Notes: Willis O'Brien, former newspaper cartoonist, was a stop-motion animation pioneer at Conquest Pictures (the name used by Thomas A. Edison Studio for Obi's releases) before creating the special effects for The Lost World (1925), King Kong (1933), and other pictures. This short claymation film reportedly involves cavemen and a brontosaur.
In this short Willis O'Brien claymation film, a woman hangs
laundry out to dry, but a goat steals the clothes. Morpheus Mike,
a hobo, rescues the laundry, returns it, and awaits some food
as his reward, which the goat secretly and this time successfully
steals. Mike smokes his pipe and has a dream of being in a restaurant
during prehistoric days. Choosing from a hieroglyphic menu, Mike
is served by a mastodon, not very successfully. His large ostrich
egg hatches at the table, and his "trunk of soup" is
squirted on him. He awakens during the soup deluge to find a
bucket of water being dumped on him from an overhead window.
The clayey Miss Araminta Rockface inspires devotion from "the
Duke" and Stonejaw Steve, who vie for her affections. Theophilus
Ivoryhead is our trickster antihero, and Wild Willie--the "missing
link"--is a local terror who appears first in a dead tree
looking like a sociopathological and anorexic Kong. When he steals
food from the gathering of humanoids, the three males must go
hunt down more to salvage what will be an entirely carnivorous
banquet. One fellow shoots an arrow at a giant quail but hits
another fellow in the butt. While Theophilus Ivoryhead fishes,
Wild Willie decides to catch snakes for his dinner. He pulls
on the serpentine tail of a dinosaur who is drinking from the
lake and in the ensuing fight is thrown and dies. Theophilus
happens on the scene, pokes at the mssing link's corpse, and feels
secure enough to pose nobly with his foot on the deceased's chest
(a pre-Kong glimmer from O'Brien). The others witness this tableau
and Ivoryhead pontificates: "Yes yes--a mere trifle. He
irritated me and I was forced to kill him." Kisses and praise
end the scene.
test footage by Willis O'Brien was expanded into this short claymation
film. The pose of Theophilus with his foot on Willie's chest
is called a "gesture of triumph that would become an O'Brien
Clay beauty Winnie Warclub makes a pie. The mailman comes by
(he appears to be Morpheus Mike but goes unnamed), his wagon pulled
by a dinosaur, and is punched. Johnny Bearskin, Winnie's suitor,
carves her a valentine in stone: "I know you and you know
me / Howd you like my wife to be." The mailman reads this
and exchanges it for a goofy caricature and the words "old
maid." When Bearskin comes calling, he gets conked. The
mail wagon tips, Johnny B. catches up to Mike, and a fight breaks
out. The top half of Mike's body is punched off and flies through
the air, landing in the branches of a tree. The bottom half wanders
until reuniting with the torso. Johnny Bearskin wins Winnie and,
with the wagon and dino, has a new job as mailman.
Note: O'Brien's installation of air bladders made it appear as if the creatures were breathing. But the humanoid characters are perhaps too real in ugly hairy ways, so that the severed body is more gruesome than it is a hoot.
In this 1-reeler released by World Film Corporation (a ten-minute
film that took three months to shoot), Willis O'Brien himself, though
he refused ever to confirm this, seems to be playing the main role in
the story of a mountain climber, Uncle Jack, who tells his nephews that,
in a forest cabin once, he discovered an odd optical device. The ghost
of a hermit demonstrated to him the invention, a magical telescope,
through which one can view Slumber Mountain as it appeared millions of
years ago. We see a prehistoric landscape with several dinosaurs: first
a brontosaur grazing, then a flightless bird devouring a snake, two
triceratopses fighting, an impressive allosaur attacking. The ghost
vanishes, and the allosaur attacks Jack. Jack fires at the dinosaur,
but the creature chases him and is about to devour him when the
flashback ends. The nephews realize he's full of it and beat him.
The original $3000 investment yielded $100,000 in profits. This O'Brien
film sparked the interest of Watterson R. Rothacker, Billboard's West
Coast manager and founder of the Industrial Motion Picture Company which
developed special effects techniques. Rothacker and O'Brien joined forces
to create the "monsters" for The Lost World after Rothacker
obtained the rights.
The original $3000 investment yielded $100,000 in profits. This O'Brien film sparked the interest of Watterson R. Rothacker, Billboard's West Coast manager and founder of the Industrial Motion Picture Company which developed special effects techniques. Rothacker and O'Brien joined forces to create the "monsters" for The Lost World after Rothacker obtained the rights.