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Director: Unknown
Release Date: November 14, 1927
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Peg Leg Pete
Rating: ★★★½

The Ocean Hop © Walt DisneyOswald joins a plane race from New York to Paris (inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s flight on May 20-21 that year).

Oswald is introduced as the dark horse and enters the race disguised as a pantomime horse. One of his competitors is an early version of Peg Leg Pete. Pete is the obvious villain, gluing Oswald’s plane to the ground with chewing gum. Luckily, Oswald manages to make a new, rather improbable plane out of a dachshund and two balloons.

Meanwhile, Pete misleads all the other competitors by turning an absurdly high direction indicator. Somehow, Oswald isn’t misled and he and Pete compete to be the first. Pete shoots Oswald out of the air, but it’s Oswald who wins the day. What became of the falling dachshund, however, we’ll never know… [UPDATE: Thanks to David Gerstein we do know: see his comment for the cartoon’s lost end gag]

‘The Ocean Hop’ is a clear forerunner of ‘Plane Crazy‘ (1928), Mickey Mouse’s debut cartoon. Both were inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s historical transatlantic flight. Oswald’s cartoon is not as consistent as Mickey’s, however, and features less spectacular scenes. In one way the differences between the two cartoons show that Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks were constantly improving themselves even at this early stage of their careers.

Watch ‘The Ocean Hop’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 6
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: All Wet
To the next surviving Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Empty Socks

Director: Unknown
Release Date: October 31, 1927
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Rating: ★★★★

All Wet © Walt DisneyIn his fifth film Oswald is a hot dog vendor at the beach.

At one point his girlfriend drops by, only to give him the cold shoulder, so Oswald pretends to be a lifeguard. The girl in turn pretends to drown, but then she really get suck into the ocean by a giant fish. Oswald comes to the rescue and earns a passionate kiss.

Although this film still contains some stiff animation and designs from the early 1920s (for example the dog customer), most of the animation is very flexible and lively, especially that of Oswald and the sea. Many of the hot dog gags were reused in the Mickey short ‘The Karnival Kid‘ (1929).

Watch ‘All Wet’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 5
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Great Guns
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: The Ocean Hop

Director: Unknown
Release Date: October 17, 1927
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Rating: ★★★

Great Guns © Walt DisneyWar has broken out. This leads to a surprisingly cheerful crowd of people happily volunteering to be a soldier. As if The Great War had never happened.

Oswald volunteers too, after a long goodbye to his girlfriend. In the trenches, he’s still kissing her portrait, until it is bombed by a mouse. This leads to an air battle between Oswald and the little rodent, which ends with Oswald beating up the mice, until he’s confronted by an angry officer. Oswald and the officer get into a bombing duel, in which Oswald uses an elephant, which explodes. In the end even Oswald himself is literally blown to pieces, but he’s revived by his girlfriend who’s a red cross nurse.

The depiction of war in this cartoon is surprisingly positive, and there are a lot of gags. Real danger is never felt, but the cartoon does feature some startling images of huge cannons swooping into the camera. Four years later Hugh Harman, who did some of the animation, would reuse elements of ‘Great Guns’ in his own World War I film ‘Bosko the Doughboy‘ (1931).

Watch ‘Great Guns’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 4
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: The Mechanical Cow
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: All Wet

Director: Unknown
Release Date: October 3, 1927
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Rating: ★★★

The Mechanical Cow © Walt DisneyIn his fifth film Oswald has a mechanical cow to deliver milk with.

When his girlfriend gets kidnapped by a mob of gangsters, the cow helps him to rescue her. The gangsters come to a surprisingly cruel end, when they fall off a cliff and are eaten by sharks.

The cow behaves anything but mechanical. On the contrary, it is very rubbery, and even lazy and sleepy in the first scene, and its animation is not different from that of any of the other characters.

Watch ‘The Mechanical Cow’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 3
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Oh, Teacher
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Great Guns

Director: Walt Disney
Release Date:
July 25, 1927
Lois Hardwick (Alice)

Still from 'Alice the Whaler' featuring Alice and some animals dancing on a ship‘Alice the Whaler’ was one of the last of the Alice Comedies. It was only followed by two other titles, before Alice was replaced by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. It features Lois Hardwick as Alice, who had replaced Margie Gay at the end of 1926.

‘Alice the Whaler’ is a cartoon that consists of rather unrelated gags. This time Alice and the gang are on a ship, looking for whales. In this cartoon both Disney’s character designs as the flexible animation have matured. Gone are the goggly eyes, and even one character (a cat cook) is wearing Mickey Mouse-type gloves. Also starring is a small mouse that peels potatoes just the way Mickey would do a year later in ‘Steamboat Willie‘.

Alice has almost disappeared from the screen, by now: she’s visible in four shots only, two total shots of the ships and two close ups that contain no animation whatsoever. Indeed, in his next series, Walt Disney would abandon live action altogether, relying on animation only, which by now already was the best in the business.

Watch ‘Alice the Whaler’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Alice the Whaler’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities’

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