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Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: June 28, 1940
Stars: Pluto, Butch
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Bone Trouble © Walt DisneyPluto’s solo career had a slow start: after his first own cartoon, ‘Pluto’s Quin-puplets’ our favorite mutt had to wait three more years for a second cartoon.

Compared to this first, cute cartoon, ‘Bone Trouble’ is an altogether different short: it’s a real exponent of the chase cartoon era: when Pluto steals a bone from vicious neighbor dog Butch, a chase soon follows into a surprisingly empty carnival. Most of the gags originate in Pluto’s adventures in a hall of mirrors. This is a wonderful place, having mirrors that are able to reflect Pluto as an alligator, a camel, an ape, a kangaroo and a seal.

Unlike many of the later Pluto shorts, ‘Bone Trouble’ is a genuine gag cartoon, greatly helped by the carnival atmosphere, and an excellent musical score. The short introduces Butch the bulldog. Butch was not the first vicious bulldog on the animated screen (for example, there’s one in the Betty Boop cartoon ‘You’re Not Built That Way’ from 1936), but he is the prototype of all subsequent animated bulldogs, most notably Spike, who made his debut in the Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘Dog Trouble’ (1942). Why in cartoons Bulldogs were always portrayed as bullies, we’ll never know, as real bulldogs look hardly like their cartoon counterparts.

‘Bone Trouble’ is also noteworthy for being the cartoon in which Jack Kinney’s makes his direction debut. Kinney became the studio’s best gag director, which he showed in the Goofy series, which in 1940 became his own. Kinney directed only one other Pluto cartoon: ‘Cold Storage‘ from 1951, which is even better than ‘Bone Trouble’.

Butch, meanwhile, would return in five other Pluto cartoons, ‘T-Bone for Two‘ (1942), ‘Canine Casanova’ (1945), ‘Pluto’s Kid Brother‘ (1946), ‘Pluto’s Purchase’ (1948) and ‘Pluto’s Heart Throb‘ (1950).

Watch ‘Bone trouble’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 2
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Pluto’s Quin-Puplets
To the next Pluto cartoon: Pantry Pirate

‘Bone Trouble’ is available on the DVD set ‘The Complete Pluto Volume One’

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Director: Clyde Geronimi
Release Date: August 14, 1942
Stars: Pluto, Butch
Rating: ★★½
Review:

T-Bone for Two © Walt Disney‘T-Bone for Two’ is one of those Clyde Geronimi directed Pluto shorts about bones (other examples are ‘The Sleep Walker‘ and ‘Pluto at the Zoo‘ from the same year). It’s also Pluto’s second attempt to get a bone from vicious bulldog Butch, after ‘Bone Trouble‘ from 1940.

This time Pluto gets the bone by making Butch think he has buried a gigantic bone somewhere else. The second half is devoted to Pluto’s problems with a car horn. The horn make him lose his bone to Butch again, but he regains it with it, too.

Despite some great comedy (Pluto’s fake steps to his supposed hiding place and Butch’s flight into the air), Clyde Geronimi’s interplay between Pluto and Butch is less successful than Jack Kinney’s was in ‘Bone Trouble’. The cartoon never becomes really funny, resulting in one of the weaker entries in the Pluto series.

Watch ‘T-Bone for Two’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 8
To the previous Pluto cartoon: The Sleep Walker
To the next Pluto cartoon: Pluto at the Zoo

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date:
 April 7, 1950
Stars:
 Pluto, Butch, Dinah
Rating:
 ★★★★½
Review:

Wonder Dog © Walt DisneyIn ‘Wonder Dog’ Pluto tries to impress Dinah, but she’s in love with ‘Prince, the wonder dog’, a circus dog featured on a poster.

Pluto imagines himself to be a circus dog too, but his attempts all fail, much to the amusement of a watching Butch. When Pluto nags Butch, and the latter chases him, he accidentally and unwillingly turns into the acrobat he wanted to be, gaining Dinah’s love once more.

‘Wonder Dog’ is a wonderful cartoon, with some great comedy. Its story, by Bill Peet & Milt Banta, has a surprisingly natural flow, without becoming cliche. Like ‘Pluto’s Heart Throb‘ from earlier that year it illustrates that the trio of Pluto, Dinah and Butch could inspire some excellent comedy. Unfortunately, ‘Wonder Dog’ marks Dinah’s last screen appearance, after a mere four cartoons.

Watch ‘Wonder Dog’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 35
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Pluto and the Gopher
To the next Pluto cartoon: Primitive Pluto

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date:
 January 6, 1950
Stars:
 Pluto, Butch, Dinah
Rating:
 ★★★★
Review:

Pluto's Heart Throb © Walt DisneyIt seems that at the end of the Pluto series, the animators had found new inspiration, for most of Pluto’s best cartoons were made in the series’ last two yearsIn fact, almost every Pluto cartoon from 1950/1951, Pluto’s last two solo years, is a winner.

