Hay Fever! Thurs. August 16 - 8PM

Oddball Films and guest curator Landon Bates bring you Hay Fever!, a selection of 16mm short films which celebrate that most magisterial of mammals: the horse.  These 7 equine shorts range in genre from historical to horror, from mystical to musical, and, incidentally, none of them are westerns.  We’ll kick things off with a special sort of newsreel from the San Francisco Media Archive, Blackie, Wonder Horse Swims the Golden Gate (1938).  Then, once out of the gate, we’ll move along to the atmospheric Philip and the White Colt (1969), directed by Richard Sarafian, involving a lonely mute boy who forms a spiritual bond with a mysterious white colt roaming solo over the English hillside.  Dream of the Wild Horses (1962), an ecstatic nightmare vision in which wild horses gnash their teeth and kick up slow motion mud, alternately bounding through fire and water, is not to be missed.  Milestones of the Century: Horse Racing’s Greatest Spills, newsreel footage from the 1940’s, features jockeys and their mounts at their most unfortunate, tumbling into the dust like dominos.  The Babbitt and the Bromide (1946) showcases the likes of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, romping around in front of equestrian statues, in a musical number from Vincente Minnelli’s classic Ziegfeld Follies.  The Unicorn in the Garden (1953), an animation adapted from a James Thurber cartoon, puts that magical cousin of the horse in the middle of a dysfunctional domestic situation.   And lastly, at the finish line will be The Rocking Horse Winner (1977), a demonic adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s chilling story about a boy who rocks himself into clairvoyant trances in order to predict horse racing winners and help his mother get out of debt.  Whether you trot, canter, or gallop, get yourself over to Oddball Films for this uniquely equestrian evening.    

Date: Thursday, August 16th, 2012 at 8:00pm

Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco

Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to programming@oddballfilm.com or (415) 558-8117

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

- Winston Churchill


Blackie the Wonder Horse Swims the Golden Gate (B&W, 1938)
In 1938, Shortie Roberts, owner of San Francisco’s famed Roberts-on-the-Beach restaurant, made a $1,000 wager with Bill Kyne, of the Bay Meadows race track, that his horse, Blackie, could swim the golden gate, following Kyne’s assertion that horses couldn’t swim.  As will be made clear by this impressive footage of Blackie in action, Kyne was obliged to pony up and make good on his bet. 

Philip and the White Colt (Color, 1969)
Two years before directing ‘70’s road classic Vanishing Point, Richard Sarafian made Run Wild, Run Free, which was then edited down to a shorter version intended to be shown in classrooms.  This distilled version, lacking none of the atmosphere of the original, with its fog-strewn English hillsides and extreme close ups of the eyes of the eponymous white colt, is by turns moving and creepy.  Philip (played by Mark Lester, who two years later would go on to do the much more widely known horse film, Black Beauty) is a lonely mute boy with a troubled home life, becoming drawn to a beautiful and mysterious white horse that roams the lush green hills outside his family’s country home.  A girl with a falcon befriends him, as does a retired old colonel, who teaches him to ride.  But, although the horse helps Philip find friends and, in turn, himself, an unexpected threat befalls the benign beast, rendering him helpless and in need of Philip.  Little known at present, this film may well become a colt classic.   

Dream of the Wild Horses (Color, 1962)
Directed by Denys Colomb de Daunant with an unsettling ambient musical score by Jacques Lasry, this cinematic poem uses slow motion and soft focus camera to evoke the wild horses of the Camargue District of France, showing them as they bound over the beach running through walls of fire and water.  A remarkable film, at once awe-inspiring and terrifying.

Milestones of the Century: Horse Racing’s Greatest Spills (B&W, 1940’s)
1940’s newsreel footage of, well, horse racing bloopers, without all the ‘bings’ and ‘boings’ in the soundtrack we’ve become accustomed to (a la America’s Funniest Home Videos).  When slowed down, jockeys and their horses tumbling en masse take on tragic dimensions. 

The Babbitt and the Bromide (Color, 1946)
From that lustrous MGM musical Ziegfeld Follies, directed by the one and only Vincente Minelli, this sequence brings together Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly for some serious horseplay.  A zany song-and-dance number, set to the Gershwin tune, that will leave you beaming.  Featured in Minelli’s characteristically dazzling set, and prominently displayed behind Astaire and Kelly, sits an equestrian statue (our link here), comically changing along with the duo’s costumes and characters. 

The Unicorn in the Garden (Color, 1953)
An animated short film based on writer and cartoonist James Thurber’s beloved domestic fable.  When a middle aged man delightedly reports finding a unicorn eating roses in the garden outside his house, his unpleasant wife nags that mythical creatures do not exist, before, finally, attempting to have him confined in a strait jacket and taken to “the booby trap.”  This film brings to life Thurber’s wonderfully bubbly animation style, in brilliant Technicolor, with lurid blues, yellows, and greens.  It’s no accident that Thurber was commonly regarded as a ‘horse-sense’ humorist.

The Rocking Horse Winner (Color, 1977)
Adapted from the chilling D.H. Lawrence story, The Rocking Horse Winner features another youngster in a strained familial situation, who eavesdrops on his parents’ raucous quarrels over money.  Desperate to cheer up his depressive mother, who can no longer afford to pay the bills of their grand family estate and who grieves that her “luck has run out,” and spurred on by whispers he hears from the house that “there must be more money,” young Paul begins secretly placing bets on horses through his sympathetic uncle (played by Kenneth More) to raise money for his mom.  Little does his uncle know, however, that Paul’s miraculous winning streak has been ill-achieved, through semi-satanic means.  This film features black magic, a trippy soundtrack, and a blood curdling climax. 

Curator’s Biography:
Landon Bates is a UC Berkeley graduate of English Literature, has worked on several documentary film projects, recently acted in a music video for the doom metal band Black Cobra, is the drummer for the psych-rock duo Disappearing People, and is a cinephile whose obsession with movies knows no bounds.