More Short Films

Today, we’re starting off with two more short film projects that, remarkably–given how much work Time Piece was–Jim also did in 1965! The first is called Run, Run, which he shot outside his home in Greenwich, CT. It mainly depicts Jim’s two young daughters running around the fallen-leaf-strewn woods in October and ends with them running into their mom, Jane’s, open arms. I don’t have a great deal to say about it, but it’s a charming little piece, thanks to the score by Joe Raposo, who would later write the songs and music for Sesame Street, and like much of Jim’s short film work, it has a similar feel to the short pieces he’d shoot for Sesame Street of children playing and the like, with similarly gentle, lovely music. It also demonstrates some quietly inventive camera work, with the camera at first following the girls from a distance but eventually capturing their POV, bouncing up and down to recreate what they’re seeing as they dash along:


The second is an uncompleted piece of short animation called Alexander the Grape, about a tiny grape who dreams of becoming a big, round watermelon after a nasty watermelon pushes him around for being small. Although Jim never finished the animation, for whatever reason, he did record the entire soundtrack, both dialogue and music–with Jerry Juhl as the voice of Alexander and Jim as Freddy the Fierce, a mean, bullying watermelon–and the Henson Company Archives later edited it all together with a number of storyboards to fill in the missing pieces. All in all, it’s a neat look at how Jim continued to experiment with animation and is also distinct from all of the short animated films of his I’ve watched up to this point due to the fact that it tells a short story, also foreshadowing many short Sesame Street pieces.


To be completely honest, you probably don’t want to think too deeply about the logic of the plot, since it culminates with the evil watermelon being bought at the grocery store and presumably eaten, whereas Alexander, who lives in the same grocery store, lives to be a ripe old grape (a few days or weeks later?), and none of his friends ever seem to come to harm. If the reality of this world didn’t include humans eating the fruit, it might have been fine, but once that element appears, it makes the whole thing a bit jarring if you consider the full implications. At the same time, it’s a stylized children’s fable, so do your best to just go with it!


It also ends on a pretty nifty Little Red Riding Hood scene, like the short animation equivalent of a Marvel tag scene:


And later today, I’ll be covering two variety show appearances the Muppets did in late 1965, which I’m looking forward to, since they did a lot of guest spots in the early days and I wasn’t able to find many of them other than Jimmy Dean, but we’re now reaching an era where a lot more footage is available, so check back here in a few hours for that!