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Director: Sam Fell
Release Date: 1996
Rating: ★

While Aardman produced masterpieces of stop motion like ‘The Wrong Trousers‘ (1993) and ‘A Close Shave‘ (1996), the studio also funded much smaller works by independent artists at their studio.

‘Pop’ is one of those. In this short a young man opens a can of soda, which makes his head explode. His goldfish (which has the same face as the young man) replaces him.

‘Pop’ makes no sense whatsoever, and is as ugly as it is unfunny. It feels like an amateurish student project and it probably wouldn’t have been on DVD if it were not an Aardman production. Unfortunately, it may have been the worst, but certainly not the only mediocre product by Aardman of the time , for subsequent films from the nineties like ‘Stage Fright, ‘Owzat‘, ‘Al Dente‘ and ‘Minotaur & Little Nerkin‘ are all very weak. The only exception is the hilarious ‘Humdrum’ from 1998.

Watch ‘Pop’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Pop’ is available on the DVD ‘Aardman Classics’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: March 8, 1940
Stars: Popeye, Olive Oyl
Rating:  ★★★★

Females is Fickle © Max FleischerIn ‘Females Is Fickle’ we watch Popeye being actually on a ship, doing some chores in his own, unusual way.

Then Olive comes along to show him her trained pet goldfish. Unfortunately, the goldfish falls into the sea, and Popeye has to dive after it to rescue Olive’s precious pet. This leads to a long chase scene under water, which also features a very strange amorphous animal, which has Goofy’s guffaw (so likely voiced by Pinto Colvig, who was at Fleischer at the time). This ghost-like creature apparently is supposed to be a jellyfish.

‘Females Is Fickle’ is a pure gag cartoon and great fun. Popeye’s and Olive’s designs are more extreme than usual, and the animation on them is wilder than before. There are some extreme perspectives and takes on both characters, which give these characters a more modern look. Yet, these new designs would not become a new standard.

Watch ‘Females Is Fickle’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This Popeye film No. 77
To the previous Popeye film: Shakespearian Spinach
To the next Popeye film: Stealin’ Ain’t Honest

‘Females Is Fickle’ is available on the DVD set ‘Popeye the Sailor Volume Two’

Director: Jack King
Release Date: August 11, 1939
Stars: Donald Duck

Donald's Penguin © Walt DisneyIn ‘Donald’s Penguin’ Donald Duck receives a present from one Admiral Bird, South Pole.

The package appears to contain a female penguin, whom Donald calls Tootsie. In ‘Donald’s Penguin’ Donald’s behavior is quite different than from the earlier ‘Polar Trappers‘ (1938), in which he tried to kill several penguins in order to eat them. True, even in this gentle cartoon he threatens to blast the penguin away with a shotgun, but mostly the short shows Donald’s soft side. This doesn’t lead to great comedy, and mostly ‘Donald’s Penguin’ seems to be the Donald Duck counterpart of the later, but equally dull Pluto-befriends-an-animal series (e.g. ‘Pluto’s Playmate‘ from 1941 and ‘Canine Patrol‘ from 1945). Nonetheless, ‘Donald’s Penguin’ is a rare Disney cartoon in which creatures are killed, as Donald’s three goldfish all end in the penguin’s stomach.

‘Donald’s Penguin’ was the last cartoon in which Donald Duck wears a white cap. In his next short, ‘The Autograph Hound’ it was replaced by a blue one, probably for greater contrast.

Watch ‘Donald’s Penguin’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon no. 12
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Sea Scouts
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: The Autograph Hound

‘Donald’s Penguin’ is available on the DVD set ‘The Chronological Donald Volume 1’

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: March 3, 1951
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★

Jerry and the Goldfish © MGMTom’s listening to the radio where a french cook is telling about a fish recipe. Tom immediately tries to cook the goldfish in various ways, but Jerry, who’s the goldfish’s friend, rescues him again and again.

Unlike most Jerry-and-a-friend cartoons, ‘Jerry and the Goldfish’ is not cute, but fast and funny, with great gags coming in plenty, many of which involving deformations of Tom’s body. This makes ‘Jerry and the Goldfish’ easily one of the best Tom & Jerry cartoons using this theme. In 1966 Abe Levitow used the same story theme in the late Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘Fillet Meow‘, unfortunately with appalling results.

Watch an excerpt from ‘Jerry and the Goldfish’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 56
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Casanova Cat
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Jerry’s Cousin

Director: Abe Levitow
Release Date: June 30, 1966
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★

Fillet Meow © MGMIn ‘Fillet Meow’ Tom is after a goldfish, who looks a little like Chloe from ‘Pinocchio‘ (1940). Of course Jerry tries to protect the cute little fish.

‘Fillet Meow’ was the third Tom & Jerry cartoon directed by Abe Levitow and by now quality standards had dropped almost to the level of the Gene Deitch Tom & Jerry shorts. The result is rather awful, and nowhere near the quality of the similar ‘Jerry and the Goldfish‘ (1951).

Watch ‘Fillet Meow’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 149
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Love, Love My Mouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Matinee Mouse

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