Summary: Winsor McCay, cartoonist and director of this 1-reel (20-minute) 1914 film, piles out of a car with cartoonist George McManus and humorist Roy McCardell in front of a natural history museum, where a 70'-x-20' "dinosaurus" skeleton is on display. McCay bets a dinner he can make a dinosaur live again by a "series of hand-drawn cartoons." Six months pass, during which time 10,000 cartoon drawings have been drawn and photographed. Some comic business involving colossal piles of papers is followed by the long-awaited dinner. McCay reveals a hand-drawn landscape on a large screen.

Gertie, a brontosaur, emerges from a cave, eats a rock and a tree, and bows to the audience. McCay requests that she raise her right foot. She does, looks at a sea serpent, is supposed to raise her left foot, is called a "bad girl," eats a pumpkin, finally raises the left foot, and eats a stump. Jumbo, a relatively small elephant meanders by; Gertie flings him into the lake, gets sprayed when he returns with a trunk full of water, and rests on her side. A four-winged lizard passes overhead. Gertie drinks the lake. McCay appears in cartoon form on the screen and rides her back into the distance. The real McCay wins his bet.

History: Gertie was supposedly the most popular cartoon character of this early era. It seems that at the time, McCay (or another "ringmaster") would actually accompany vaudeville theater showings of his cartoon and walk behind the screen at the right time so as to appear in cartoon form on the screen. Throwing fruit to Gertie would involve a similar trick. In 1915, Bray Studios plagiarized this film, calling it Gertie.



Summary: Only a few moments of footage survive of Winsor McCay's 1917 sequel to Gertie the Dinosaur. (John McCay and John Fitzsimmons are also listed as animators, and the animation is more detailed than the line figures in the previous film. A 1921 date appears with the Rialto studio fragment.) When we cut in, we are told that in Gertie's day, toads were ten feet tall, so a modern small one disturbs her. After she plays with a train (much more gently than Kong will), Gertie rests. "As she sleeps she dreams of other days when she was the life of the party." She dances among a crowd of brontosaurs.

Commentary: It is worth noting that despite filmdom's inclinations as regards dino-pix, these early pieces offer us a personable and relatively mild dinosaur with a "pet" name. Leonard Maltin asserts that "McCay's efforts during the first ten years of this century are widely considered to be the pinnacle of American comic art. McCay combined the abilities of a superb draftsman with the imagination of a master storyteller." Both Gertie films involve performance in front of an adoring crowd, and one wonders about the nostalgic tone in the fragment of the sequel: an autobiographical impulse on McCay's part?