Film Funnies

Film Funnies The Film Funnies card set was produced by Gum Inc. in 1935. There were 2 series of 24 cards each, measuring 2-7/16 x 3-1/8".

The front of these cards features of piece of crude colored line art depicting characters in various situations; the art contains word balloons, one of which is left blank. The art is surrounded by a white border, with the set title and card number at the top, and a standard caption at the bottom. The card backs give the set title and card number again, then a paragraph of text; this is followed by a multiple-choice of 5 answers that the collector can choose for the empty word balloon on the front.

The thing is, this card set exists in two forms. In the first, the characters are all identified as caricatures of then-famous movie actors and actresses, so that the bottom of the front of each card asks, 'What did _____________ say?', with the proper actor's name filling in the blank (in the case of the illustration at right, Eddie Cantor). Then on the back, the multiple-choice list of responses is headed, 'Which of these answers did Eddie Cantor give?'

In the second format (dubbed the 'unnamed' series by collectors), no actors are mentioned - almost certainly due to the threat or fear of lawsuits. Instead, the front bottom reads 'Can you tell?' while the multiple-choice list is headed 'Which answer did the [character] give?' Thus, while the first series is heavy with the names and likenesses of popular film stars of the time, the second series must have been printed to eliminate this litigation-taunting scenario, with the drawings just ambiguous enough that the card manufacturer cannot be sued. (The cards are also devoid of a printer copyright line.)

Whatever the truth of the case, collectors recognize that the 'named' series is more difficult to locate than the other, and is thus priced higher. (Some of this may also be due to enthusiasts of particular actors collecting individual cards.)

Value: Individual Film Funnies cards, in Excellent condition, can command between $20.00 and $80.00 each (unnamed) or between $60.00 and $200.00 each (named), depending on the actor depicted. A full set may command between $1,000 and $3,000.