Font Size

Imagine going out for dinner to a restaurant you’ve long enjoyed only to discover all the wonderful things that came with that dinner absent. You’d probably stop going to that restaurant.

That’s what happened to the movies.

All those wonderful short films that used to be part of the movie going experience are today absent from the course.

My favourite remark is, “No one comes out for short films.”

Why favourite? First because I hear it constantly from the industry. Second because it is not true.

Walt Disney was told, “No one comes out for short films. Even fewer come out for cartoons,” when he arrived in New York with STEAMBOAT WILLIE starring the then unknown Mickey Mouse in 1928.

But one man, Samuel Roxy Rothafel said different. He said, “I can fill my theatre with that cartoon.” .

Roxy did.

The publicity he generated made every person in the world want to see Mickey Mouse.

That’s what launched Walt Disney.

It is also what is completely lacking at the movies in the 21st century.

There are two types of people. The majority do what they think will interest others which it rarely does. They are called smart people.

The minority do what interests them. They are almost always called stupid people by the majority.

When I first began my film programs in Toronto I was constantly told, “No one is interested in that but you.” Followed by, “You’re crazy.”

Well at that time there were, luckily, no film schools. I wanted to study the art, business, culture and history of the medium of the motion picture in all its forms from high to low. When I acquired prints of important films (first on 8mm and then on 16mm) so that I could see them as well as read about them the friends I shared them with quickly grew bored.

That all changed when Captain George Henderson invited me to show films I owned first in his Queen Street West store, VINTAGE BOOKS, and then in his Mirvish Village store, MEMORY LANE.

Into my life came strangers who knew the value (unlike my friends) of the films I was offering. They said, “I can’t believe you have this! I have been trying to see it for years!”

I was 18.

Those folk include future TVO host Elwy Yost (Saturday Night At The Movies), Pierre Berton (one of Canada’s greatest writers), Jane Jacobs (author of THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES and one of the world’s greatest thinkers), Judith Merril, the mother of modern day science fiction, which she called, “speculative fiction,” Al Aronowitz, and a host of equally important not so famous people plus many who became famous, Chester Brown, Seth, Joe Matt, Alexandre Hamel, Emo Philips and more.

Not too shabby for a kid told in high school, “You have the wrong attitude. If you leave this school today you will starve in two weeks.” Had I not left that moment I would have starved.

We live in a time when the importance of the individual is daily devalued.

Of course nothing is more important than the individual.

“Never underestimate the importance of one person to change the world for the better. All too often that is all that does it,” said Margaret Meade. I’m clearly with her.

Arnold Leibovit is one person changing the world for the better: .

His love for the work of film artist George Pal has enriched beyond measure everyone who loves the potential of the movies.

Who was George Pal , ,  ?

In the 1970s when I first became interested in theatrical American animated films it was next to impossible to see them. Often the available 16mm prints of everything not Disney left a lot to be desired.

It was a dark age.

Using his own money as well as employing the expertise and love of several others who share our admiration for these works (primarily Steve Stanchfield of Thunderbean Animation) Leibovit offers us wonderfully restored copies of these films that frankly, surpassed my expectations. I expected them to be good. I dared not hope they would be this good.

Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself. The really good news is there is more to come with Volume Three in the works.

Meanwhile now while motion picture theatres are closed thanks to covid they should think of adding some excitement to their menu.

–Reg Hartt

The Puppetoon Movie, Vol.2, at last, available preorder!


« »