100 Years Ago: Dinosaurs and Ape Men, Courtesy of Willis H. O'Brien

When we think of stop motion pioneer Willis H. O'Brien (born on this day in 1886), we think of KING KONG, for which he designed and produced all the effects shots. He, more than anyone, created the special-effects spectacle, in which the effects work was the real star of the show. But before KING KONG, before THE LOST WORLD, and when films were in their infancy, O'Brien made several experimental shorts for Thomas Edison. They are rougher, cruder - naturally - but his figures have life in them already, and they teem with lifelike movement, even though the situations are fantastic.

Here is one of O'Brien's best early stop motion features. He calls it a prehistoric tragedy. We're inclined to see the humor in it.