John Dilworth’s Irrational Reactions

Posted by on Sep 26, 2010 in Industry Events | 2 Comments

Article written by Emmett Goodman.

On Thursday night, September 23, filmmaker John R. Dilworth presented a show of his animated films at 92Y Tribeca. The title of this show is Irrational Reactions.

Recently, I have seen two of John Dilworth’s previous showings. One, which I previously wrote about back in November, was something of a homecoming after two years abroad in Europe. The second was just months ago, near my home in Park Slope. The two shows each had a different theme. The first felt like a retrospective of John himself. The second revolved around the theme of the animator playing god. This one was called Irrational Reactions, so I just had to see what was different about this one.

John opened up the show by coming forth, and announcing that the show had been cancelled. I must admit, I almost fell for that, and felt slightly disappointed. But after a second of believing it, I noticed John was still grinning and much of the audience was starting to giggle. My friend sitting next to me immediately quoted a line from Courage the Cowardly Dog, and after holding his famous grin for a few more moments, John announced that the show was back on and in full swing. And we had our first demonstration of irrational reactions…I think.

The show opened with one of John’s trademark films, The Dirty Birdy. At the film’s end, John re-entered the theater is his Space Suit, proceeding to explain how to pitch a show to an animation executive. My sister was with us that night, and she was selected as the volunteer to play an executive. John then demonstrated his pitching approach, which for some reason, involved juggling. I think that while some presenters try to keep their cool around executives, John seemed to be trying to show us how to use nervous energy to our advantage. Fascinating (in the words and voice of Mr. Spock).

This led into The Chicken from Outer Space (for some reason I still find the shots of the UFO approaching the lonely house to be amongst my favorite in the film). After that, John discussed the relationship between humans and their pets, which led into Noodles and Ned. And then, like a good connoisseur, sat down for a bite of cheese, while explaining its pros and cons. Henceforth, we head into The Mousochist. After this, John reminisced about pain, particularly his personal pain around the time of 9/11, and how it all entered into Lost In Transition, John’s masterpiece of a film.

Now a big surprise. John invited Pierre Delarue, a French animator, to show alongside John’s films. Monsieur Delarue’s best known (and only known) film is The Return of Sgt. Pecker. After the film, Monsieur Delarue requested an audience member, for whom he could give one of his famous head massages. A young woman volunteered, and Monsieur Delarue proceeded to make conversation while fidgeting with his blue rubber gloves. Although he never quite got around to the head massage, this was the highlight of the show’s comedy. It reminded me of the pre-sex acting you see in a porno (I bring you my own irrational reaction).

Now came John’s most recent opus, Rinky Dink. And true to form, the film uses visual humor to express deep-seated emotions. At the end of the film, John took an opportunity to present the recently released DVD set of Courage the Cowardly Dog. He seems to be a little disappointed in the lack of special features. John then apologized for the lack of music, as he had hired a band, but then they couldn’t make it. So as a finale, John sang himself (in style akin to the old crooners, like Sinatra), and wowed most of us with his goodnight song.

Always fun. Always a laugh. Always a psychologically fascinating subject. John R. Dilworth.


  1. Caresse
    September 27, 2010

    Emmett – it was great to see you again, and to meet your lovely sister!

    And to add to Emmett’s description, this presentation was reminiscent of the theatrical spirit of Vaudeville, where real life performance and interaction added an entertaining and personal layer to a visual display of Dilworth’s shorts. It would be great to see more presentations like this.

  2. Jennifer Oxley
    September 29, 2010

    John Dilworth’s screening was most definitely the highlight of my week. I went expecting to see a selection of John’s films with a standard Q&A to follow. Instead John introduced every film with witty and entertaining stories complete with costumes. The night was truly inspirational!