Mar 15, 2017

Cartoons, Carnivals and the Cinematic Experience

On February 25th, I attended a screening of The Tommy Stathes Cartoon Carnival. The program was a wonderfully, curated event of “Fairytales and Fables”. The screening was held at Shoestring Press and the room was packed with people lining the walls to spend the evening watching cartoons on film. Stathes created one of the most authentic cinema experiences I have ever been part of. With no projection booth to encase the 16mm projector and all the sounds that ensue when aging prints become the subject of its manipulation, the audience was given an experience reminiscent of the early days of cinema, when films were indeed shown at carnivals. 

Tommy Stathes at the projector.
Once the evening began, the light leaking from the projector lit the room in the most romantic fashion.  The highlights of the evening included Snow White, a 1933 Fleischer Studios film, that starred Betty Boop and Cab Calloway in the form of a clown. Second, listed in the program as a “super surprise cartoon short”, Marv Newland’s 1969 short film, Bambi Meets Godzilla. The audience went wild for both of those cartoons. My personal favorite from that evening was a 1935 George Pal cartoon, The Sleeping Beauty.  This was a sponsored film for Philips.  Sleeping Beauty is held up in a castle and over the centuries various chivalrous men attempt to rescue her but are unable to break through the dense system of vines that encapsulate the castle. It turns out that the only way to wake her up was by playing music from the latest model of Philips radio. The brilliance and visual depth of this cartoon will stick with me for a while.

Cover of the evening's program.
I would highly recommend going to any and every Cartoon Carnival that is hosted by Tommy Stathes.  By attending, you get two things, a hilarity filled evening and equally as important, a genuine cinematic experience. I urge you to attend and support Stathes and all the great work he is doing by keeping film exhibition alive and well in the New York area. Please visit the links below:

and the trailer for Tommy’s Cartoon Carnival:

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