Archive for the Comics Category

On Sale Now

Posted in FILM, Comics with tags , , , on May 18, 2016 by dcairns

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Tickets are now on sale for POW!!! — the retrospective of comic-book-inspired movies programmed by Niall Greig Fulton and yours truly. I’m also starting to put together materials for Origin Story, the lecture/event/show we’re doing charting the whole history of live action comic book adaptation in the cinema. It’s long/richer/stranger than I thought — I didn’t realize until yesterday that the first screen drama, as well as the first screen comedy (same film), is a comic adaptation…

HIGHLANDER. screening as an anniversary event, sold out in a day, so you might want to move faster than a speeding bullet.

The Sunday Intertitle: Curses!

Posted in Comics, FILM with tags , , , , , , on May 8, 2016 by dcairns

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Thanks to Donald Benson for the heads-up re Hairbreadth Harry‘s movie adaptations. I managed to locate one, DANGER AHEAD.

Don B. nailed it — the thing isn’t exactly hilarious but it’s sort of zesty and unusual. Director Scott Pembroke specialised in broad parody, helming some of Stan Laurel’s early adventures, such as DR. PICKLE AND MR. PRYDE, whose title tells you all you really need to know about both the subject and the level of wit involved.

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Interesting that the tied-to-the-railway-tracks trope and moustache-twirling villain, long associated in the popular imagination with early silents, were never more than pastiche elements spoofing stage melodrama. TEDDY AT THE THROTTLE also makes this clear.

Twenty-year-old Earl McCarthy makes an ideal Harry, throwing himself into genuinely dangerous business with locomotives and moveable bridges, as do the rest of the cast. It wasn’t the stunts that got Earl — he died of a heart attack at twenty-six.

Still, DANGER AHEAD lacks the lunatic invention of its strip cartoon source material, which is a shame. Since the early days, comic adaptations have tended to leave out the crazier elements which make their inspiration memorable, while usually failing to provide the greater depth of character which live actors can provide.

DANGER AHEAD’s intertitles keep up the parodic pace, with nearly every one of them a mockery of heroic hokum and laden with puns and nonsense. But nothing has the slangy wit of Relentless Rudolph’s dialogue in the newspaper strip, where he tosses off caddish remarks such as “I must throw the glooms into this shindig!” and the incorrigible Phil Lander declares “Ah sweetums! Effulgent as the roseate morn! Those eyes! Those nose! Them lips!”

 

Hairbreadth Harry

Posted in Comics, FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2016 by dcairns

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Click to enlarge — it’s worth it!

I’ve been greatly enjoying Dan Nadel’s Art Out of Time, Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900-1969, a stupendous compilation of funnybook esoterica. Above we see an adventure of Hairbreadth Harry, a twenties newspaper strip. It’s nice to see that Winsor McCay’s GERTIE THE DINOSAUR was still remembered in 1924 (the nightmarishly expanding creature also recalls McCay’s Rarebit Fiend short THE PET). According to Rudi Blesh’s Buster Keaton biography, Gertie inspired the dinosaur scene in THE THREE AGES, with Keaton reasoning that animation and live-action could be combined in a way inspired by McCay’s short.

This got me thinking about that dinosaur again — I’ve often wondered who made it. A Google search brought me a sample of Mark F. Berry’s indispensible-sounding The Dinosaur Filmography, published the same year as Nadel’s book, in which Lou Bunin (he of the peculiar ALICE IN WONDERLAND) named the great Charley Bowers as the artist responsible. This would make a lot of sense — Willis H. O’Brien is the only other Hollywood stop-motion man I can think of from this period, but if it was him we would know, wouldn’t we? — and would be Big News — a Bowers-Keaton collaboration! I hope it’s true, but we may never know.

Here’s another bit of Maurice Ketten’s strip with another movie reference ~

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