You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’ tag.

Director: Unknown
Release Date: July 9, 1928
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Tall Timber © Walt DisneyBefore the rediscovery of ‘Sleigh Bells’ in 2015 ‘Tall Timber’ was the last surviving Oswald cartoon made by Walt Disney.

It features Oswald canoeing in the wild, shooting ducks and encountering wild animals, like a moose and a family of bears.

The cartoon’s story is sloppy (although it doesn’t help that some sequences are missing), but the short shows that Disney had advanced animation already before the advent of Mickey. For example, the cartoon features some spectacular waterfall animation, and a convincing falling rock sequence.

The falling rock eventually renders Oswald flat, and in a sequence animated by Hugh Harman we watch him wandering about a little as a flat character. In an attempt to get normal again, he becomes bulbous, which accounts for some surreal, almost trippy close ups of his inflated face, animated by Ham Hamilton.

‘Tall Timber’ was released in June 1928. By that time Disney had already started anew, trying to sell the very first Mickey Mouse cartoon, ‘Plane Crazy‘, to distributors.

‘Tall Timber’ was followed by two more Oswald cartoons by Disney (the recently rediscovered ‘Sleigh Bells’ and the lost ‘Hot Dog’), then by nine by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising, before the series was given to Walter Lantz’s studio. Lantz by far produced the most Oswald cartoons, releasing 142 in total. The character lasted until 1938. But by then Oswald looked quite different from the version in ‘Tall Timber’…

Watch ‘Tall Timber’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 23
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: The Fox Chase
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Sleigh Bells

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Director: Unknown
Release Date: June 25, 1928
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

The Fox Chase © Walt DisneyOswald has a relatively small part in this cartoon, with many gags going to the fox outwitting the dogs.

This Oswald cartoon is noteworthy for a trio of original sight gags: in the first Oswald winds his elongated legs back into shape, in the second the fox pulls a pond to another place, and in the third Oswald’s squeezes a log like a tube of toothpaste.

‘The Fox Chase’ is the first of three cartoons in which Disney explores the humor of fox hunting, the other two, both titled ‘The Fox Hunt’ are a Silly Symphony from 1931 and a cartoon starring Donald Duck and Goofy from 1938. Curiously, all share the end gag involving a skunk.

Watch ‘The Fox Chase’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 22
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Sky Scrappers
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Tall Timber

Director: Unknown
Release Date: June 11, 1928
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Honey, Peg Leg Pete
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Sky Scrappers © Walt DisneyWhere ‘Oh, What a Knight‘ was a forerunner of ‘Ye Olden Days‘, ‘Sky Scrappers’ is the blueprint for the Mickey Mouse cartoon ‘Building a Building‘ (1933).

Like the later cartoon, ‘Sky Scrappers’ opens spectacularly with a fantastic opening shot zooming out of Oswald’s excavator. Both feature Honey/Minnie bringing Oswald/Mickey lunchboxes and Pete kidnapping Honey/Minnie. Like in ‘Oh What A Knight’ Honey is shown without her pants.

The opening shot shows a lot of animation cycles, effectively suggesting a lot of working on the building. There’s also a great perspective gag with Pete punching right into the camera. However, the most remarkably animation achievement is that of Oswald pulling up a heavy barrel. The idea of weight and muscle stretch is very convincing, and stands out amidst the more formulaic animation of the rest of the cartoon.

Watch ‘Sky Scrappers’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 21
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Oh, What A Knight
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: The Fox Chase

Director: Unknown
Release Date: May 28, 1928
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Honey, Peg Leg Pete
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Oh, What a Knight © Walt Disney‘Oh What A knight’ can be regarded as an early forerunner of the Mickey Mouse cartoon ‘Ye Olden Days‘ (1933).

Both shorts feature a medieval setting and both Oswald and Mickey are minstrels courting their love in a castle. However, where in ‘Ye Olden Days’ Goofy is the unlikely villain, Oswald’s opponent is Pete, who wears an anachronistic high hat.

Oswald serenades his sweetie Honey with an equally anachronistic accordeon. Soon, Oswald and Pete duel in grand adventure film-like manner, with Oswald kissing Honey between the fights. One scene in particular has beautifully animated shadows. In the final falling scene Honey loses her pants, and is shown naked. All characters are animated very flexibly: there’s a lot of stretching, falling apart etc.

