You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘1935’ tag.

Director: Walter Lantz or Bill Nolan
Release Date: May 27, 1935
Stars: Oswald
Rating: 
Review:

Springtime Serenade © Walter Lantz‘Springtime Serenade’ features Oswald and his unnamed girlfriend among some cute furry animals.

They all believe spring has come, even though the old groundhog warns them for six more weeks of cold weather. After some joyous spring cleaning (what the &$#?!!), the groundhog turns out to be right after all.

This Cartune Classic is as cloying as it is unfunny. Tex Avery, who was an animator at Lantz’s at the time, would deal with cute furry animals such as these ten years later in ‘The Screwy Truant’ (1945).

Watch ‘Springtime Serenade’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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Director: David Hand
Release Date: April 13, 1935
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Mickey's Kangaroo © Walt DisneyIn ‘Mickey’s Kangaroo’ Mickey receives a kangaroo for a present.

Pluto grows jealous of the intruder and its little kid, which is expressed with side glances at the audience in extreme close ups, and through a tough and sneaky voice over by Don Brodie. This is a rather weak device to overcome Pluto’s silent character. While Pluto tries to get rid of the little kangaroo, Mickey gets beaten up by mama kangaroo, but he keeps laughing.

As Jim Korkis reveals in ‘The Book of Mouse‘, ‘Mickey’s Kangaroo’ surprisingly is a film based on a true story. In 1934 Walt Disney got two wallabies as a present from Australian wine maker Leo Buring. By the time they arrived at the studio, the two marsupials had given birth to a child. The three wallabies were kept in a pen outside the studio department.

‘Mickey’s Kangaroo’ became Mickey’s last cartoon in black and white, being released even after ‘The Band Concert‘, Mickey’s first one in color. Unfortunately, it’s not a very funny goodbye to the black and white era. Nevertheless, its story line would be reused in ‘Mickey’s Elephant‘ (1936).

Watch ‘Mickey’s Kangaroo’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 75
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Service Station
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Garden

Director: David Hand
Release Date:
January 19, 1935
Stars:
Mickey Mouse
Rating:

Review:

Mickey's Man Friday © Walt DisneyLike in ‘The Castaway‘ (1932), Mickey has been shipwrecked, and he’s washed ashore at a tropical island full of cannibals.

When the cannibals try to cook a young native, Mickey scares them away in order to rescue the poor fellow. He then adopts this young native and they build a fort together, which they finish just in time, before the cannibals return to attack them. These eventually manage to overrun Mickey’s defense, and Mickey and the native flee on a self made ‘ship’.

Even when compared to Disney’s two other embarrassing cartoons about cannibals (the Silly Symphony ‘Cannibal Capers‘ (1930) and ‘Trader Mickey‘ (1932, curiously also directed by David Hand), the depiction of natives in ‘Mickey’s Man Friday’ is backward and humiliating. Mickey’s man Friday uses his feet more than his hands and appears to be more closely related to apes than to man. This is so sickening to watch that this is one of the very rare cartoons of which I feel that they could have remained under the rug, despite the fast and clever ‘invention gags’ featured in this cartoon, which foreshadow comparable gags in ‘The Flintstones’.

Watch ‘Mickey’s Man Friday’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 72
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Two-Gun Mickey
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Band Concert

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: May 11, 1935
Rating:
★★★
Review:

Water Babies © Walt Disney‘Water Babies’ is sugary cute, contains a lot of repetitive animation and is one of those Silly Symphonies obsessed with babies and their bare behinds (other examples are ‘Lullaby Land’ (1933) and ‘Wynken, Blynken and Nod’ (1938)).

There is not much of a story either: the sexless water babies wake up, make fun and go to bed again (apparently a day only lasts seven minutes in their world).

And yet, this is undoubtedly one of Disney’s most impressive efforts of the era. It feels like a showcase cartoon of the Disney studio, excelling in lush pictures, great effect animation and beautiful theme music by Leigh Harline. Especially the opening scene (dawn) and the last shot (night) are stunningly beautiful. The Disney staff had reached yet another peak, and more was still to come.

‘Water Babies’ itself at least must have been a success, for it was followed by the similar ‘Merbabies’ in 1938, featuring more or less girl characters instead of the boy-like babies in ‘Water Babies’.

Watch ‘Water Babies’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Silly Symphony No.52
To the previous Silly Symphony: The Robber Kitten
To the next Silly Symphony: The Cookie Carnival

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: October 5, 1935
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Music Land © Walt DisneyIn ‘Music Land’ a young violin falls in love with a young saxophone, much to the disapproval of their parents, the queen of ‘The Land of Symphony’ and the king of ‘The Isle of Jazz, respectively, whose realms are separated by the ‘Sea of Discord’.

