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Directors: Frank Sherman & George Stallings
Release Date: March 31, 1933
Stars: Tom and Jerry
The bird finally manages to drop the baby at Tom & Jerry’s doorstep. They take the baby in, but he turns out to be a tough brat, kicking everybody’s face in, and being a complete nuisance, while Tom and Jerry try to solve a jig-saw puzzle. At one point the brat gets hold of a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking almost everything in the house, including the clothes on Jerry’s tattoo, until Tom saves the day. In the end the stork incomprehensibly returns and takes the baby away.
Vacuum cleaners were still a luxury in the 1930’s, and this cartoon may contain the first animated gags on this domestic device.
Watch ‘Puzzled Pals’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘Puzzled Pals’ is available on the DVD ‘The Complete Animated Adventures of Van Beuren Studio’s Tom and Jerry’
Release Date: November 26, 1932
Stars: Flip the Frog
The short starts very well with Flip as a newspaper boy facing a lot of bad luck destroying his trade. Broke, he sits down on the street to worry. Luckily a woman offers him a dollar if he minds her big-nosed baby. The rest of the cartoon is devoted to Flip’s troubles with the baby, which start immediately when the baby swallows the coin. Thus Flip conjures an unhealthy plan to retrieve it from the baby’s mouth with a fishing rod (!). While Flip sets out to get one, the baby swallows a potion which makes the little fellow strong…
Like ‘The Goal Rush‘, ‘Nurse Maid’ is as gag rich as it is unfunny. Luckily, Carl Stalling’s music is very inspired, following the action so closely that most of the tunes are reduced to snippets (for example, when during a chase a Scotchman is encountered, Stalling inserts a few bars of a Scottish tune before resuming the chase music). In fact, the cartoon is recommended for Stalling’s music only, which is a marvel to listen to.
Watch ‘Nurse Maid’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘Nurse Maid’ is available on the DVD ‘Cartoons That Time Forgot – The Ub Iwerks Collection Vol. 2’
Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: May 20, 1932
Stars: Ethel Merman, Betty Boop, Bimbo
The cartoon opens with Betty Boop being a baby sitter in a park where Bimbo is a park warden. Bimbo doesn’t try to hide his lust, panting in front of our female hero. To be with Betty, Bimbo kicks off the baby-carriage. The baby falls into the water, steals a hot dog and plays with a fountain. When he returns to the loving couple, it’s night already. Enter Ethel Merman. At the end cartoon there’s some strange sequence with a chicken hatching three eggs, and the chicks being followed by a cat.
Unfortunately, this scene cannot rescue the short, and the cartoon remains completely forgettable.
Watch ‘Let me Call you Sweetheart’ yourself and tell me what you think:
‘Let me Call you Sweetheart’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’
Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: October 10, 1931
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo
Nevertheless, he does abandon the mischievous little brat and goes to Betty’s house to skip rope. However, Aloysius sucks them back into his own house, using a particularly powerful vacuum cleaner.
Aloysius is seen smoking a cigar and reading the paper, not unlike Baby Herman in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?‘ (1987). The cartoon establishes Bimbo and Betty as lovers, but it doesn’t make much sense, and its gags feel random and misguided.
‘Minding the Baby’ was the last cartoon featuring Betty with dog ears. in her next cartoon ‘Mask-A-Raid‘ she became fully human.
Watch ‘Minding the Baby’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Talkartoon No. 25
To the previous Talkartoon: Bimbo’s Express
To the next Talkartoon: In the Shade of the Old Apple Sauce
‘Minding the Baby’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’
Director: John Lasseter
Release Date: August 1988
After ‘Luxo Jr.‘ ‘Tin Toy’ is the most important of the early Pixar shorts.
Not only did it win an Academy Award, being the first computer animated film to do so, it was also the source of inspiration to the first computer animated feature length film, ‘Toy Story’ (1995). Like ‘Toy Story’ it explores the idea of toys being alive.
The short focuses on a little tin one man band toy, who encounters a monstrous baby, much to its dismay. The baby, indeed, looks terribly ugly. It’s an early attempt at the human form, and although it’s animated surprisingly well, it’s not really a success. Being a giant monster in the eyes of the toy, however, the ugly design does succeed. So, although ‘Tin Toy’ demonstrates it was maybe a little too early for the human form, its brave attempt showed the way for much more to come.
Apart from that, it’s a splendid little story, much more elaborate than Pixar’s earlier two films, and perfect in its execution. An excellent example is the scene in which the tin toy flees under the couch, only to discover numerous other toys hiding in fear. This scene is a masterstroke, as it perfectly explains how toys get hidden away far under couches and beds, like they somehow do in real life.
In the short time span the tin toy goes from emotions of hopeful anticipation to dismay and fear, turning into surprise, pity and finally proud stubborness. These emotions are completely convincing and prove that computer animation was perfectly able to tell a moving story. Now the company’s fulfilling of their dream of an animated feature would not be far away anymore.
Watch ‘Tin Toy’ yourself and tell me what you think:
Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: July 3, 1942
Stars: Popeye, Olive Oyl, Li’l Swee’Pea
Olive has brought li’l Swee’Pea with her. The baby wants to have a battleship en climbs aboard the cruiser. Popeye has a hard time catching him again.
The result is a cartoon of great comedy and excellent timing. The action includes a musical number in which Popeye is clobbered by a canon. Like in the previous Popeye cartoon, ‘Many Tanks’, Popeye’s design switches between old and new.
Watch ‘Baby wants a Bottleship’ yourself and tell me what you think:
Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: December 25, 1943
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Meathead
Tom only reluctantly cooperates, until he discovers the milk bottle. Jerry mocks him and warns three alley cats of Tom’s baby behavior. They mock him too, all too more violently, which leads to a frantic samba finale in which the little cat does a great Carmen Miranda impersonation, singing her hit song ‘Mamãe eu quero’ from the film ‘Down Argentine Way’ (1940).
Tom’s friends, the red cat from ‘Sufferin’ Cats‘, Meathead (in his debut) and a little cat, would reunite only seven years later in ‘Saturday Evening Puss‘ (1950). Apart from the finale the greatest scene is when Jerry behaves like ‘she’ is caught naked in the bathroom of a doll house.
Watch ‘Baby Puss’ yourself and tell me what you think:
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Yankee Doodle Mouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Zoot Cat