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Animation on the Vaudeville Stage: Bug Vaudeville

by Nicholas Sammond

Winsor McCay's Bug Vaudeville (1918) was one of his Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend series. The film, which was one of his later efforts (he had pretty much stopped making films by the early 1920s), recounts the bad dream of a hobo who witnesses an eerie vaudeville show by insects and spiders. The cartoon, which was produced after McCay had been barred from performing by his employer, William Randolph Hearst, treats vaudeville in an elegaic fashion. It also plays with the spatial relations of viewing. Given that the film could be screened in vaudeville houses, the layering of its screen plains would be even more deep.

Bug Vaudeville

This 1918 cartoon is illustrative of the relationship of early animation to vaudeville.

from Bug Vaudeville (1918)
Creator: Winsor McCay
Distributor: Milestone Films
Posted by Nicholas Sammond
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