In the late 20’s and early 30’s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a series of short films unlike any other. The title of the series is the All Barkie Dogville Comedies, or, in parody of the common phrase ‘talkies,’ the films were sometimes known as ‘Barkies.’
Film 1: So Quiet on the Canine Front
These films used no actors. Instead, trained dogs were used to act out scenes in parody of contemporary actors of the time. Voices were dubbed over by various voice artists. Zion Meyers and Jules White co-directed and created the series; the two would later work on The Three Stooges together.
Since they were created, the film’s have met criticism, citing a mistreatment of dogs. (Rumors say that their mouths were moved using fishing line). They are considered classic works of film but are rarely seen due to their controversial nature. Enter TCM. The company has released the entire series on DVD, and it is made available on their website. They also air the comedies on television from time to time.
Film 2: Dogway Melody
There’s really no use explaining the films, you really have to see them for yourself. Before I watched the films I didn’t expect them to get anywhere near as good of quality as they did. I can see why people might be concerned for the dogs, but in terms of shorts, these are creative and very funny. The dubbed voices work so well with the dogs’ mouth movements, and nowhere else will you find a dog milking a cow.
L ook forward to an interesting next post, covering the almost double-feature like Unseen Cinema/Fragments special that aired on TCM Earlier in the year.