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Director: Paul J. Smith
Release Date: October 22, 1956
Rating:  ★★★★½

Niagara Fools © Walter LantzIn this cartoon Woody Woodpecker wants to ride the Niagara falls in a barrel.

However, there’s a park ranger who tries to stop him, and it’s this ranger who repeatedly ends in a barrel on the falls.

It’s amazing to discover a gem like this between the badly designed, badly animated and badly timed Walter Lantz shorts of the late 1950s. Although this cartoon, too, features ugly animation, the story and the gags (penned by Disney-veterans Dick Kinney and Milt Schaffer) are very good. The result is by all means one of the best Woody Woodpeckers of the fifties.

Watch ‘Niagara Fools’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Woody Woodpecker cartoon No. 71
To the previous Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Calling All Cuckoos
To the next Woody Woodpecker cartoon: Arts and Flowers

‘Niagara Fools’ is available on the DVD-set ‘The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Volume 2’

Director: Milt Schaffer
Release Date:
September 19, 1952
 Mickey Mouse, Pluto, The Orphan Mice

Pluto's Party © Walt DisneyMickey and Pluto celebrate Pluto’s birthday, which includes a huge pink birthday cake and the presence of several little mice.

In fact, this cartoon marks the unexpected return of the orphan mice, which we hadn’t seen on the screen since ‘Mickey’s Circus‘ from 1936. The little mice give Pluto a hard time and they eat all the cake. Luckily Mickey has saved a piece for our canine friend.

‘Pluto’s Party’ is the only Disney film directed by Pluto story man Milt Schaffer. Unfortunately it’s not a success. Mickey’s design is rather angular in this cartoon and the antics by the orphan mice are quite tiresome, not funny. In spite of the bright colors and the fast cutting, the overall mood is timid and listless. Only two Mickey Mouse cartoons would follow, and you can almost feel the series ending in this cartoon.

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 123
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: R’coon Dawg
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Pluto’s Christmas Tree

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date:
June 9, 1950
 Pluto, Milton

Puss-Cafe © Walt DisneyPluto has a relatively small part in this very zany cartoon, penned by Goofy-storymen Dick Kinney and Milt Schaffer. It stars two alley cats trying to invade a garden full of milk, birds and fish, but guarded by our hero.

The comedy between the two cats is brilliant and the short is full of fine gags, the best of which is a bizarre fishing scene, in which one of the cats uses a milk bottle for a helmet. The larger cat is a dumb character reminiscent of George in Tex Avery’s George and Junior cartoons, and of Junior Bear in Chuck Jones’ three bear cartoons. However, unlike those shorts, the comic interplay between the two characters is devoid of dialogue. Only in the beginning they exchange some meows. The whole cartoon is a showcase of silent comedy.

‘Puss-cafe’ undoubtedly is one of Pluto’s wildest cartoons, on par with ‘Pluto at the Zoo‘ (1942) and ‘Springtime for Pluto‘ (1944), and it belongs to his all-time best. In fact, the two cats were such wonderful characters that it is hard to understand that they were only used once. Nevertheless, one of them would return as ‘Milton’ in Pluto’s last two cartoons: ‘Plutopia‘ and ‘Cold Turkey‘ from 1951, with equally funny results.

Watch ‘Puss-Cafe’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 37
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Primitive Pluto
To the next Pluto cartoon: Pests of the West

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