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Title:JOHN BULL'S ANIMATED SKETCHBOOK NO 15 [Main Title]
Film Number:IWM 1216
Summary: Short, humorous stop-frame animation propaganda film made for British Home Front audiences during the First World War.
Description: The film consists solely of a series of animated jokes, drawn and lettered directly onto the screen by "our famous artist". The artist's hand is shown (speeded up) as a scene is drawn with a brush, and then inhabited by animated cut-outs, moved frame-by-frame. The illustrations are in a comic style similar to Bruce Bairnsfather. The artist interjects comments on his own performance, eg "I receive remuneration for doing this sometimes", "A little encouragement would oblige", etc. The principal animated episodes are as follows. "Exclusive view of the countless prisoners captured by the Germans" - the prisoners are moving dummies on an endless belt operated by the Kaiser himself. "In the remainder of the front there is nothing to report" - it is a shirt front. "Zeppelin reconnoitring over Greece" - a fly and a bowl of dripping. "The German Fleet sails out to meet the British" - a change of perspective reveals the drawing to be of houses, chimneys and telegraph poles - "Sorry my mistake". "An explanation of the expression 'Curtain Fire'" - a curtained window beside a fireplace: "See the point?" - a gimlet or corkscrew. "A moon ... A star ... Two stars ... Three stars" - the three stars are on a bottle which the moon drinks, becoming drunk and then ("Whoa Emma ... I'm off home") setting. "Last night we gained three metres: Berlin" - three German soldiers cross the screen then return, each carrying a gas meter. "Another Zeppelin destroyed" - a caricature Charlie Chaplin in a wheelchair ultimately defeats the Zeppelin by having it tie itself in knots over the unpronounceable name of a Russian victory, after which he grins, stands up and pins a medal on himself.
Production Details: Ruffell's (Production sponsor)
Cartoon Company (Production company)
Buxton, Dudley (Production individual)
Dyer, Anson (Production individual)
Personalities, Units and Organisations:
Keywords: propaganda, British - inflammatory (object name)
propaganda, British - inspirational (object name)
Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W
Sound format: Silent
Soundtrack language: None
Title language: English
Subtitle language: None
Technical Details: Format: 35mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 1
Footage: 465 ft; Running time: 8 mins
Notes: Production: the film carries no credits. Production information as given is derived or deduced from Rachael Low's 'History of the British Film'. Thus, a release date of July 1916 is inferred from the issue number, the fact that issues were released monthly, and the date of May 1915 for issue number 1.
Sponsor/production company: Low states the films were "nominally" made by "The Cartoon Company" but actually sponsored and distributed by Ruffell's, a renting firm. Buxton and Dyer produced alternate issues of the SKETCHBOOK ("Each artist, working separately, was able to finish one cartoon in eight weeks, one being released each month") but it has not been possible to determine which was responsible for this issue.
Remarks: the film offers confirmation of the lack of sophistication of the First World War's sense of humour - many of the jokes are very obvious, but even so the point is underlined by the artist's hand, a further caption etc.