Tag Archives: animals

The Boxing Cats (Prof. Welton’s) (1894)

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Institution: Library of Congress
Collection: Inventing Entertainment: The Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies

Other title: Boxing cats
Running time: 00m 22s
Source film: 35mm; b&w; silent
Year: 1894
Director: William K.L. Dickson
Cast: Henry Welton
Production: Thomas A. Edison; Edison Manufacturing Co., Black Maria Studio
Photography/Camera: William Heise


As far as inventor loyalties go, I’ve always considered myself part of Team Tesla rather than Camp Alva Edison, but one can’t argue the progress made at Edison’s Black Maria Studio in the early days of the moving image. (Ignore the fact that the earliest motion picture camera was likely engineered not by Edison, but by his employee, William K.L. Dickson; while you’re at it, strike Eadweard Muybridge from your memory too). In just a year’s time after the studio’s construction in West Orange, New Jersey, Edison and his cohorts were pumping out films of dancers, sneezes, and even cockfights, all of which clocked in at well under 60 seconds. Among these early films was 1894’s The Boxing Cats (Prof. Welton’s) — known more simply as Boxing Cats — which modern media outlets have come to recognize as “The Film Demonstrating That Our Freakish Obsession with Cat Videos Transcends Time and Space.”

Continue reading The Boxing Cats (Prof. Welton’s) (1894)

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It’s a Cat’s Life (1957)

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Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Prelinger Archives

Running time: 10m 57s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: ca. 1957
Director: Emily Benton Frith
Production: Frith Films; Cinesound (sound)
Photography/Camera: Emily Benton Frith
Narration: George Barclay


Let’s face it. Historically, cats have sometimes had a bad rap. Sure, some civilizations have worshipped them – but others have associated them with the devil or witchcraft, shunning them (or worse). Their occasional disinterest in, or independence of humans is bitterly qualified as aloof or detached. As though a pet not constantly concerned with lavishing attention on humans (looking at you, dogs) is kind of a jerk. But if you want to soften any person’s heart towards the feline variety, all you really need to do is give them ten straight minutes of baby kittens frolicking. And It’s a Cat’s Life (1957) does just that.

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One Got Fat (1963)

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Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Prelinger Archives

Running time: 15m 00s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1963
Director: Dale Jennings
Production: Interlude Films
Writer: Dale Jennings
Photography/Camera: Max Hutto
Art Director: Ralph Hulett
Narration: Edward Everett Horton


From late childhood through my early adolescence, my summers were marked by weeknight (BMX) bicycle rides with my best friend, Jim, that either extended to sundown or, more often, derailed and morphed into a Contra III gaming marathon in his living room. In lieu of sidewalks, our neighborhood streets had uneven white lines to demarcate the pedestrian walking space from the roadway, not that it would have mattered — we were too engrossed in conversation to observe the rules of the road and our neighborhood wasn’t a high-traffic area. We instead relied on a simple alert system for that rare approaching vehicle, and we otherwise kept to ourselves. There were no parental lectures about tune-ups, nary a hand signal, and I can count on one hand the number of times I wore a helmet. Continue reading One Got Fat (1963)

Halloween Party (1953)

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Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Prelinger Archives

Running Time: 06m12s
Source Film: color; sound
Year: 1953
Production: Encyclopaedia Britannica Films


While the Halloween costumes of today are often clever, shameless, or absurdly referential, their burlap and paper counterparts from last century still hold the crown for creepy (see related links below). The main character in 1953’s HALLOWEEN PARTY brandishes one such mask in a way that inadvertently sets off a chain of events which concludes with him wearing a straw hat and covered in his mother’s lipstick. I should probably explain.

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Bear Attends Classes-Outtakes (1929)

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Institution: University of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections
Collection: Fox Movietone News Collection

Running time: 03m58s13ms
Source film: 35mm; Nitrate; B&W; Negative; 300 feet
Video quality: Good
Year: 1929
Camera: Frank Lamb


While attending a liberal state university in the early 2000s, it was not uncommon to see students or faculty bringing their dogs around campus. (I never had the distinct pleasure of having one in a class I attended, but I would have welcomed it). In this silent footage shot by cameraman Frank Lamb, we see a different sort of animal being paraded around the campus of Georgia Tech: a small bear named Bruin, a gift to football player Jack “Stumpy” Thompson following GT’s 1929 Rose Bowl win over California.

Continue reading Bear Attends Classes-Outtakes (1929)