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Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: September 23, 1949
In 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
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:
Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: December 10, 1949
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Meathead
‘Tennis Chumps’ is one of the most violent of all Tom & Jerry cartoons, and none of the three protagonists is sympathetic in it. It’s perhaps because of this that the humor of ‘Tennis Chumps’ never comes off, despite its fast timing and abundance of Tex Averyan gags.
The inspiration of the subject of ‘Tennis Chumps’ may have come from the otherwise very different Goofy short ‘Tennis Racquet‘ from four months earlier.
Watch ‘Tennis Chumps’ yourself and tell me what you think:
Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date: February 2, 1946
Stars: Bugs Bunny
Bugs Bunny, who’s watching the game, wearing an innocent straw head, boasts that he can beat the Gas-House Gorillas single-handedly, so he gets himself a game. Playing in every position he manages to win the ball game in this wild and hilariously funny cartoon.
Highlight among the many gags may be Bugs’s constant jabbering. Some of it was copied by Jones in ‘Rabbit Punch’ (1948). ‘Baseball Bugs’ reuses several gags from the Woody Woodpecker cartoon ‘The Screwball’ (1942), but with much better results, making it a classic, where ‘The Screwball’ was not.
Watch ‘Baseball Bugs’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 35
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hare Tonic
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Hare Remover
Director: Chuck Jones
Release Date: April 10, 1948
Stars: Bugs Bunny, The Crusher
The boxing game soon changes into a wrestling match with blackout gags, in which we only see round 37, 49, 73, 98 and 110. These blackout gags foreshadow the complete Roadrunner series. In the last one the champ uses a train in order to ride over Bugs, but then the film abruptly breaks, a revival of a gag Jones used in ‘My Favorite Duck’ (1942).
‘Rabbit Punch’ is one of the earliest cartoons in what we can call Chuck Jones’ mature style, which consolidated in 1949. Like in his earlier Bugs Bunny cartoons ‘Case of the Missing Hare’ (1942) and ‘Hare Conditioned‘ (1945), Jones uses his sense of grace and deftness to portray a particularly large, human opponent to Bugs. And like in those cartoons he does that with stunning ‘camera angles’ and a cinematic approach. Bugs is pretty suave in this cartoon, acting out complete terror in the final scene, only to appear in full control, after all.
This is Bugs Bunny cartoon No. 48
To the previous Bugs Bunny cartoon: A Feather in his Hare
To the next Bugs Bunny cartoon: Buccaneer Bunny
Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: September 21, 1945
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
‘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 Kinney
Release Date: October 9, 1942
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
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:
Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: April 13, 1932
Stars: Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Peg Leg Pete
Mickey is joining a cross country race that involves running, rowing and cycling (which is beautifully animated). His main opponent is a rather unrecognizable Peg Leg Pete, who looks like just a big mean cat without a peg leg.
‘Barnyard Olympics’ is a brilliant gag cartoon: it’s fast, consistent and exciting, and without doubt one of Mickey’s finest. It immediately starts with an excellent gag when a spectator suddenly discovers he’s being filmed and waves at ‘the camera’.
In a way ‘Barnyard Olympics’ marks Goofy’s debut. He’s not seen at all, but during a boxing match his characteristic laughter, provided by story man Pinto Colvig, can already be heard. In Mickey’s next film, ‘Mickey’s Revue’, Goofy would appear on the screen himself.
Watch ‘Barnyard Olympics’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 40
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Mad Dog
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Revue