Hello, Jose from "Movies Kick Ass" here. Have you ever wondered when animal treatment began being monitored in the film industry? Well, neither had I until the other day when I was browsing in YouTube looking for cinema urban legends.
I obviously started with the infamous Munchkin suicide from The Wizard of Oz and was amazed by how many people taped themselves examining the events a la Sherlock Holmes. Fortunately the whole thing is just a myth; it was proved that it's a bird and not a person. But this led me to feel sorry for the poor bird who was kept as an ornament inside a studio while they shot the movie (if studio bosses were mean to Judy Garland, I shudder thinking how they treated stock actors, extras and animals).
My search didn't lead me too far away from Emerald City because it was in 1939 when the American Humane Association began monitoring how animals were treated after a controversial
sequence in Jesse James where a horse was killed after falling off a cliff.
The horses were blindfolded (made me wonder about the poor horse in Gone With the Wind's burning of Atlanta) and when one passed away he was simply replaced by a new one (sums up the early film era huh?), incredibly even more animals died in the making of this movie and going back in history there's a large record of inhuman treatment onscreen (Thomas Edison was notorious for this).
Fortunately things have changed since (except in Lars von Trier land but that's another story...) and now all movies featuring animals have an AHA representative to make sure they stick to the rules. I guess 1939 was more significant in film history than just for the quality of the movies, but for the changes being made inside the industry.
Oh and no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post.