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[Detail] Krazy Kat goes a-wooing. 1916.

Morality Tales

Cartoons have the ability to entertain and influence a young audience. Two films in this collection from Wallace Carlson's "Dud" series attempt to use humor and gentle scares to demonstrate how children should behave.

Boy smoking cigaretter with dog.

Dud smokes a pipe in He Resolves Not to Smoke.

In, He Resolves Not to Smoke (1915), Dud becomes fascinated with smoking and blowing smoke rings and he steals a man's pipe to try this himself. The smoke from the pipe transforms into a ghost that carries him into the sky and leaves him on the moon. Dud falls off the moon and wakes up on the floor of his room but his dream is frightful enough to make him declare, "Jimminy crickets . . . but that uz an awful one! I ain't never goin' to smoke. I ain't."

Dud Leaves Home (1919) features imaginary ghosts in a different setting. The young boy runs away from home after his mother punishes him for breaking her bank to buy his girlfriend an ice cream. Dud reconsiders his plans, however, when ghosts visit him at night. He becomes so scared that he runs home and winds up receiving a spanking from his mother.

  • Why do you think that Dud is scared into making a decision in both films?
  • Is Dud in any real danger in either film?
  • How do you think that children might respond to these stories? Do you think that they might think about the consequences of smoking or stealing any differently after seeing these films?
  • Do you think that there are any similarities between the ghosts of the "Dud" series and "Joy" and "Gloom" in Raoul Barre's "Phables"?
  • What do you think is the role of each non-human entity in these films?
  • How do these films compare to the 1904 "Buster Brown Series" (from the American Memory collection, Inventing Entertainment) about a mischievous boy and his dog?
  • Use the characters of Dud and his ghosts to write a new cautionary tale for children.