Despite directing over 51 films, writing 28 and appearing in 21 until recently Charley Bowers was barely a footnote in the history of early cinema. For some reason this genius of early animation and stop-action went largely forgotten and many of his films met the fate of early nitrate stock. Perhaps his visions and inventions were a little too surreal for the post Second World War crowd.
At some point in the late 60s Raymond Borde, director of the Cinematheque de Toulouse, discovered a cache of silent films used by travelling fairs and amongst them were rusting cans of reels entitled “Bricolo.” It took him a while but Borde identified “Bricolo” as Bower’s French nom de cinema. About half of Bower’s films have been catalogue and restored and it’s thought that many lay undiscovered in film archives and libraries around the world.
It’s a Bird is one of the stranger shorts of Bower’s often strange films. Directed by Harold L. Muller with a script by Lowell Thomas, one of the pioneer’s of modern broadcasting, it features Charley as Charlie Chucklehead a junkyard custodian – he also created the special effects. Charlie thinks of his junkyard as an inspiration to help humanity and is constantly making things from what other people disgard. When he hears from a German professor of a bird, the Belgish Kongo, that eats metal he sets out to catch one. He succeeds with the help of music – the Belgish Kongo loves music – and a very surreal worm. The bird not only eats metal but talks and, surprising because he’s a rooster, lays eggs. But what happens when he lays those eggs surprises even Charley. Keep in mind that this was made in 1930.
On this day in 1499: Pretender to the throne Perkin Warbeck is hanged for reportedly attempting to escape from the Tower of London. He had invaded England in 1497, claiming to be the lost son of King Edward IV of England.