‘Pluto’s Heart Throb’ is a good example. In this rather weird short both Butch an Pluto fall in love with Dinah (whom we hadn’t seen since ‘In Dutch‘ from 1946). They’re acting like rivals, but they have to pretend to be friends when she’s watching. When Pluto saves Dinah from drowning, he gains her love and Butch makes a sad retreat.

Penned by Roy Williams, one of the most original of the Disney story men, this short is stuffed with silly ideas, starting with the silly little pink dog cupid, who makes Pluto and Dinah fall in love with each other. The animation is extremely flexible, with wonderful expressions on all three characters. The excellent silent comedy is further enhanced by a very lively score. In all, ‘Pluto’s Heart Throb’ is a great improvement on the earlier in-love-with-Dinah-cartoon: ‘Canine Casanova’ from 1945.

Watch ‘Pluto’s Heart Throb’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 33
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Sheep Dog
To the next Pluto cartoon: Pluto and the Gopher

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: October 1, 1949
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Spike & Tyke
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Love That Pup © MGMTom’s chases of Jerry disturb Spike’s son Tyke. If Tom is at it again, Spike “will tear him apart”. Needless to say, Jerry takes advantage of this situation.

‘Love that pup’ is one of the most hilarious Tom & Jerry cartoons. The gags come in fast and plenty, and Scott Bradley’s music is particularly inspired, perfectly matching the fast action. Highlight may be the running gag involving Tom rushing into several garden tools.

‘Love That Pup’ marks Tyke’s debut. He has no name, yet. But then again, even Spike is still called Butch in this cartoon. Spike and Tyke would become Tom and Jerry regulars in the fifties, even starring two films without the cat and the mouse in 1957.

Watch ‘Love That Pup’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 44
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Cat and the Mermouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Jerry’s Diary

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: July 17, 1948
Stars: Tom & Jerry, Spike
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

The Truce Hurts © MGM‘The Truce Hurts’ starts with a chase involving Jerry, Tom and Spike (called Butch in this cartoon).

The chase ends in a triple fight, until Spike interrupts and they all sign a peace treaty. The treaty works until the three discover a giant steak dropped from a van. When they have to share it, their greediness and egotism win, and they start to fight again at the same spot and with the same tools as where they’d left them before.

‘The Truce Hurts’ is one of the most marvelous Tom and Jerry cartoons. Not only is the idea original, it has a perfect story that is wonderfully executed with great character animation of the three foes behaving like pals.

Watch an excerpt from ‘The Truce Hurts’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 35
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Kitty Foiled
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Old Rockin’ Chair Tom

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: 
February 2, 1947
Stars:
 Pluto, Butch, The Little Turtle
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Pluto's Housewarming © Walt DisneyIn ‘Pluto’s Housewarming’ Pluto’s got a new and very fancy home at the beach, but even before he moves in, it’s occupied by the little turtle from ‘Canine Patrol‘ (1945).

Pluto manages to dispose of the little fellow, but then bulldog Butch squats his house. Butch chases Pluto away, but he himself is chased away by the little turtle. In return, Pluto allows the little fellow to live in his mansion, too.

‘Pluto’s Housewarming’ is one of those numerous Pluto cartoons from the forties in which Pluto befriends a little animal, which he doesn’t like at first. The addition of Butch, however, brings in a new dimension. Nevertheless, this is cartoon is still rather cute than funny.

The little turtle would reappear in the equally cute and unfunny ‘Pluto’s Surprise Package‘ from 1949.

Watch ‘Pluto’s Housewarming’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 20
To the previous Pluto cartoon: The Purloined Pup
To the next Pluto cartoon: Rescue Dog

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date:
 April 12, 1946
Stars:
 Pluto, Butch
Rating:
 ★★★½ 
Review:

Pluto's Kid Brother © Walt Disney

Pluto’s family life has been treated mysteriously in his films.

Mostly, he is on his own, but in ‘Pluto’s Quin-Puplet’s (1937) he had five children, and in ‘Pluto Junior‘ (1942) only one. In ‘Pluto’s kid Brother’, without any explanation, Pluto suddenly has a smaller brother.

The little brat is full of mischief, causing trouble with a rooster, a mean red cat and even teaming up with Butch the Bulldog to get some sausages from the butcher’s shop. But Butch is not the type to share, and in the end Pluto has to save his brother, while Butch is caught by the dog catcher. However, there’s not too much moral to this story, for Pluto, too, fancies the loot: the sausages his little brother has stolen.

‘Pluto’s Kid Brother’ uses the same story idea as the 1936 Betty Boop cartoon ‘You’re Not Build That Way’ starring Pudgy, but with better results. ‘Pluto’s Kid Brother’ is a great improvement on ‘You’re Not Build That Way’: it’s better animated, less cloying, and more entertaining. The result is a nice cartoon, if by no means among Pluto’s best. It remains unknown whether the makers even knew the Betty Boop cartoon, at all.

The red alley cat would reappear in the Figaro cartoon ‘Bath Day’, six months later.  Pluto’s little brother, on the other hand, would disappear again into nothingness, never to return to the screen.

Watch ‘Pluto’s Kid Brother’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 17
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Canine Patrol
To the next Pluto cartoon: In Dutch

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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