Amadee J. Van Beuren

The Iron Man (1931, Harry Bailey and John Foster)

The Iron Man‘s protagonist is not the Iron Man itself (himself?), which shows up after the halfway point. The protagonist is a cantankerous old man with some magic powers. He lives amongst all the adorable cartoon animals who sing and dance happily and he does what he can to ruin their days.

He’s a bad guy. He also doesn’t show up for the first two minutes, which seems long in a seven minute cartoon, but the unlikable aspect is more interesting. He’s not a lovable jerk, he’s not even funny. He probably would kick a kitten.

The cartoon is beautifully animated. Even in black and white, the backgrounds are lush with feeling. Not a lot of detail, but directors Bailey and Foster know what’s important to include.

It could go on longer. The final gag is way too brief.

Man‘s oddly thought provoking, especially how it handles narrative structure.



Directed by Harry Bailey and John Foster; produced by Paul Terry and Amadee J. Van Beuren; released by RKO-Pathé Distributing Corp.

Snow Time (1930, Mannie Davis and John Foster)

Snow Time is another strange cartoon from Foster. It’s wintertime in cute cartoon animal land and everyone’s having a swell time skiing, synchronized skating and so on.

Until this cat’s tail gets cut off because he’s messing around in a ski lane. But Foster and co-director Davis don’t follow his story. Presumably he’s just done… Snow Time skips between all the cute little animals until the finish. About a minute after the cartoon needs a narrative, it gets one.

The cat who’s been off screen for most of the cartoon–apparently walking around the frozen wilderness (he loses his tail at some point)–is dying. A crazy doctor can’t save him, but maybe some whiskey can.

I’m not sure the actual moral of the cartoon is anything like what the filmmakers intended.

There’s a lot more craziness I forgot (an assault, a living hot dog).

Snow Time‘s really strange.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Mannie Davis and John Foster; produced by Paul Terry and Amadee J. Van Beuren; released by Pathé Exchange.

Wood Choppers (1929, Paul Terry)

Wood Choppers is not a good cartoon. The animation is weak and director Terry’s approach to the cartoon’s reality is anything goes. Dogs resurrect themselves after being turned into sausages and mice are able to reattach their heads and morph their tails into anything they can imagine.

It’s exceptionally lazy.

But there’s something amazing about it–just how little Terry cares for making any sense. He spends about half the cartoon setting up the elaborate setting. Cats, mice and dogs live in this town where the industry is logging and the mice play on the logs. It has nothing to do with the action of the cartoon, which is a cat chasing a mouse.

The logging does come back at the end, after the cat’s disappeared, and the whole cartoon’s now a romance between mice.

Wood Choppers is gloriously nonsensical. Sadly, the animation’s not good enough to make it worthwhile.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Paul Terry; produced by Terry and Amadee J. Van Beuren; released by Pathé Exchange.

A Close Call (1929, Harry Bailey and John Foster)

A Close Call is a very strange little cartoon.

First, it’s an early talkie, so everyone’s very excited about synchronized sound. So much so, in fact, a church choir breaks out into “You’re In The Army Now.” It’s a very odd song choice.

But not as odd as the rest of Call.

The cartoon concerns two mice in love. The boy gets into some trouble when he pulls off his sweetie’s skirt to use it as an accordion. In nothing but her bloomers, she’s not happy with him and neither notice the big evil cat arrive and kidnap her.

Now, the cat’s not trying to eat her. Oh, no, not at all. He’s an amorous vicious psychopath. While making goo goo eyes at the girl mouse, he’s trying to torture the male one.

The drawing is often rough and the animation’s bad, but the strangeness makes the cartoon undeniably compelling.



Directed by Harry Bailey and John Foster; produced by Paul Terry and Amadee J. Van Beuren; released by Pathé.

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