Dave Fleischer

Int.: Max Fleischer. Prod.: Max Fleischer per Out of the Inkwell Films, Inc.. 35mm. L.: 177 m. D.: 9’ a 18 f/s. Bn

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The Fleischer animation studio, which would produce so many memorable sound cartoons in later years, was already functioning at full strength during the silent period. The studio’s signature series of the 1920s was Out of the Inkwell. In dozens of Inkwell shorts, a cartoon clown – eventually christened Ko-Ko – came to life on the drawing board, interacted with artist Max Fleischer, and escaped into the real world. Invariably stirring up trouble, the clown ended the reel by taking refuge back in the inkwell. This seemingly limited template was actually a springboard for an endlessly inventive assortment of ideas and gags. Surprise offers a delightful example, as a distracted Max inadvertently thwarts the clown’s cartoon romance. The enraged clown retaliates with an extreme revenge of his own. The early scenes of this short are also a showcase for the rotoscope, a Fleischer invention that allowed the artist to trace action from frames of live-action film to create more lifelike animation.

J.B. Kaufman

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