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Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: February 28, 1933
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Still from 'Mickey's Pal Pluto' featuring Pluto and his little devilish self‘Mickey’s Pal Pluto’ shows how important Pluto had become by 1933.

It’s the first cartoon having the sympathetic mutt in its title, and it’s he, not Mickey or Minnie, who’s the real star of this short, arguably making ‘Mickey’s Pal Pluto’ Pluto’s first own cartoon.

In ‘Mickey’s Pal Pluto’ Pluto saves a few little kittens from drowning. Mickey and Minnie take them home, but there Pluto grows jealous of the intruders, exemplified by a conflict between his devilish and angelic sides, who materialize outside him, and who speak in rhyme. Unfortunately, when Pluto listens to his little devil, this leads to Mickey putting him outside. Nevertheless, when the kittens fall into a well, Pluto rescues the kittens from drowning again, almost drowning himself in the act. In the end he’s rewarded for this unselfish behavior with a roast chicken.

The moral clearly is that being good will be rewarded, as Pluto’s angel character clearly states in the end. So some of the childish sentimentality that had entered the Silly Symphonies in 1933 sneaks in to the Mickey Mouse series, as well.

‘Mickey’s Pal Pluto’ marks the first appearance of Pluto’s imaginary little devil and angel, symbolizing his inner conflict. This cartoon was more or less remade in color in 1941, titled ‘Lend a Paw’. Pluto’s little devil would reappear in ‘Mickey’s Elephant‘ (1936).

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 53
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Mad Doctor
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Mellerdrammer

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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: April 24, 1936
Stars: Betty Boop, Pudgy
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Still from 'We Did It' featuring a little black kittenWhen Betty is gone three kittens cause havoc in Betty’s house. Pudgy gets the blame until the kittens plead guilty.

The three kittens are doubtless inspired by the Walt Disney’s Academy Award-winning cartoon ‘Three Orphan Kittens‘ from 1935, from which it borrows a milk bottle gag. ‘We Did It’ is not half as elaborate as the Disney cartoon. Nevertheless, it shows the Fleischer’s growth in character animation through pantomime. Pudgy, like Pluto, is by design fit for character animation.

Unfortunately, the Fleischer Studio was very inconsistent and this cartoon was followed by many in which character animation is practically absent. And even in ‘We Did It’ the result of this technique is only mildly amusing and hardly impressing.

Watch ‘We Did It’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 50
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop and Little Jimmy
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: A Song a Day

‘We Did It’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: December 5, 1931
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Mickey's Orphans © Walt DisneyIt’s Christmas and a poor lady drops by Mickey and Minnie’s house to leave a box at their doorstep.

This box contains an endless quantity of little kittens, which are taking over the house within seconds. Soon, the house is near complete destruction. This is partly Mickey’s own fault, because dressed up as Santa he gives the little brats toys like hammers, saws, drills, axes, and even guns and canons.

‘Mickey’s Orphans’ is a real gag cartoon from the outset and the first of several Mickey Mouse shorts in which many brats cause havoc. No musical routine is involved, and as soon as the box of kittens is opened, the gags roll in like they never did before. The kittens even manage to give the ever cheerful Mickey and Minnie a dismayed look, albeit only at the end of the cartoon. The little kittens would cause havoc again in ‘Mickey’s Revue‘ (1932) before being replaced by the little mice in ‘Mickey’s Nightmare‘ later that year. Maybe the idea of giant mice dealing with little kittens was a little too awkward for the makers…

‘Mickey’s Orphans’ is the first of no less than four Mickey Mouse Christmas cartoons, the others being ‘Mickey’s Good Deed‘ (1932), ‘Pluto’s Christmas Tree’ (1952) and ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol‘ (1983). It was nominated for the very first Academy Award for animated short film, but it understandably lost to the first technicolor short ‘Flowers and Trees‘ (1932), although Walt Disney did get a special Academy Award for the creation of Mickey Mouse.

Watch ‘Mickey’s Orphans’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 36
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey Cuts Up
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Duck Hunt

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