• kazblox
  • Advanced Member Topic Starter
5 years ago
I have come back to the forums after 2 years of being inactive due to being wary of my naive behavior and the way I spoke. Mainly, my goal is to gather up anything I can about Paul Terry's silent "Aesop's Fables" shorts.

Is there a concentrated repository of information about these? Information appears to be scattered all over the place, with copyright information being scarce other than listings and filmography sources that are inconsistent. The only filmography I found that was heavily useful for me was the Pathé Exchange filmography from the Southern Illinois University Press. It contains most of the Terry and Foster titles up to the RKO Pathé period with their release dates, save for few titles like 'Spring Time' which seem to be absent.

There are also some Fables in Southern Illinois University Press' filmography which are completely absent in the rest of the filmographies, such as 'Never Gamble In A Hen House', released April 22 of 1923. Searching this title on the internet brings up nothing but this filmography, which lead me to doubts and suspicions. A print for this Fable with an exact or similar has not shown in any collection I have searched.

Information on distribution of the Fables also appears to be scattered. Other than the Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit, newspapers around the time of the Fables' debut say that the shorts were used and projected in schools for actual, educational value to teach the lessons of Aesop. British censor codes for the New Zealand Film Archive's print of 'Henry's Busted Romance' show that Fables as early as 1922 only received international distribution in Europe five years later. Thomas Stathes has a Spanish print of the Fable 'The Bad Bandit', although I have no information on what it looks like, as my access is limited.

To this day, the only official firms I have known that have bought rights to the Fables series for home and television distribution that I have known were: Kodascope Film Library [16mm], Commonwealth Productions [16mm], Pathegrams [8mm and 16mm], Pathex [9.5mm], Stuart Productions [16mm], Sterling Television [8mm], Film Highlights, Inc. [16mm] and Carnival Films [8mm]. I do not know of any other firms so far that could have picked up legal rights to the Fables and their negatives.

Van Beuren during the early sound era also distributed reissues older Fables with intertitles cut and a new soundtrack in place by Josiah Zuro; 'Horses, Horses, Horses' and 'The Polo Match' were also reissued in the RKO period. Most of this information is already known to people who browse the forum, but I have not seen anyone try to document these reissues to an extent. See more in a later post.

Character information on the silent Fables before Foster took control are also vague; "Milton Mouse" and "Mary Mouse" seemed to be template names for the male and female mice characters in the Fables; "Henry Cat" and "Thomas Cat" were also template name for the cat role in each Fable. David Gerstein's copyright synopsis for 'Horses, Horses, Horses' gives off the name of the horse role in the Fables to be "Horace Horse", and certain newspapers identify the template dog role as "Fido Dog". They had no concrete role(?), but seemed to play out as "everyman" roles in the series. David Gerstein says that a copyright synopsis from a 1924 Fable also exists where the mice characters are named "Mickey" and "Minnie"! Although, he has yet to write it up...

Contribution to what I have so far is greatly desired, as this is only the beginning of my search; I have not consulted any other film experts such as Thomas Stathes for more information.

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