Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Egg Cracker Suite (1943)

WHO: Ben Hardaway, whose nickname "Bugs" became immortalized while he was directing cartoons for Warner Brothers, and drawings by Robert Clampett of a Wascally character in Hardaway's Porky's Hare Hunt cartoon became labelled "Bugs's Bunny".  

WHAT: This cartoon about a mechanized egg production factory (made a year before the famous Swooner Crooner) is the only one Hardaway directed after leaving the Warner Studio (after being demoted from director upon Friz Freleng's 1939 return from a period at MGM) and working for Walter Lantz, for whom he helped created the character Woody Woodpecker. It seems only fitting that it features a rabbit as lead character. In fact it's the final cartoon ever produced featuring the Oswald The Lucky Rabbit character once created by Walt Disney and star of several silent films. It was Disney's loss of the exclusive rights to make Oswald cartoons that inspired him to jealousy guard the control over his next character creation, Mickey Mouse.

WHERE/WHEN: Tonight at 8PM at Oddball Fillms. Seating is limited, so it's best to RSVP by e-mailing or calling ahead at (415) 558-8117. 

WHY: This week David Bordwell wrote a lovely tribute to the 16mm film format and its history over the years. It read much like a euology. And perhaps it is, in a way. But although 16mm appears to be in its final, waning years as a format for working with as a medium of creation, there are still enormous quantities of 16mm film reels in archives and personal collections around the world. Leaving aside the many works natively created in this format, reduction prints are also the only method of reasonably accessing vast categories of films originally made in 35mm in a physical (as opposed to digital, or just as frequently, non-existent) form. So while I may have sounded dismissive when mentioning a 16mm print of Blood Money earlier this week, I was in fact thrilled to get any kind of chance to see that singular film, despite its less-than-perfect presentation.

16mm prints from the Oddball collection are also often less-than-perfect as well, but I've seen quite a few that were simply lustrous. And I always treasure a mediocre print viewing than a mediocre digital viewing; I doubt much of the Oddball collection is available on Blu-Ray or even good DVDs (the DVD versions of the Eames films screening there tomorrow night are adequate, but in my view still far inferior to watching 16mm prints). The Egg Cracker Suite was produced in 35mm but the odds of seeing it projected that way in your or my lifetime seems slim at best. I hope it's a good print, but I'll be glad just to see it one way or another.

HOW: The Egg Cracker Suite screens as part of a full 16mm program of delectables, also including industrial training films like Rush Hour Service and breakfast-themed excerpts from The Ipcress File, a feature film made by Sidney J. Furie, whose The Entity blew minds at the Castro Theatre last Friday.


  1. Word on the street is that a WB cartoon may also be added to the bill. Bring your own coffee with which to wash down the apricot-stuffed bread pudding or ginger cake. It'll be cosy.

  2. I'm about to head over right now!