Dancing on the Moon (film #8 on Cartoon Crazys: Sci-Fi (WinStar Home Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Hollywood]

This Dave Fleischer cartoon is beautifully animated and has an interesting premise: animal honeymoon couples are taken on a rocketship to the moon so they can dance and spoon. Unfortunately, a cat couple is late and the tomcat just barely makes it through the door, while his tabby bride gets left behind. He has a lonely, miserable time on the moon playing solitaire and making cat's cradles while the other couples neck (the giraffes taking this concept to new, uh, heights). The real attraction of this cartoon is its pseudo-3D animation, combining flat characters with modeled backgrounds. The scenes in outer space are particularly stunning. This deserves to be thrown in as the cartoon at any film festival with the subject of voyages to the moon.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

Billie the Buffalo Baby (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #219 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]

This confusing film has some campy moments. It starts with scenes of Billie, a newborn buffalo calf. The narrator tries hard to get the kids in the audience to bond with Billie, his mother Polly, and his best friend April (I don’t know about you, but “April” just seems like the wrong name for a buffalo). Then it suddenly switches gears and tries to scare the kids by telling them how dangerous buffaloes are, showing a horse with a bloody injury from being gored by a buffalo, and sternly stating, “Buffalos are not tame and should not be kept as pets!” with the intent, I guess, of discouraging the kiddies from bringing into the house any stray buffalos that follow them home from school. Then it switches gears again, and we get to see an Indian explaining in sign language the role of the buffalo in Indian culture (you know, that generic, non-tribal Indian culture that sells so well in souvenir shops). Then it ends very abruptly. I won’t give away the name of the veterinarian who treats the horse that got gored, except to say that it probably gave the boys in the elementary school audiences this was aimed at a good snicker (adults like you and I, of course, are too mature for such lowbrow humor).

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

Caught in a Cabaret (film #1 on The Chaplin Collection DVD (Madacy Entertainment, 2002) ("Charlot, Garcon de Theatre"). Also, film #3 on Charlie Chaplin Festival (Diamond Entertainment, 1991). Also, film #29 in the Silent section of Movieflix.) [Category: Early Film & TV]

The Little Tramp is a waiter in a cheap tavern, lorded over by a loud dictatorial boss. On his few brief breaks from work, Charlie passes himself off as the Greek Ambassador in order to court a pretty heiress. Unfortunately, the heiress discovers the truth when she and her rich friends go slumming and happen to stumble upon Charlie's workplace. This is not one of Chaplin's better efforts. There's lots of slapstick, but not a lot of laughs. And this kind of plot we've seen many times before. I do want a copy of his "Greek Ambassador" calling card for the Film Ephemera Museum, though. A 1914 Keystone film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.

Better Reading

Better Reading . Teenager Harold Wilson has a problem—he can’t read for (expletive deleted). So he has to spend all his free time studying ...