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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Free With Your Bell and Howell Purchase


Playful Pluto (1934) As Companion To Home Movies

This Disney cartoon attained household immortality for coming free with my father's late-40's purchase of a Bell and Howell 8mm projector. Beyond home movies, it was all we had to watch until first Castle reels I purchased in 1964. Sampler footage amounted not to the entire short, but a half-in highlight of Pluto coping with errant flypaper, a segment committed to child's memory that I was happy to relive after reading in Michael Barrier's Hollywood Cartoons that it was a big advance on characterization in WD's output. The difference, it seems, was Pluto's facial response to sticky menace the fly sheets pose, his expression changed from frustration to reassurance and back again. A deft animator named Norman Ferguson was responsible for the leap, and so made a specialty of Pluto from here. Disney progress was such that no one could touch him through a 30's rise, part of that due to Walt's continual upgrades on technique and training he oversaw/arranged. Pluto was the first cartoon dog to traffic in complexity, being a drawn successor to Rin-Tin-Tin, Strongheart, and others, only minus their innate heroism.

1 Comments:

Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer remembers the bonus that came with his 8mm projector:


When I was very young, Santa Claus brought me an Argus 8 mm projector and a Heckle and Jeckle short from Castle Films. I don't know whether the film came free with the projector, but I rather doubt it. That was probably the creative choice of Santa's helper, my dear mother. Heckle and Jeckle, of course, were Paul Terry's "Talking Magpies." Though birds, they would occasionally display teeth. I understand that Jeckle had a refined English accent and Heckle a coarse, Brooklyn accent, but were identical in appearance. Since the film was silent, as was my projector--that is, it did not reproduce sound, though it made quite a lot of its own--the distinction was lost on me. Even so, I found the magpie mayhem somewhat amusing at the time.

Daniel

12:48 PM  

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