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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: August 22, 1941
Stars: Hunky & Spunky
Rating:  ★

Vitamin Hay © Max Fleischer‘Vitamin Hay’ was the very last of the Color Classics, a series that arguably already had run out of steam by 1938.

‘Vitamin Hay’ seems to have appeared almost as an afterthought, being released almost a year after the second to last Color Classic, ‘You Can’t Shoe a Horsefly‘. Like the previous three Color Classic cartoons it starred the boring burro duo of Hunky and Spunky.

This time Spunky refuses to eat his ‘vitamin hay’, and joins a goat in eating car parts. When he swallows a car horn he gets into trouble with some angry geese, and Hunky, once again, has to come to the rescue.

Hunky and Spunky never were remotely interesting to watch, and certainly not fit for the more adult war era, so I doubt whether anyone missed them when they were shelved. ‘Vitamin Hay’, is a fitting farewell to the donkeys, being as tiresome and as devoid of humor as the worst of their previous cartoons. Luckily, the Fleischer had a new, more daring star with ‘Superman‘. Yet he, like Popeye, had not been conceived by themselves, leaving Koko the Clown and Betty Boop the Fleischer’s only two successful creations during the long existence of their studio.

In hindsight the Fleischers’ Color Classics were a disappointing series that never fulfilled their promise. They never approached the quality of their original, Disney’s Silly Symphonies’, and most entries were ill-fated attempts at emulating the Disney style, resulting in sugary, childish and terribly unfunny cartoons. It was clear that in this series the Fleischers tried to be something they were not. This was a pity, for the contemporary Popeye series proved that they needn’t to. In the Popeye cartoons the Fleischers could stay true to themselves, producing some of the best shorts of the 1930s, including several classics, where in my opinion the Color Classics produced none, bar the very first one, the Betty Boop vehicle ‘Poor Cinderella‘ (1934).

Watch ‘Vitamin Hay’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Vitamin Hay’ is available on the DVD set ‘Somewhere in Dreamland – Max Fleischer’s Color Classics: The Definitive Collection’

Director: Clyde Geronimi
Release Date: May 22, 1942
Stars: Pluto
Rating: ★★★

The Army Mascot © Walt Disney‘The Army Mascot’ is the first of two World War Two cartoons starring Pluto (the other one being ‘Private Pluto‘ from 1943).

Pluto never gets really involved in the war, though, he only joins the army. He was the second Disney character to do so, following Donald Duck, who had been drafted only three weeks earlier, in ‘Donald Gets Drafted‘.

However, Pluto’s reasons to join the army are doubtful, to say the least: only when he sees the enormous portions of meat an army mascot gets, he wants to be one, too. He tries to replace “Gunther Goat”, mascot of the Yoo-hoo Division, but all he gets is cans. In his second attempt he tries to chew tobacco like Gunther can, to impress the soldiers. But Gunther makes Pluto swallow the whole piece, making him sick. This sequence is the highlight of the cartoon, as Pluto’s sickness is animated in the most ridiculous way.

Gunther then tries to finish his rival off by bumping Pluto into the munition depot, but it’s Gunther himself who bumps into the depot, which explodes, blasting the wicked goat up into the air, where he’s caught by a plane and carried away into the distance. Now Pluto takes Gunther’s place, and gets his steak after all.

‘The Army Mascot’ is a rather odd cartoon, where both main characters show unpleasant behavior: Pluto envy and trickery and Gunther haughtiness and wrath. Thus, ‘The Army Mascot’, although war-themed, can hardly be called a patriotic film.

Watch ‘The Army Mascot’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 6
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Pluto Junior
To the next Pluto cartoon: The Sleep Walker

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