Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: October 15, 1943
Stars: Figaro, Cleo
Figaro and Cleo, the two animal sidekicks from ‘Pinocchio’ (1940) star in this short, which is Disney’s first spin-off cartoon from a feature film (apart from some propaganda shorts).
As J.B. Kaufman reveals in his insightful book ‘Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic’, this short even features some left over animation that didn’t make into Disney’s second feature film.
In ‘Figaro and Cleo’ the two animals are propelled into 20th century America and live in a mansion that’s kept clean by the Mammy Two-shoes-like character from ‘Three Orphan Kittens‘ (1935) and ‘Pantry Pirate‘ (1940). When Figaro doesn’t get his milk for punishment for his endearing misbehavior, he tries to capture the female fish Cleo, who actually seems to be in love with Figaro.
First Cleo is saved by Mammy from Figaro’s clutches, but at the third attempt Figaro’s rescued by Mammy from drowning. In the end, the two are friends again, and Figaro gets his milk, after all.
It’s surprising that this very cute, but remarkably unfunny cartoon was directed by Jack Kinney, famous for his hilarious Goofy films. The sweet tone is set immediately, as the cartoon starts with a sugary song by Ned Washington and Leigh Harline, reminiscent of some 1930s entries.
This theme song would be used again in the two other Figaro cartoons. Besides these, Figaro would also appear in three Pluto cartoons: ‘First Aiders‘ (1944), ‘Cat Nap Pluto‘ (1948) and ‘Pluto’s Sweater‘ (1949).
Cleo, on the other hand, never appeared in a Disney short, again…
Watch ‘Figaro and Cleo’ yourself and tell me what you think: