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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: May 27, 1938
Stars: Betty Boop, Pudgy
Rating: ★★
Review:

The Swing School © Max Fleischer‘The Swing School’ marks a return of Betty Boop to the animal world she came from in the early 1930s.

In this cartoon she runs a swing school for anthromorpic kid animals, including an elephant, a hippo, a giraffe, and Pudgy. Pudgy, like Pluto, had been only a half anthropomorphized dog and wasn’t able to speak. So in this cartoon, in which he’s more treated as a little kid than as a dog, all these animals are devoid of speech. However, they can sing and play the piano.

Unfortunately, Pudgy is not doing well at all, singing Betty Boop’s trite Lalala song way out of tune. So Betty makes him sit in the dunce’s corner. But when a female dachshund takes pity on the pup, and kisses him, Pudgy suddenly bursts into some serious scatting, making the whole class swing.

‘The Swing School’ surfs on the swing craze, which was in full swing (pardon the pun) by 1938. Although the catchy scatting part is a warm welcome back to Betty Boop’s early jazz days, most of the cartoon is terribly slow and extremely childish, and so tiresome that it comes close to the point of being unwatchable. In no sense the cartoon comes close to the Fleischers’ greatest swing cartoons, like ‘Swing, You Sinners!‘ (1930) or ‘Minnie the Moocher‘ (1932).

Only two weeks later, Warner Bros. would release ‘Katnip Kollege’ covering the same subject, but with much, much more spirit.

Watch ‘The Swing School’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 74
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Out of the Inkwell
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Pudgy the Watchman

‘Out of the Inkwell’ is available on the Blu-Ray ‘Betty Boop: The Essential Collection, Vol. 4’ and the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

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Director: Clyde Geronimi
Release Date: July 3, 1942
Stars: Pluto
Rating: ★★½
Review:

The Sleep Walker © Walt DisneyIn the first scene of this cartoon a female black dachshund tries to steal Pluto’s bone, but she fails.

Then, strangely enough, Pluto delivers her his bone in his sleep, but when he awakes he thinks she has stolen it. After some chasing, he finally destroys her home in his wrath, only to discover that she’s a mother of five pups. When it starts to rain, too, he repents and lends her his own house and collection of bones.

Director Clyde Geronimi favored food-themed Pluto cartoons, and this short is no exception. Unfortunately, the premise of Pluto sleepwalking  is very unlikely and the execution more aimed at sighs than at laughs. The result is yet another cute and rather unfunny Pluto entry. Its best feature is its music (unfortunately uncredited), which uses an effective muted trumpet during the chase scenes, and a weird melody for woodwinds during Pluto’s sleepwalking.

The female dachshund is an early forerunner of Pluto’s later love interest, Dinah, who would first appear in the 1945 cartoon ‘Canine Casanova’.

Watch ‘The Sleep Walker’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 7
To the previous Pluto cartoon: The Army Mascot
To the next Pluto cartoon: T-Bone for Two

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

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

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