Thursday, January 7, 2016

Including a short I'd never heard of

Unfortunately, by the time most of you read this, the short will probably have aired already, but at about 10:48 AM this morning, TCM is running one called High Spots of the Far East. This one is a travelogue, but done a couple of years before James A. FitzPatrick would get into the game with those Traveltalks shorts I love to blog about. The bad news is that, being a couple of years before Fitzpatrick, there was no three-strip Technicolor available, so we apparently get a bunch of images of East Asia and the Near East in black na dwhite. I haven't seen the short, and before seeing it come up on the schedule, I had never even heard of it or knew of the series, which is supposedly part of a brief "World Adventures" series put out by Vitaphone/Warner Bros. back in 1933. Apparently, they also released Wonder Spots of the World, Strange Ceremonies of the World, and Costumes of the World the same year.

Another short I don't think I'd heard of before I saw it on today's schedule, is Fortune Seekers, a little after 7:45 PM. This time, however, I recognize the series. I saw that the 1956 date was too recent to be a Pete Smith short with Dave O'Brien, and upon looking this one up, saw that it's an RKO Screenliner, this time a one-reeler. This particular short apparently takes a brief look at inventions and the attempt to make one's invention profitable. As you've probably seen from old-timey stock footage, there were quite a few daft inventions back in the day. I've always found the RKO Screenliners to be interesting time capsules, but sertainly not particularly well made.

Finally, and this has nothing to do with the shorts, I see that before all of the movies for Elvis Presley's birthday tomorrow, TCM is running the silent Sadie Thompson at 6:30 AM Friday. I briefly mentioned this one once, back in November 2014 when TCM looked at silent stars. Gloria Swanson plays the title role in a movie which was probably more famously remade a few years later as Rain, which had Joan Crawford as the prostitute who has escaped the US and is one her way through the South Pacific to get to Australia; it's there that she meets some Marines and a preacher who wants to reform her. The movie would be remade again as Miss Sadie Thompson, but perhaps most interesting as the all-black race film Dirty Gertie from Harlem, USA. Gertie unfortunately doesn't get to be that dirty, and thanks to blacks having even more reverence for the pulpit than whites did back then, the ending gets changed to something unsatisfying but interesting for being different.

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