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Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: January 5, 1951
Stars: Goofy
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Lion Down © Walt DisneyIn this short Goofy inhabits a house on the top floor of a large apartment block. He needs an extra tree for his hammock, so he fetches one from a forest nearby.

Unfortunately, he’s visited by the tree’s former owner, the mountain lion from the Donald Duck short ‘Lion Around’ (1950), and together they fight over the hammock.

The gag routine is laid out well, involving many ringings of doorbells and falls from great heights, resulting in an extraordinarily long falling sequence. However, the comedy is hampered by irritating vocal sounds by both Goofy and the mountain lion, and by a slightly sloppy timing. This is too bad, for a possibly very funny cartoon now only becomes average.

In 1952 the mountain lion would reappear again in the Goofy short ‘Father’s Lion’.

Watch ‘Lion Down’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: November 30, 1950
Stars: Goofy
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Hold That Pose © Walt DisneyThis cartoon starts with the opening shot of a tired Goofy dragging himself into his own home from ‘Goofy Gymnastics‘ from the previous year.

This time, however, the voice over advises Goofy to get a hobby, for example photography. This leads to several great photography gags, especially when Goofy tries to make pictures of a bear, which results in a long, fast and gag-packed chase sequence involving a funfair. It also reuses a gag involving a cab from ‘Baseball Bugs‘ (1946), showing Jack Kinney’s interest in the gag language of Disney’s rivals.

‘Hold that pose’ is one of Goofy’s funniest shorts, and certainly one of his best cartoons of the fifties.

Watch ‘Hold That Pose’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date:
 June 30, 1950
Stars:
 Goofy
Rating:
 ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Motor Mania © Walt DisneyIn this cartoon a particularly civilized type of Goofy, an “average man” called Mr. Walker, changes into a Mr. Hyde-like wildman called Mr. Wheeler, once he sits behind the wheel of his car.

‘Motor Mania’ is the only Goofy cartoon in which our hero is depicted as an unsympathetic and even evil character. But by now Goofy has lost all his former persona. He has changed into a random citizen, so it works very well.

‘Motor Mania’ forms another step in the evolution of Goofy into the American everyman. By now Goofy had replaced Donald Duck as representative of the American citizen. Donald Duck had been the average citizen in the forties, but the last few years his role had been diminished, evolving into a straight man for the antics of Chip ‘n Dale, the little bee and such. Jack Kinney’s Goofy took over, cumulating in the typical fifties everyman, George Geef, in ‘Cold War’ from the next year.

‘Motor mania’ is a quite disturbing film about road manners, it even becomes nightmarish when we watch cars bark at a helpless pedestrian. It is as moralistic as it is funny. And it remains somehow strikingly relevant today, making it an original classic within the Goofy series.

Watch ‘Motor Mania’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: September 23, 1949
Stars: Goofy
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Goofy Gymnastics © Walt DisneyIn this short Goofy orders some home training devices to improve his condition. All his attempts fail, of course, sometimes in surprisingly long and elaborate gags, involving great situation comedy. It’s this cartoon Roger Rabbit watches in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ from 1988.

Together with the previous ‘Tennis Racquet‘, Goofy Gymnastics’ is a transitional Goofy cartoon: it’s the first cartoon showing the restyled Goofy as an average American citizen. Unlike ‘Tennis Racquet’, however, there’s only one Goofy in this cartoon, who even sings his own theme song ‘The world owes me a living’ again. ‘Goofy Gymnastics’ marks the last time we see Goofy in his original hat, which he only puts on after changing into his gym costume. It’s also the last of the Goofy sports cartoons. The next year, the same tired Goofy gets the advise to get a hobby, in ‘Hold That Pose‘.

Like the earlier great sports cartoons it uses a posh voice over, who’s completely out of tune with Goofy’s antics with his home training gear. The action is a bit slow, however, and the animators make no attempts to synchronize their character’s lip movements with the now obligate Goofy vocalizations.

Watch ‘Goofy Gymnastics’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date:
 August 26, 1949
Stars:
 Goofy
Rating:
 ★★★★
Review:

Tennis Racquet © Walt DisneyAfter four years of working on feature films, Jack Kinney returns as a director of Goofy shorts to remain Goofy’s sole director until the series’ end in 1953.

Kinney’s first Goofy film in four years, ‘Tennis Racquet’ is a transitional film: together with the next Goofy short, ‘Goofy Gymnastics‘, it’s firmly rooted in the 1940′s Goofy tradition, being a sports cartoon, similar in content to ‘How to Play Football‘ (1944) and ‘Hockey Homicide‘ (1945). Moreover, in the first scene we hear one of the Goofy characters (the cartoon contains several of them) singing Goofy’s own theme song “the world owes me a living”, and in the end we can hear the typical Goofy yell, introduced in “The Art of Skiing” (1941). The short even features a slow motion gag, not seen since ‘How to swim‘ (1942).

