despite the new techniques, and fine animation, there’s little to enjoy in ‘Goliath II’, but I would like to single out the extraordinary background paintings by Richard H. Thomas, Gordon Legg and Thelma Witmer, which schematically indicate a jungle without going into too much detail.

Watch ‘Goliath II’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Goliath II’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities’

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: September 26, 1959
Stars: Foghorn Leghorn, Miss Prissy
Rating: ★★
Review:

A Broken Leghorn © Warner Bros.As MGM and Disney more or less had stopped production of animated shorts, by 1959 the Warner Bros. shorts were easily the best looking animated cartoons around: the background art and the animation were both still top notch, and didn’t show any sign of cheapness, present at for example the Paramount and Lantz studios.

Unfortunately, story lines and gags were often another matter. ‘A Broken Leghorn’ is a good example: despite the clear quality of design, animation and background art, the story is a rather tired amalgam of blackout gags in which the Foghorn Leghorn tries to get rid of a young smart-alecky competitor.

His attempts to kill the competition includes making the little fellow cross the road (initiating a revival of Tex Avery’s road gag from ‘Señor Droopy‘), blowing him up with dynamite through a rain pipe, tying corn-to-the-cob to a gun, and attaching a fake worm to a landmine. Needless to say, all these attempts backfire.

The Foghorn Leghorn were always very talkative, and the large amount of dialogue wears down the comedy, hampering the already stale routines.

Watch ‘A Broken Leghorn’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘A Broken Leghorn’ is available on the DVD-box set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection’

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: January 7, 1961
Stars: Speedy Gonzales, Sylvester
Rating: ★★
Review:

Cannery Woe © Warner Bros.‘Cannery Woe’ centers on Manuel and José, two poor mice, who live at the beach and who are starving.

They really would like to join the Grand Cheese Fiesta, organised by the mouse mayor for his re-election, but they are thrown out. Yet, the mayor has more problems: there’s no cheese at the fiesta (‘something new is added to the store’, explains one of the cheese committee mice). Luckily, José is friends with Speedy Gonzales, and only has to whistle to get Speedy’s help.

Speedy fetches the cheese from the store, unhindered by guarding cat Sylvester, who only gets hindered by his own tacks, mousetraps and cannon. In the end, José and Manuel are awarded as cheese inspectors, but Speedy gets even a better job as ‘chick inspector’.

‘Cannery Woe’ is a very mediocre cartoon with rather run of the mill gags. In fact, the mice José and Manuel are more interesting than anything that follows, and one wonders why storyman Tedd Pierce and director Robert McKimson didn’t devote more of the cartoon to them.

Watch ‘Cannery Woe’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Cannery Woe’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume Four’

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: August 29, 1959
Stars: Speedy Gonzales, Sylvester
Rating: ★★
Review:

Here Today, Gone Tamale © Warner Bros.‘Here Today, Gone Tamale’ starts with a cheese famine in a harbor village.

But then a ship called ‘Dutch Treat’ arrives, full of cheese. Unfortunately, the ship is protected by Sylvester, but the starved mice get Speedy Gonzales (he knows one’s sister – let me correct this – he knows everybody’s sister) to get the cheese. In some blackout gags Sylvester does his best to catch Speedy Gonzales, e.g. with a large mallet and a guillotine. In the end, Sylvester has to admit defeat, and adding ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, he puts on some Mickey Mouse-club-like mouse ears and joins some dancing mice.

The best gag is when Speedy Gonzales locks Sylvester inside a storage room full of Limburger cheese, but otherwise there’s not too much to enjoy in ‘Here Today, Gone Tamale’ and one has ample time to enjoy the functional layouts by Hawley Pratt, beautifully painted by Tom O’Loughlin.

Watch the opening of ‘Here Today, Gone Tamale’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Here Today, Gone Tamale’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume Four’

Director: Lucjan Dembiński
Release Date: 1959
Rating: ★★
Review:

Pyza © Studio Filmów Lmów Lalkowych‘Pyza’ is based on children’s books by Polish author Hanna Januszewska (1905-1980).

‘Pyza’ starts with a mother making dumplings for her numerous children. One of the dumplings changes into a girl, who soon goes for a walk. Outside she meets a rabbit, and the two become friends and have some little adventures together.

‘Pyza’ features no dialogue and uses the simplest puppet designs. This children’s film looks attractive, but emotion is more suggested than felt, and the animation is rather lifeless and stiff. Moreover, Dembiński’s timing is pretty relaxed, and the film balances on the verge of boring. In the end, the directionless story and the uninspired animation render a film too poor to enjoy.

Watch ‘Pyza’ yourself and tell me what you think:

 

‘Pyza’ is available on the DVD set ‘Anthology of Polish Children’s Animation’

Director: Seymour Kneitel
Release Date: April 3, 1959
Stars: Herman & Katnip
Rating: ★★
Review:

Fun on Furlough © ParamountWith ‘Fun on Furlough’ Herman and Katnip return to the department store scenery of ‘From Mad to Worse‘ (1957).

