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Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: September 13, 1949
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Tom hallucinates he can breath underwater. At the bottom of the sea he encounters a mermouse, an evil swordfish and an even more evil octopus. Then he awakes, discovering thankfully that Jerry has rescued him and is reviving him.
Like the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon, ‘Heavenly Puss‘, ‘The Cat and the Mermouse’ is a dream cartoon, more relying on Tom and Jerry’s love for each other than on the hate-part of their relationship.
‘The Cat and the Mermouse’ is a very well executed cartoon. Tom’s under water joy is wonderfully animated, and the under water setting is pretty convincing. The mermouse is, of course, exactly like Jerry, and Hanna and Barbera succeed in transferring Tom & Jerry’s typical chase to an underwater setting.
Tom & Jerry would return to the sea in the Esther Williams feature ‘Dangerous When Wet’ (1953), where they, again, encounter a swordfish and an octopus.
Watch ‘The Cat and the Mermouse’ yourself and tell me what you think:
Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: October 28, 1931
Stars: Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
In ‘The Beach Party’ Mickey, Minnie, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar and Pluto go picnicking on the beach. All goes well, until an evil octopus ruins their picnic, and they all have to battle against him.
‘The Beach Party’ is one of four 1931 Mickey Mouse cartoons to feature no musical routine, at all. Clearly, the Disney studio grew more and more confident in telling stories instead of musical numbers. And rightfully so, because ‘The Beach Party’ shows that Disney studio was more capable than any other studio in telling a good gag-filled story leading to a great finale. These were a welcome replacement to the tiring song-and-dance-routines. And so, by 1932, the musical numbers had almost disappeared from the Mickey Mouse cartoons.
‘The Beach Party’ is the first of only two shorts in which Mickey, Minnie, Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar are presented as four close friends, the other one being ‘Camping Out’ from 1934. Their friendship would become common practice in Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse comics. In these Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar would become real personalities, something that never happened in the Mickey Mouse films. Indeed, soon after Mickey changed to color in 1935, Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar vanished from the screen, apart from an occasional cameo.
This short contains a gag in which Pluto encounters a crab, a gag that would be reused way more elaborate and much better in ‘Hawaiian Holiday’ six years later.
Watch ‘The Beach Party’ yourself and tell me what you think:
Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: May 23, 1930
Frolicking fish indeed. Even oysters, starfish and a lobster join in the dance routines, oh so typical of early Silly Symphonies. Nevertheless, this cartoon ends with some kind of story, when an evil octopus follows a small fish, who gets rid of the villain by dropping an anchor on him.
There’s not much to enjoy in ‘Frolicking Fish’ despite its merry premise. However, like ‘Autumn‘ this cartoon contains early and to many rivaling studios undoubtedly ‘unnecessary’ effect animation, this time loads and loads of bubbles.
It has entered animation history, however, by featuring the first example of ‘overlapping action’ in animation. Overlapping action acknowledges that different (body) parts move with different speeds. So one part can already start moving, before another comes to an end, and animation cycles can overlap each other in imperfect ways. This opposed to the then normal type of animation, which was based on poses, which led to straightforward animation cycles. This new type of animation was developed by animator Norm Ferguson. It was a milestone at that time, a piece of animation marveled at by Ferguson’s colleagues, including Walt Disney himself. It led to the development of full animation, which would slowly replace the ‘rubber hose animation’ of the early thirties.
Overlapping Action can be seen in the three fish dancing at 2:07. Compare it to the stiff stop-and-go movements of the fish musicians following this scene, and the difference may become clear.
Watch ‘Frolicking Fish’ yourself and tell me what you think: