Friday, June 24, 2011

Felix the Cat in Hollywood - 1923

American movie. Felix the Cat was the first animated superstar, and these early shorts reveal the source of the character's phenomenal popularity. Animator Otto Messmer created Felix for "Feline Follies," a one-shot cartoon designed to fill a gap in an installment of the Paramount Screen Magazine. Messmer had learned how to use mime and expressions by studying the films of Charlie Chaplin, and even in his relatively crude debut film, Felix seems alive.
Felix decides to make his way to Hollywood, but has no money. The owner of a failing shoe store promises Felix $500 if he can help bring in new business, which Felix ingeniously manages to do, but the owner stiffs him out of the money. Felix finds a way to get to Hollywood, anyway, and while there meets up with the famous stars of the day, like Charlie Chaplin and Ben Turpin.
Otto Messmer and Pat Sullivan's Felix the Cat was the first widely popular cartoon character in film history. In this one, there's a gag involving gum and shoes at the beginning, and Felix transforms himself into the likeness of handbag to travel to Hollywood, which is rather representative of the fantastic nature of the Felix cartoons. In Hollywood, Felix meets his peers, including Charlie Chaplin, who some say is the basis for much of Felix, and who Messmer caricaturized in another animation series. Felix also meets caricatures of Ben Turpin, William S. Hart, Douglas Fairbanks, Cecil B. DeMille and President of the Motion Picture Association of America, Will Hays, who others say was the basis for the next big cartoon star, Mickey Mouse. 'Felix in Hollywood' is one of the earliest screen efforts at caricaturizing live-action movie stars, something Looney Tunes are now famous for. Additionally, as Disney would similarly capitalize on later creations, the image of Felix was marketed extensively, appearing on merchandise and in newspaper comic strips.

No comments:

Post a Comment