collections

The First Circus (1921)

A strange instance of two films having been catalogued together as one, both made by German American puppeteer and illustrator Tony Sarg (1880-1942). The first untitled film is a critique of the Prohibition era in America during the 1920s, when the selling, producing, and transporting of alcohol was illegal. The cartoon begins with Charles Darwin writing The Descent of Man, joking that he simultaneously “unknowingly discovered the original Prohibition Agent” as two monkeys find a bottle of alcohol and drink its contents, only to end up crying when a bigger monkey finds the bottle and takes it away from them.

The second film then goes on to a completely different theme, that of The First Circus, showing a caveman and cavewoman performing with a dinosaur and snake who are used as a trampoline for acrobatic tricks and as a tightrope respectively, with a caveman and his family gleefully watching the performance. However, the dinosaur (who seems to possess a snake’s tongue) tickles the female audience member’s foot with disastrous consequences…

Library of Congress
Underlying Work: PD U.S. | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
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