On the other hand, it can also be seen as the first entry of Goofy’s second series, for the character has been completely redesigned. The next year this new, redesigned Goofy would turn into Mr. Geef, the everyman.

Like ‘How to Play Football’ and ‘Hockey Homicide’, ‘Tennis Racquet’ has no educational value: the cartoon consists of one frantic tennis match between two Goofy characters. It’s a fast and funny cartoon, full of silly gags. The highlight may be the running gag of the stoic gardener, who enters the game at several points, undisturbed by the frantic action around him.

Watch ‘Tennis Racquet’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=894ZXePM7bs

Director: Clyde Geronimi
Release Date: February 6, 1948
Stars: Goofy
Rating: ★★
Review:

The Big Wash © Walt DisneyIn ‘The Big Wash’ Goofy tries to wash his unwilling circus elephant Dolores (or Dolorious as he calls her).

‘The Big Wash’ was Clyde Geronimi’s last cartoon and his only one in the Goofy series. In the years to follow he would concentrate his directing skills on feature films, with the exception of two short specials, ‘Susie, the Little Blue Coupe’ (1952) and ‘The Story of Anyburg, U.S.A.’ (1957).

‘The Big Wash’ is not really a highlight in Geronimi’s career. Like ‘Foul Hunting‘ from the previous year, it uses the original Goofy character and Pinto Colvig’s voice, and, like in the former cartoon, this results in a slow, boring and remarkably old-fashioned film. The short is cute, but terribly unfunny, especially when compared to most other Goofy cartoons or contemporary entries from other studios.

‘The Big Wash’ was the last cartoon to feature the Goofy character as it was developed in the thirties. In his next cartoon, ‘Tennis Racquet‘, Goofy was not only once again voiceless, he was also redesigned, making him more fitting to the post-war era.

Watch ‘The Big Wash’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date:
 January 23, 1948
Stars: 
Goofy
Rating:
 ★★★★½
Review:

They're Off © Walt DisneyThey’re Off’ was the last of four Goofy cartoons directed by Jack Hannah, and the most Jack Kinney-like of them all.

In this cartoon we follow two Goofy characters who both bet on a horse race. One of them is a typical Hannah-style underdog, and decidedly a gay stereotype. The gay Goofy’s favorite, Old Moe, wins from the other Goofy’s favorite, star horse Snapshot, because the latter just can’t resist the camera.

In one frantic scene ‘They’re off’ uses footage from ‘How to Ride a Horse’ (1941), ‘Fantasia’ (the unicorns from the Pastoral Symphony sequence) and ‘Hockey Homicide‘ (1945).

Watch ‘They’re Off’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date:
 October 31, 1947
Stars: Goofy
Rating:
 ★★
Review:

Foul Hunting © Walt DisneyIn ‘Foul Hunting’ Goofy is hunting ducks, which all resemble Sonja from ‘Peter and the Wolf’ in ‘Make Mine Music’ (1946).

‘Foul Hunting’ is Jack Hannah’s third Goofy cartoon, and it is very different from his first two (‘A Knight for a Day‘ and ‘Double Dribble‘ from 1946)This cartoon returns to the original Goofy character, arguably unseen since ‘Baggage Buster’ from 1941. More surprisingly, Goofy suddenly has his voice back – apparently, Pinto Colvig had returned to Disney.

Unfortunately, it’s this voice that slows down the action, making the cartoon less funny than the voiceless entries and giving it a painfully old-fashioned appearance. After five years of cartoons with multiple Goofies, this return to the ‘real’ Goofy feels like a retrogression. Pinto Colvig would be Goofy’s voice again in the equally unfunny ‘The Big Wash‘ (1948).

Watch ‘Foul Hunting’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date:
 December 12, 1946
Stars:
Goofy
Rating: 
★★★★

Double Dribble © Walt DisneyIn ‘Double Dribble’ we’re watching a basketball game between home team U.U. and visiting team P.U. (which has only one fan).

‘Double Dribble’ is Jack Hannah’s second Goofy cartoon, and it uses the same format as his first, ‘A Knight for a Day‘ (1946) with equally fast and funny results. There’s a sports game with a lively narrator, typical for the Goofy shorts of the forties, but there’s also one, underdog-like character, whom we can follow throughout the picture, and to whom we can relate. In ‘A Knight for a Day’ it was Cedric, this time it’s a tiny Goofy, called Marathu, who makes the final and deciding score, turning the game in favor of ‘old P.U.’.

