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Director: Émile Cohl
Release Date: 1909
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Les chaussures matrimoniales © Émile Cohl‘Les chaussures matrimoniales’ is a gentle trick film, showcasing Émile Cohl’s narrative skills.

The film starts with a woman and a man taking adjacent rooms at a hotel. When they both put their shoes outside to let them brush, the man’s shoes start to make advances on the woman’s shoes. When the woman takes them back inside, the man’s shoes even follow them inside. As a consequence the man loses his shoes, but he finds them inside the woman’s room, where he starts making advances on the woman himself. In the end, the new couple leaves the hotel happily together.

Most of the film is done in live action, but the wandering shoes are done in pretty convincing stop motion. When the male shoes start advancing on the woman’s shoes, Cohl even manages to give the objects some character. It’s touches like this that make the film a little more interesting than the usual trick films of the era.

Watch ‘Les chaussures matrimoniales’ yourself and tell me what you think:

 

‘Les chaussures matrimoniales’ is available on the DVDs ‘Émile Cohl – L’agitateur aux mille images’

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Director: Émile Cohl
Release Date: October 8, 1908
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

L'Hôtel du silence © Émile Cohl‘L’hôtel du silence’ is Émile Cohl’s answer to J. Stuart Blackton’s influential ‘The Haunted Hotel’ from 1907. Unlike Blackton, Cohl doesn’t employ stop motion in his film, however, making ‘L’hôtel du silence’ an addition to the trick film tradition, not an entry in the animation canon.

The film features a man visiting a hotel without any personnel. The man’s stay at the hotel is far from pleasant, however: his dinner disappears into the floor, his bed throws him on the floor when the alarm clock rings, and a shower soaks him completely. In the end, he’s confronted by an enormous bill. The man tries to sneak away without paying, but he is held inside the lobby by the desk. Even the door refuses to let him go out before he has paid some tips. This last gag is arguably the best of the whole film.

The unknown actor who plays the hapless visitor clearly is a professional clown: he acts out his emotions to the audience with broad gestures, and he’s clearly used to slapstick comedy, making him a forerunner of the American slapstick tradition. The camera remains static, with all the actions taking place in two tableaux: the lobby and the bedroom. Cohl uses a lot of contraptions and quite some trick photography, but no animation to tell his story, which is quite static, but pretty amusing for a film of the 1900s.

Watch ‘L’hôtel du silence’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘L’hôtel du silence’ is available on the DVDs ‘Émile Cohl – L’agitateur aux mille images’

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 June 2, 1951
Stars:
 Tweety & Sylvester, Granny
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Room and Bird © Warner BrothersGranny sneaks Tweety into a hotel where no pets are allowed.

Another old lady sneaks Sylvester in, who inhabits the room next to Tweety. Like in ‘All a bir-r-r-d‘ Sylvester encounters a vicious bulldog, too. The cartoon contains a classic corridor-with-doors-gag, but the cartoon’s greatest joy is its great twist on the chase routine, provided by a pet inspector who at times interrupts the chase of the three animals.

‘Room and bird’ is the first of four 1951 Warner Brothers cartoons featuring music by Eugene Poddany instead of Carl Stalling.

Watch ‘Room and Bird’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 October 7, 1950
Stars:
 Tweety & Sylvester, Granny
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Canary Row © Warner Brothers‘Canary Row’ has absolutely nothing to do with John Steinbeck’s novel ‘Cannery Row’.

Instead, it is the sixth Tweety and Sylvester cartoon, and the first to feature Granny as Tweety’s owner. In this short Sylvester tries to capture Tweety, who lives in on a top floor in a hotel in which no cats are allowed. But Tweety and his owner Granny give Sylvester a hard time.

The takes on Sylvester are superb: he’s well animated and his gags are excellently timed, showing Freleng’s craftsmanship. However, Tweety and Granny are hardly as funny, and their appearances wear the comedy down.

If not necessarily for its comedy,’Canary Row’ is noteworthy for its beautiful urban backgrounds, painted by Paul Julian, who would soon join UPA to elevate his background art to even greater heights.

Watch ‘Canary Row’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Canary Row’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

Director: Jack King
Release Date:
December 18, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck, Pete
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Bellboy Donald © Walt DisneyDonald is a bellboy at a chic hotel. He’s hindered in doing his job by Pete’s mischievous son (yes, Pete has got a son in this cartoon).

Pete manages to stay calm, but not Donald. In the end, Donald is fired, but he gets his chance to spank the wicked brat.

‘Bellboy Donald’, penned by Duckmen Carl Barks and Jack Hannah, is one of the better Donald Duck cartoon of the early forties. You won’t find any better interplay between Donald and Pete, with the exception maybe of ‘Trombone Trouble’ (1944).

Moreover, the cartoon contains some remarkably flexible animation of  a type rarely seen in a Disney cartoon.

Watch ‘Bellboy Donald’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 37
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Sky Trooper
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Der Fuehrer’s Face

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