This time Herman’s cousins are having fun at the toy department until Katnip almost catches them. Then Herman enters, who inexplicably has a three days leave from the army. He reveals that Katnip once had been in the army, too. What follows is a chase sequence with an army theme, using toy soldiers, a toy tank, a toy plane etc. The idea already is preposterous, and the follow-up is hampered by trite and formulaic gags.

Watch ‘Fun on Furlough’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Fun on Furlough’ is available on the DVD ‘Herman and Katnip – The Complete Series’

Director: Seymour Kneitel
Release Date: February 20, 1959
Stars: Herman & Katnip
Rating: ★★
Review:

Felineous Assault © Paramount‘Felineous Assault’ is Famous studio’s variation on Tom & Jerry’s ‘Professor Tom‘ (1948): Katnip teaches his nephew Kitnap how to catch mice.

When Kitnap passes the test with a fake mouse, Katnip orders the little one to catch Herman. But inside the mouse hole Kitnap gets stuck and Herman rescues him. What follows is one long chase sequence in which Katnip tries to catch Herman, while Kitnap makes him fail.

Herman is pretty helpless in this cartoon, which is hampered by angular designs (especially on Katnip), and by stiff and schematic animation. In fact, the little kitten looks and moves better than either Herman or Katnip.

Watch ‘Felineous Assault’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Felineous Assault’ is available on the DVD ‘Herman and Katnip – The Complete Series’

Director: Robert McKimson
Release Date: November 16, 1957
Stars: Sylvester, Sylvester jr., Hippety Hopper
Rating: ★★
Review:

Mouse-Taken Identity © Warner Bros.‘Mouse-Taken Identity’ is the eleventh cartoon featuring Hippety Hopper and by now the routine is so stale, only the setting can provide some variation.

Thus this episode takes place in a museum, which Hippety Hopper enters directly from the zoo where he’s dropped. That night Sylvester brings his son with him on his night job as a mouse catcher at the museum. Sylvester brags about his mice catching abilities. But this works against him when junior encounters a real one, way too feeble compared with the ferocious monsters his father said to battle. So Sylvester lies to his son, stating that mice come in all sizes, taking a stuffed kangaroo as an example. Unfortunately, Hippety Hopper has been hiding inside the kangaroo’s pouch, and when Sylvester approaches the stuffed animal, he gets his first kick.

What follows is a tiresome routine, with way too much dialogue and uninspired gags, a few involving the museum itself (a Neanderthal diorama, a crossbow). Nothing of this is remotely interesting. In fact, the cartoon’s highlight are the evocative background paintings.

Watch ‘Mouse-Taken Identity’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Mouse-Taken Identity’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Sylvester & Hippety Hopper’ and on the Blu-Ray-set ‘Looney Tunes Mouse Chronicles: The Chuck Jones Collection’

Director: Władysław Starewicz
Release Date: 1958
Stars: Patapouf
Rating: ★★
Review:

Winter Carousel © Ladislaw StarewiczWładysław Starewicz was a stop motion pioneer, who had made some very important films in the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s. ‘Winter Carousel’ was the last film he completed, and the short’s style is practically the same as that of his films of forty years earlier: the film is essentially silent, and populated by various animals, whose rather gritty look is typical for the Polish-Russian filmmaker.

‘Winter Carousel’ stars brown bear Patapouf and his rather mischievous friend Rabbit, who had been introduced in Starewicz previous film, ‘Nez au Vent’ (Nose in the Wind, 1956). In ‘Winter Carousel’ the duo encounters a jolly snowman, who apparently is father Winter, and a female polar bear. Both Patapouf and Rabbit are clearly interested in the female creature, and the three go skating together, playing blind man’s buff, and riding a Christmas tree carousel. This part of the film is a delightful sequence: Starewicz’s arctic backgrounds are pretty evoking, there’s a unique sense of poetry in the images, and his suggestion of speed during the skating and carousel scenes is impressive.

But then suddenly Father Winter starts to melt and reveals a female wooden creature (clearly a goddess of spring) underneath. Thus, strangely, the last five minutes of the film take place in spring. Unfortunately, from that moment all suggestions of narrative are thrown out of the window, and things just happen on the screen. We watch Patapouf en Rabbit gamble with some dice, watching a performance by a grasshopper and drinking in a long, plotless and completely superfluous kind of epilogue. None of theses spring images matches the winter scenes, and in the end the film is too uneven and too rambling to be a lasting work.

The animation is at times quite good, especially in Rabbit’s and Patapouf’s little gestures, but the complete result is unfortunately rather boring. In fact, this product, already old-fashioned and hopelessly dated by its release, is a rather sad ending to Starewicz’s great career. With this film he only managed to proof that he was a relic from another era.

Watch ‘Winter Carousel’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Winter Carousel’ is available on the DVD ‘The Cameraman’s Revenge & other Fantastic Tales’

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