Like in ‘Hockey Homicide‘ (1945) the team members share names with Disney employees.

Watch ‘Double Dribble’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date:
 March 8, 1946
Stars:
 
Goofy
Rating:
 ★★★★★
Review:

A Knight For A Day © Walt Disney‘A Knight for a Day’ is one of four Goofy cartoons directed by Jack Hannah, while Goofy’s usual director, Jack Kinney, was busy working on feature films ‘Make Mine Music’ and ‘Fun and Fancy Free‘.

Hannah, who shares Kinney’s love for fast and nonsensical cartoons, adopts the use of a jabbering sports reporter-like voice over, but applies it to a medieval setting, with hilarious results. Unlike Kinney’s Goofy cartoons however, Hannah’s cartoon consists of a real story with identifiable characters, splitting Goofy’s personality into various different ones.

During a medieval tournament, Cedric, a young squire, has to replace his master, Sir Loinsteak, when he falls with his head on an anvil, blocking him out. He has to face the champion, Sir Cumference, an evil opponent, who rides a black horse, smokes cigars and has a shield of bricks. Cedric wins the tournament, however, earning kisses from the ‘beautiful’ princess Esmeralda, who is another Goofy-like character.

‘A Knight for a Day’ is a fast and fervid cartoon, which is over before you know it.

Watch ‘A Knight for a Day’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date:
 September 21, 1945
Stars:
 Goofy
Rating:
 ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Hockey Homicide © Walt Disney‘Hockey Homicide’ is an account of a frantic Ice Hockey Game between two teams, of which all players share names with Disney employees (while the referee is named after the cartoon’s director, Jack Kinney).

The cartoon is bursting with cartoon violence. For instance, there’s a hilarious running gag of two star players, Bertino and Ferguson, who, when they leave the penalty box, immediately start beating up each other, only to be send back into the penalty box again.

But the real treat of this fast and furious cartoon is its final sequence, when the crowd takes over and the cartoon runs totally haywire, even using non-related footage from ‘How to Play Football’ (1944), ‘How to Play Baseball‘ (1942), Victory Through Airpower (1943) and Monstro the Whale from ‘Pinocchio’ (1940), to add to the feeling of complete chaos.

‘Hockey Homicide’ must be one of the wildest, fastest and most violent cartoons Disney ever produced. Like earlier Goofy cartoons by Jack Kinney, it is clearly influenced by contemporary cartoons at Warner Brothers and MGM, and it has a genuine Tex Averyan spirit rarely seen outside the Goofy series.

With ‘Hockey Homicide’ the Goofy series reached its apex. More entertaining films were to follow, but none as wild and extreme as this one. After it Kinney was fully involved in feature films, only to return to the Goofy series again in 1949. By then the humor of Hollywood cartoons had toned down. In the meantime five Goofy cartoons were produced: four directed by Donald Duck-director Jack Hannah, and one by Clyde Geronimi.

Watch ‘Hockey Homicide’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date:
November 1, 1946
Stars: 
Donald Duck, Goofy
Rating:
 ★★½
Review:

Frank Duck Brings 'Em Back Alive © Walt Disney‘Frank Duck Brings ‘Em Back Alive’ is the fourth of five cartoons starring both Donald and Goofy. The coupling never was really successful, and ‘Frank Duck Brings ‘Em Back Alive’ is no exception. 

In this short Goofy is staged as some Tarzan-like wild man wearing sneakers. Donald Duck is himself as hunter ‘Frank Duck’, trying to capture the wild man. Their endless chase ends when they encounter a lion. The wild man escapes with Donald’s boat, leaving Donald leaping from tree to tree, followed by the lion. Iris out.

The comedy of ‘Frank Duck Brings ‘Em Back Alive’ does not work well, because Goofy is not really himself here. Maybe director Jack Hannah was inspired by the anonymous Goofies that crowded the Goofy films of the era, including some he directed himself. In any case, when the anonymous Goofy suddenly is reduced to one, something apparently goes wrong. Then we probably expect to watch the real Goofy again, something which does not happen in this cartoon. Instead, we watch a Goofy acting silly, but also outsmarting his hunter, just like Daffy Duck does at Warner Brothers. It just doesn’t feel right. It’s so out of character, it ruins the comedy.

‘Frank Duck Brings ‘Em Back Alive’ contains a very late occasion of Donald’s typical dance of anger, made famous by animator Dick Lundy in Donald’s second screen appearance, ‘Orphan’s Benefit‘ (1934). Donald showed this behavior often in his early career, but it had become rare by the 1940s.

