Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Early Color Shorts

TCM has a couple of shorts on today's lineup that ar OK, but more interesting for the fact that they're among the earliest live-action shorts in the three-strip Technicolor process.

The first of them is La Cucaracha at about 7:35 PM, just after That Hamilton Woman. You probably recognize the title as that of a Mexican-sounding children's song, and in fact the song features prominently in the short. The plot, which is a bit wanting, involves a female singer and her male dancer partner in a Mexican club who are visited by a producer from the big time who is looking to sign the dancer, and only the dancer, to a bigger gig. The singer obviously is afraid of losing her partner, so she tries to sabotage things. You can probably guess what happens next. The print I remember seeing on TCM some years back wasn't quite as good as prints of some other early three-strip shorts. The short has been included as an extra on an out-of-print DVD of the Wheeler and Woolsey movie Dixiana. It also appears to be on Youtube.

The second short is La Fiesta de Santa Barbara, at 5:35 AM after The Private Life of Henry VIII. This one has even less of a plot; it's a bunch of Hollywood players -- some stars and some not-yet-stars -- celebrating a fiesta in Santa Barbara with a bunch of novelty performance. Andy Devine is part of a bullfighting bit with, I believe, Buster Keaton; Warner Baxter, Robert Taylor, and Gary Cooper show up in the audience. Ida Lupino wasn't a star yet, but she shows up as a cowgirl. Really. The short is probably best known for Judy Garland and her sisters singing "La Cucaracha". Multiple people have posted this one to Youtube. There's a version split into two parts, and one that seems to be in its entirety, although a caveat is that I didn't watch the Youtube videos at any of the links.

No comments: