Felix the Cat !!!
Felix the black and white catalogue
Felix the black and white catalogue is a 160 page book dedicated to the original Felix cartoons of the 1920's. If you'd like to order a copy please send an Email to enquire about the purchase. In the meantime, the introductory text is reproduced below..........
The history of Felix the Cat is well documented in John Canemaker's excellent work of reference "Felix, the Twisted Tale of the World's Most Famous Cat" published by Pantheon Books of New York in 1991, ISBN 0-679-40127-X and then Da Capo Press of New York in 1996, ISBN 0-306-80731-9. Similarly, for those interested in Felix's comic book adventures there is David Gerstein's "Nine Lives to Live" published by Fantagraphics Books in 1996, ISBN 1-56097-308-0. These books provide excellent reading and should certainly find a place on the bookshelf of the Felix the Cat fan !
The current volume is complementary to these publications but is concerned only with the original black and white Felix cartoons themselves. It is intended as a complete illustrated catalogue of these works, a sort of "bible" of information englobing the total output of Felix's black and white animated career, enabling quick and easy identification of Felix prints (especially those which are incomplete or without titles or with unoriginal titles) through detailed synopses and in particular helping to preserve the memory of this marvellous Felix era in one special book.
Regrettably, as with many projects of this type, the end result is somewhat unsatisfactory, but then the first edition had to published one day !!!!
In the next chapter, 139 black and white Felix cartoons are described. The breakdown is as follows:-
Film No.1 FELINE FOLLIES (1919) distributed by the FAMOUS PLAYERS - LASKY CORPORATION for the PARAMOUNT MAGAZINE.
Film Nos.2-53 FELIX SAVES THE DAY (1922) to FELIX GETS HIS FILL (1925) distributed by Margaret J. WINKLER PRODUCTIONS (PATHESCOPE IN EUROPE.)
Film Nos.54-131 FELIX TRIFLES WITH TIME (1925) to FELIX THE CAT IN THE LAST LIFE (1928) distributed by E.W.HAMMONS of EDUCATIONAL FILM EXCHANGES by arrangement with BIJOU FILMS (IDEAL CINEMAGAZINE in the U.K. and FIRST NATIONAL in FRANCE.)
Film Nos.132-139 FELIX THE CAT IN FALSE VASES (1929) to FELIX THE CAT IN TEE-TIME (1930) distributed by JACQUES KOPFSTEIN through COPLEY PICTURES CORPORATION.*
Release dates are approximate other than for the Educational series.
We say "unsatisfactory" because unfortunately this filmography is not complete. The Famous Players-Lasky series from 1919-1921, where Felix started off as "Master Tom" incidentally, remains largely unresearched. If the films appeared on a monthly basis there could be at least two dozen in the series for example. It is perhaps now impossible to reconstruct a listing of these films which on the whole could be lost forever.....
From there on however, the picture is a bit more rosy! The Winkler series contained herein is at least near-complete. It would appear that Pat Sullivan signed three contracts with the distributor for 12 + 24 + 24 films so there should be at least 60 titles in reality. Here there are only 52, but the listing is limited to those films where physical, viewable evidence supported the titles (49 films are described in as much detail as possible) or at the very least a bona fide written synopsis existed (films 20 & 40) or a copy is known to be in existence (film 39 - thank you David for an idea of the content.) Other probable original titles in this series are limited to the general index.
For the Educational chapter at least we know that the listing is 100% complete. Sullivan, or perhaps the distributor seem to have taken care to safeguard the exploitation of the character and so all the titles were copyright registered which renders the list easily accessible. Consequently, however, relatively few of these films were released on sub-standard guages for collectors and a good 30% of the films appear to this day to be 'invisible', not even available in any format in the major international film libraries. Do Sullivan's heirs have precious copies decaying in the cellar...........?!?!?! As a result, for uniformity's sake, these synopses are limited to Educational Film Exchanges original publicity statements and illustrations are rather limited (so many films would in any event have been impossible to illustrate...............) This information should be sufficient to identify all the films concerned.
We know that Jacques Kopfstein re-released a number of the Educational films but with added sound tracks. In addition there were a number of new titles, all sound, and these are described and illustrated in detail. There are only 8 new titles here but there could have been several more? Two other possible original titles are listed in the general index but no visual or written proof was available at the time of going to print. (*The main titles of Kopfstein released films began by crediting only "BY ARRANGEMENT WITH BIJOU FILMS INC." before dismissing this mention for COPLEY PICTURES CORPORATION.)
We estimate that about 175 black and white Felix cartoons were made from 1919 to 1930 so this catalogue of 139 is not a bad first attempt!!!
Details of the film releases by the major suppliers of sub-standard films for collectors - PATHESCOPE and KODAK - are listed in subsequent chapters.
This book is dedicated to the memory of Otto Messmer, the animator to whom we must be grateful for giving us so many Felix adventures to enjoy.
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