When the young saxophone is imprisoned, the feud between the two very different nations leads to a war, in which the two young lovers are almost killed… The whole story is told through music, even the characters ‘speak’ with the sounds of the instruments they are. The complete score, by Leigh Harline, is a delight to listen to.

This reading of ‘Romeo and Juliette’ is one of the most inspired of all Silly Symphonies. The very idea of musical instruments ‘speaking’ in their own sound is brilliant. But there is much more. For example, when the saxophone prince is locked up, he’s imprisoned in a metronome and when he writes a letter to his father (a caricature of bandleader Paul Whiteman, ‘the king of jazz’) he does this in staff-notation!

The complete design of the cartoon is delightful. The backgrounds are particularly beautiful, rendering a totally convincing fantasy world, in which the cartoon develops as if it were an age-old story. The concept of a battle between classical music and jazz was a topical one in the 1930s, when jazz was still regarded by many as devilish music and a threat to ‘high culture’. Nevertheless, during the second half of the 1930s jazz gradually became a respected genre, as exemplified by Benny Goodman’s concert in Carnegie Hall in 1938.

Watch ‘Music Land’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Silly Symphony No. 55
To the previous Silly Symphony: Who Killed Cock Robin?
To the next Silly Symphony: Three Orphan Kittens

Director: Ben Sharpsteen
Release Date: May 25, 1935
Rating: ★★½
Review:

The Cookie Carnival © Walt DisneyOf all Silly Symphonies this one is particularly silly. The very idea of a cookie land is as original as it is looney.

Yet, the cartoon is literally sugary, not funny. The story, about a Charlie Chaplin-like tramp (voiced by Pinto Colvig) making a poor lonesome girl queen of the parade, is pure sentimental melodrama. Moreover, the characters speak in operetta-like recitatives and when the girl, having become queen, has to choose a king the cartoon shifts to a tiresome medley of song-and-dance-routines.

Nevertheless, the art direction of this Silly Symphony is stunning and its backgrounds lush and beautiful, making this one of the most impressive cartoons of the era. The girl is quite beautifully animated by Gram Natwick, the man who had created Betty Boop five years earlier, and who had joined Disney in 1934. After her transformation into a carnival queen, the girl doesn’t resemble a cookie at all, but she is pictured and animated as a real girl. Natwick would later be an animator on Snow White in ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937), and it’s as if the cookie girl was Natwick’s exercise for the real thing.

Notice the contrast between the sissy Angelic Cakes and the fun-loving Devil Cakes, whose theme music is jazz (the most ‘evil’ music of the era).

Watch ‘The Cookie Carnival’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Silly Symphony No. 53
To the previous Silly Symphony: Water Babies
To the next Silly Symphony: Who Killed Cock Robin?

Director: Ben Sharpsteen
Release Date: September 28, 1935
Stars: Donald Duck, Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

On Ice © Walt DisneyOn Ice is the first of Disney’s ‘ensemble cartoons’.

Everyone is in it: Mickey, Minnie (in her color debut), Donald, Goofy, Pluto and even, albeit very briefly, Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow. ‘On Ice’ introduces two story ideas that would be used again much later: Pluto’s problems on ice in ‘Bambi’ (1942) and the idea of skating near a waterfall in the ‘Once upon a Wintertime’ sequence of ‘Melody Time’ (1948), although this latter idea first appears in the Popeye cartoon ‘Season’s Greetinks!‘ from 1933.

Apart from this, ‘On Ice’ has been very important in the development of Goofy. He’s been completely restyled, has more body to his looks and a much more distinct personality. All these important improvements on the character are attributed to Art Babbitt, one of the greatest animators of all time. Goofy sings ‘The world owes me a living’ from ‘The grasshopper and the ants’ (1934). The song naturally becomes his theme song. No wonder, for the grasshopper and Goofy share the same voice: that of Pinto Colvig. Also of note is Goofy’s original fishing style, using chew to catch fish.

Watch ‘On Ice’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 79
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Pluto’s Judgement Day
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Polo Team

Director: Ben Sharpsteen
Release Date: August 3, 1935
Stars: Clarabelle Cow, Donald Duck, Goofy, Mickey Mouse
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Mickey's Fire Brigade © Walt Disney‘Mickey’s Fire Brigade’ is the second of the classic trio cartoons featuring Mickey, Donald and Goofy, and the first of its kind in color.

