This movie is a reversal on a common theme that started out with the Lumière brothers in the earliest days of cinema. Here, it is done by director Edwin S. Porter for the Edison Film Company in the year following his dramatic success with “The Great Train Robbery.”
The stage is hung with loops of sausage, each of which is labeled with the name of a dog (“spaniel,” “setter,” “pointer,” etc). At the center is a large box which is labeled “Patent DOG Transformator.” Two men attend the machine. Various characters come in with dogs, and have them reduced to sausages, to make sure we understand how it works (this is typical from the Lumière, Guy, and other versions). Next, a series of funny characters come in without dogs, and the men at the machine select a loop of sausage to add to the machine, and – voila! – a dog of the type chosen appears. The dogs are matched to the personality of their owners, ie a very proper lady receives a neatly groomed terrier, while a foppish gent takes a spaniel. At the end, a ruffian comes in and gets a bulldog, but he’s not tough enough, so the men create a “fighting bull” and the scene devolves into chaos between the dogs and the humans fighting each other.
A couple of interesting points, here. Several of the previous movies suggested that sausages were made out of dogs and other unsavory items, but this is the first to suggest that they can be turned back into dogs if not eaten first. It seems like a better movie for dog-lovers, for sure! The original catalog entry says that the men running the machine are “Germans,” which may represent a prejudice of the time about Germans’ eating habits (like jokes today about Koreans ostensibly eating dogs), or it just may be because Germans eat sausage and are associated with mechanical inventiveness.
This has been my contribution to the “Animals in Film” Blogathon hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Dog lovers, and animal lovers of all sorts should head over and check out the other posts!
Director: Edwin S. Porter
Camera: Edwin S. Porter
Run Time: 4 Min, 15 secs