February 6, 2014 posted by

“Dolly Daisy in Hearts and Flowers” (1930)

I’m back to my Thursday postings this week – but first an update: The Gulliver Travels BluRay is finally coming back next week from replication, ending the longest Thunderbean wait ever. I can’t wait for you to see it.

On this week’s cartoon front, here is a strange little stop motion short, Dolly Daisy in ‘Hearts and Flowers’.

When I’m working on one of the DVD collections, I’m often asking for specific things from the collectors I’m talking to. The thing that I always hope happens as I’m asking is for the collector to say “…by the way, I have this other
film…” This usually leads to adding an additional film to the set, but always happily so.

One of those cases was this short. While trying to hunt down the ‘Kinex’ shorts for the Stop Motion Marvels‘ set, Mark Kausler mentioned he had THIS film. Originally It was a 35mm print that had started to deteriorate. Mark had the foresight to have a 16mm reduction print made of it. Without doing so this film would perhaps have been lost, since no other materials have shown up on it.

Dolly Daisy in ‘Hearts and Flowers’ was originally released by Warner Brothers as part of its ‘Vitaphone Varieties‘ series, with sound. That series was mostly live action musical shorts. Warner Brothers doesn’t appear to have any material on this film. The Vitaphone soundtrack hasn’t shown up as of yet, but there’s always hope.

Howard Moss, who directed this short, was one of the earliest stop motion animators, producing a series called ‘MoToy Comedies’. One of his early efforts is here, from the Library of Congress:

My good friend Ken Preibe had an informative post about Howard Moss and ‘Cracked Ice’, another short that shows up on Stop Motion Marvels here.

I had guessed originally that Hearts and Flowers could be a much earlier film, and that perhaps the soundtrack was added later. I wondered if we would ever see one of these with an original soundtrack.

One has finally turned up from around the same period as this one, called ‘Buzz Saws and Dynamite‘ starring “Mugzee”, a character that Moss had used since the late teens. His replacement animation techniques are interesting and creative, sometimes more than bizarre.

It turns out these shorts were animated for the early sound era. ‘Buzz Saws‘ is much more bizarre than I can describe here. I hope to have it transferred finally in the coming week. Sadly, this 16mm sound print is well into stages of Vinegar Syndrome, all curly and unfriendly. It’s been soaking for months in a can in my basement. I’m looking forward to another Stop Motion set of films sometime soon.


  • That’s great news, Steve. 🙂

    Any news yet on your other blu-ray title, Technicolor Dreams and Black and White Nightmares?

  • Thanks for the update, Steve. I am so looking forward to the Gulliver set!

  • I’m thinking the film may very well date to the mid-20s (and sound was added later). “Dolly Dingle” was a very popular paper doll character into the 1920s (that *your* “Dolly” resembles – the round-eyed, pudgy child look drawn by artist Grace Drayton).

    My guess is the film dates to 1925-1926 (when there were still a lot of takes on Grace’s work seen in the design of paper -and early composition- dolls) – thank you for this footage!

  • Hey Steve! I didn’t mention this in our DVD commentary, but upon further reflection I think the original title for this film could have been “Midnight Frolic”. It’s one of the titles in this ‘Peter Pan Film Company’ list from imdb.

  • No one hopes for original soundtracks turning up on these films more than I! I never knew that folks were experimenting with stop motion that early in film history, but it seems like a natural. I hope your searches bear some kind of fruit–I know that the Warner Archive has come up short on one or two Vidaphone Varieties shorts regarding either soundtrack materials or visuals, so my hopes ever dim, but they don’t entirely fizzle out. I give a shout out to private collectors to give a little, if you’ve got source materials on old cartoons, so the great old memories do not die unseen by the scores of fans that would love to see the rarest of titles.

    Oh, and of course I’m delighted to hear of the near completion of the Fleischer disk(s). Can’t wait until I’m enjoying the package myself. Thanks, as always, for these posts.

    • Kevin- no one wishes for clearer soundtracks that I do…. so you can hear them! Thanks for the wonderful comments and letter recently as well. I do hope that the track for this shows up. If the track for ‘Buzz Saws’ is any indication, it will be really fun!

      Technicolor Dreams is in progress daily. I hope to have a master finished this month, finally!

  • So did this cartoon predate Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes? (I know it’s not the same studio behind Dolly Daisy, but it is an interesting piece of history)

  • I came across this post in connection with a post I did on my blog, My Year in 1918, about a story on Moss in the January 1918 issue of Everyone’s magazine. The story in Everyone’s discusses the making of his 50-minute 1917 feature, The Dream Doll, and includes photographs of the animators in action. As far as I can tell, there are no copies of that movie still in existence. It was great to be able to see some of Moss’s work.

  • What a weird little gem! I would like to know if this film is public domain and can be used for a project of mine?
    Great work!

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