When one compares this cartoon to the similar ‘The Fire Fighters’ from 1930, one can see what stunning progress the Disney studio had made in a mere five years: the backgrounds, the camera angles, the character animation, the effect animation: everything has improved considerably.

What’s more, its gags are faster, more clever and better constructed, and they build up to a wonderful finale. Among the numerous brilliant ideas are a burning title card, water splashing against ‘the camera’ and a bathing Clarabelle Cow who is not amused when saved by our heroes.

This cartoon is both Goofy’s first color appearance as the last time he’s seen in the design he got in ‘The Whoopee Party’ about three years before. In this film he’s got a particularly goofy cuckoo theme song, while some of the anthropomorphized flames play ‘who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’ from ‘Three Little Pigs‘ on the piano.

Watch ‘Mickey’s Fire Brigade’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 77
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Garden
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Pluto’s Judgement Day

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: July 13, 1935
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Mickey's Garden © Walt Disney‘Mickey’s Garden’ is Mickey’s second color cartoon (after ‘The Band Concert‘).

It’s also Pluto’s first: he passes the transition into color fluently, getting his typical orange color we’re all familiar with now.

Mickey and Pluto are in the garden trying to kill a number of insects eating Mickey’s crop. When Mickey accidentally sprays himself with bug poison he starts to hallucinate (the transition to the dreamworld is particularly psychedelic: everything, including the background becomes unsteady and wobbly). He dreams that all plants and bugs have grown. This leads to some imaginative scenes. The bugs are not very lifelike, though. The animators even make a weird mistake by giving a particularly evil-looking beetle eight legs instead of six.

Watch ‘Mickey’s Garden’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 76
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Kangaroo
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Fire Brigade

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: February 23, 1935
Stars: Clarabelle Cow, Donald Duck, Horace Horsecollar, Mickey Mouse
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

The Band Concert © Walt DisneyAlmost three years after ‘Flowers and Trees’ Mickey finally made the step to color, and it’s probably because of this that ‘The Band Concert’ has such a Silly Symphony-like feel to it.

In 1935 the concept of a concert cartoon was already an old one (Mickey’s first was the ‘Barnyard Concert’ from 1930), but it finds the peak of perfection in this one.

Likewise, the use of Gioachino Rossini’s ‘overture Wilhelm Tell’ and ‘Turkey in the Straw’ in cartoons was far from new, but who would have thought that the two tunes would fit together so perfectly? The overture is played inside-out culminating in the storm sequence which brings forth a tornado. That’s how it feels, Mickey is not only conducting the storm music but even the real storm itself!

Notwithstanding the cartoon being a Mickey Mouse showcase, it’s Donald Duck who is stealing the show, like he did in the two previous Mickey Mouse cartoons he appeared in: ‘Orphan’s Benefit‘ and ‘The Dognapper‘. Being the only character in the cartoon born in color, Donald makes the transition from black-and-white to color naturally. Mickey and the other characters, on the other hand, still have a strong black-and-white feeling in their design and are less fitting in the bright world of color.

During Mickey’s concert, Donald produces an unending supply of flutes out of nothing, playing ‘Turkey in the Straw’ right through Rossini’s music (this ability of bringing forth material from out of nowhere was a capability that Donald would soon lose, but it would become a trademark of Bugs Bunny several years later). It’s a bitter irony that it’s this tune, ‘Turkey in the Straw’, which signals Mickey’s demise, because it was the same tune that made Mickey a star in the first place.

Nevertheless, ‘The Band Concert’ is without doubt Mickey’s best concert cartoon, arguably his best cartoon since ‘Steamboat Willie‘ and certainly one of the most perfect animated cartoons ever made.

Watch ‘The Band Concert’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 73
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Man Friday
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Service Station

Director: David Hand
Release Date:
April 20, 1935
Rating:

Review:

The Robber Kitten © Walt Disney‘The Robber Kitten’ is one of the more annoying entries in the Silly Symphony series.

Being a Silly Symphony, its animation is top notch, especially the character animation of the little rascal Ambrose (or ‘Butch’ as he prefers to be called) and the experienced robber Dirty Bill. But, the story is slow-paced, childish and dripping with morality.

The setting is vague and pretty unconvincing: Bill is clad in a medieval Robin Hood-like costume, while Ambrose is clad in 17th century fashion. A much sillier world as that of ‘The Cookie Carnival’ was brought with much more bravado.

All too typical for the Silly Symphonies of the mid thirties, ‘The Robber Kitten’ is nothing more than beautifully animated pulp.

Watch ‘The Robber Kitten’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Silly Symphony No. 51
To the previous Silly Symphony: The Golden Touch
To the next Silly Symphony: Water Babies

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