Watch ‘Frank Duck Brings ‘Em Back Alive’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: July 30, 1943
Stars: Goofy, Pluto (cameo)
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Victory Vehicles © Walt Disney‘Victory Vehicles’ is the only entirely war-themed Goofy short (although the end of ‘How to be a Sailor’ (1944) refers to the war, too). It’s no army cartoon, however. Instead, the cartoon parodies propagandistic shorts of the time, using a patriotic voice over and dealing with the (real) problem of rubber shortage.

‘Victory Vehicles’ introduces various silly inventions that should replace the car as a form of transportation. The solution finally settles on the pogo-stick: “the answer to a nation’s needs”.

‘Victory Vehicles’ is a very enjoyable cartoon in its silly satire. It’s also a nice window to the shortage problems of World War II America. The film contains a very catchy theme song ‘hop on your pogo-stick’, and a short cameo by Pluto.

‘Victory Vehicles’ is an important landmark in the Goofy series, because it marks Goofy’s graduation from single character to the prototypical everyman. In this short various types of Goofies can be seen, including women and children. They are provided with different voice overs, emphasizing that every Goofy we see is a different one.

Of all evolutions of a cartoon star, this is the most remarkable one. The thirties Goof, with his all too recognizable character traits has been transformed into an everyman who could be anybody, and, at the same time, still be Goofy.

Other directors would return to the original Goofy in cartoons like ‘Foul Hunting‘ (Jack Hannah, 1947) and ‘The Big Wash‘ (Clyde Geronimi, 1948), but Jack Kinney would stick to the everyman Goofy, making the most hilarious cartoons with this character.

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: December 4, 1942
Stars: Goofy
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

How to Fish © Walt Disney

‘How to fish’ kicks off nonsensically when the narrator explains how astrology gives ‘man’ (Goofy) an urge to fish.

The cartoon consists of blackout gags involving various types of fishing, like angling and lake fishing. In the end Goofy manages to capture one fish, which turns out to be his own outboard motor.

‘How to Fish’ is one of Goofy’s less inspired sports cartoons, even though it’s pretty enjoyable. It is the first Goofy short to use oil background paintings. It contains one discontinuity incident: when he fishes himself into a tree, he shortly wears his socks again.

Watch ‘How To Fish’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: October 23, 1942
Stars: Goofy
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

How To Swim © Walt Disney

With ‘How To Swim’ director Jack Kinney really hit his stride. The film perfectly blends educational information with total nonsense.

The result is one of the best of Goofy’s ‘how to’ shorts, ‘How to swim’ starts off hilariously, when Goofy practices various strokes on a piano stool, unknowingly crossing the street while doing so. Other gags involve Goofy trying to change in a remarkably small beach locker and his attempts to bath in the surf.

The best part, however, is the diving sequence. Here, a great story device is introduced: the chart-like figure, borrowed from the educational shorts Disney made for the war effort at that time. The diving sequence also features the use of the ‘slow motion camera’, which was introduced in the ‘How to ride a horse’ sequence within ‘The reluctant Dragon’ (1941). The combination of the slow motion camera’s ridiculously elaborate animation and the perfection of the chart figure is deadly funny.

It’s characteristic for the high quality standards at the Disney Studio that even regular gag cartoons contain beautiful and convincing effect animation, like the tidal waves in ‘How to Swim’.

Watch ‘How To Swim’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: October 9, 1942
Stars: Goofy
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

The Olympic Champ © Walt Disney‘The Olympic Champ’ is Goofy’s fourth sports cartoon. Here, Goofy demonstrates the athletic sports of the Olympics: running, hurdles, pole vault jumping, hammer drawing and the decathlon.

Goofy has particular problems with the narrator in this short: he’s almost burned by the eternal flame while the narrator pompously chatters away, and he has to try to balance on a pole, while the narrator is reciting a poem.

‘The Olympic Champ’ is not the best of Goofy’s sports cartoons, but it is enjoyable in its successful blend of blackout gags and great animation.

Watch ‘The Olympic Champ’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: September 4, 1942
Stars: Goofy
Rating:  ★★★
Review:

How to Play Baseball © Walt Disney‘How to Play Baseball’ is the third of Goofy’s sport cartoons, and the first with a title beginning with ‘How to’ (following the ‘How to Ride a Horse’ sequence in ‘The Reluctant Dragon’ (1941).

The short features multiple Goofies to explain baseball, ending with an exciting finale of the World championship. The gags come fast and plenty, depicting a lot of nonsense. Nevertheless, the cartoon is not only funny, it’s also surprisingly educational.

In the years following ‘How to Play Baseball’ baseball would return to the animated screen in the Woody Woodpecker cartoon ‘The Screwball’ (1943) and in the Bugs Bunny cartoon ‘Baseball Bugs‘ (1944).

Watch ‘How To Play Baseball’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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