Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: March 3, 1950
Rating: ★★
Review:

The Brave Engineer © Walt DisneyAfter the Walt Disney studios quit its package features, it started to release ‘specials’ again, one-shot cartoons featuring no recurring character.

These specials were essentially the successors of the Silly Symphonies, and a few were made during World War II. However, most of them were made in the fifties, if not necessarily to advance animation, then certainly to keep animators busy between feature films. Unfortunately, almost none of these shorts match the inventiveness of the Silly Symphonies or were really successful (the Academy Award winning ‘Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom’ (1953) is the prime exception).

For example, ‘The Brave engineer’, the first special from the fifties, looks like it has been a left-over from the compilation feature ‘Melody Time‘ (1948). Like this feature’s sequences ‘The Legend of Johnny Appleseed‘ and ‘Pecos Bill‘, it’s a half sung and half narrated tall-tale based on a poem about a legendary American hero from the 19th century.

This time comedian Jerry Colonna sings and tells the story of Casey Jones, a train engineer, a character who really existed. In the cartoon Casey desperately tries to deliver the western mail on time. On the way he encounters all the cliches featured in westerns involving trains: a damsel on the rails, train robbers and a villain who blows up a bridge. The ride ends in a clash with another train. Unlike the real Casey Jones, who died in the crash, the cartoon Casey survives and delivers the mail on time, almost…

Despite the relatively fast pace and many corny gags, the story never really takes off. The viewer somehow never gets involved in the story and remains uninterested to the end.

Watch ‘The Brave Engineer’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘The Brave Engineer’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities’

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