Miss Dundee and Her Performing Dogs (1902)
Alternate Title: Miss Dundee et ses chiens savants
This is a typical “Age of Attractions” film of a sideshow or circus act, scaled down for the camera, allowing people who might be in distant locations to see a performance that previously had to be visited in person. Director Alice Guy gives us only a few minutes of what was probably a much longer act in person, but the time is well used.
Miss Dundee appears on a stage with several of her dogs on various stands, wearing a variety of costumes. She is attired in tights and a slight outfit – very revealing for 1902. An assistant bring out an easel and canvas. She begins to paint on it, and this causes one dog to jump down and stand on his hind legs, looking like he is begging. This dog is dressed in a jacket, like a dinner jacket or something the British upper class might wear in a men’s club. Miss Dundee notices him, leans over as if to speak with him briefly, and summons her assistant again, who brings a staircase that goes up to the easel. The dog climbs the stairs on all fours, gets back up on hind legs, then turns and bows to the audience. He then turns his back and begins to simulate writing or drawing on the board. Here, there is a jump cut (or perhaps some missing frames) and we never see what the dog has drawn or written.
From here, the action mostly involves Miss Dundee holding out a rod and directing dogs to jump over or under it while the assistant brings out various platforms for them to leap from. Most of the dogs are small, but one is fairly large, perhaps a Great Dane, who gets jumped over as well as jumping over Miss Dundee, and I believe I saw at least one terrier as well as various sizes and types of poodle. The camera is stationary and the filmmaker leaves it up to Dundee to provide movement and interest. I liked the “painting dog” part best myself, but it’s too bad it was cut off the way it was.
Director: Alice Guy
Camera: Unknown (possibly Alice Guy)
Starring: “Miss” Dundee, various dogs.
Run Time: 3 Min 20 secs
You can watch it for free: here.