‘Oh, What a Knight’ is a very entertaining entry in the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit series, and shows that Disney already went for high quality before the advent of Mickey.

Watch ‘Oh, What a Knight’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 20
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Hungry Hoboes
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Sky Scrappers

Director: Unknown
Release Date: April 30, 1928
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Peg Leg Pete
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Ozzie of the Mounted © Walt DisneyOswald is a mounted police officer in charge of catching Peg Leg Pete, who, in spite of his name, has two legs here.

Oswald follows Pete on a mechanical horse, but in the end they’re both chased by a bear. Oswald, however, manages to get both Pete and the bear into prison.

‘Ozzie of the Mounted’ feels rather routine, and is less remarkable than say ‘Rival Romeos‘ or ‘Oh, What a Knight‘. The chase scene fills a large part of the cartoon, but contains few clever gags. Nevertheless, the animation of Oswald swinging around on his mechanical horse’s loose spring is still fascinating to watch. It’s also interesting to point out that Oswald’s mechanical horse looks far more mechanical than his mechanical cow in ‘The Mechanical Cow‘ from seven months earlier. This shows the subtle but steady progress the Walt Disney studio was making in animation, even before it became famous for that.

Watch ‘Ozzie of the Mounted’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 18
To the previous surviving Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Bright Lights
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Hungry Hoboes

Director: Unknown
Release Date: March 19, 1928
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Bright Lights © Walt DisneyAlthough broke, Oswald tries to enter a vaudeville theater where Mademoiselle Zulu performs her shimmy dancing.

After we watch some cat chorus girls dancing the can-can, Mll. Zulu, a female cat character, is shown doing her erotic shimmy dance, probably inspired by Josephine Baker. Oswald manages to enter the theater by hiding beneath a man’s shadow(!), but he is discovered. He tries to hide in a cage, which contains a fierce leopard. When the leopard breaks loose, and later a couple of lions, the whole theater is emptied.

This rather plotless, yet entertaining short contains many surreal gags and a very flexible use of body parts. Oswald’s body is deformed even more than normal, and in one scene we watch him without his pants on.

The best scene is when Oswald pantomimes his love for Mlle. Zulu. This scene is acted out very well, and this embryonic character animation is far more sophisticated than the animation surrounding it.

Watch ‘Bright Lights’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 15
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Rival Romeos
To the next surviving Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Ozzie of the Mounted

Director: Unknown
Release Date: March 5, 1928
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Honey, Pete
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Rival Romeos © Walt DisneyIn this gag-packed cartoon Oswald and Pete compete over Honey, a female cat character, who was Oswald’s girlfriend in 1928.

Pete and Oswald both ride in their cars to her house in a scene looking forward to the early Mickey Mouse cartoon ‘The Barn Dance‘ from later that year. Oswald serenades her until a goat eats all his sheet music and even his banjo. Then he turns the animal into a hurdy gurdy, like Mickey would do later that year in ‘Steamboat Willie‘. When Pete arrives, he and Oswald fight over Honey, almost tearing her apart. Honey gives them the cold shoulder and leaves with a third guy into the distance. Then our rivals kick each other in remorse, like Donald Duck and Peter Pig would do six years later in ‘Wise Little Hen‘ (1934).

As you may notice, ‘Rival Romeos’ contains quite a lot of embryonic gags that Walt Disney would reuse later in other cartoons. Because of these prophetical gags ‘Rival Romeos’ is a highlight among Disney’s Oswald cartoons.

Watch ‘Rival Romeos’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 14
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Africa Before Dark
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Bright Lights

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

Director: Unknown
Release Date: October 31, 1927
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

All Wet © Walt DisneyIn his fifth film Oswald is a hot dog vendor at the beach.

At one point his girlfriend drops by, only to give him the cold shoulder, so Oswald pretends to be a lifeguard. The girl in turn pretends to drown, but then she really get suck into the ocean by a giant fish. Oswald comes to the rescue and earns a passionate kiss.

Although this film still contains some stiff animation and designs from the early 1920s (for example the dog customer), most of the animation is very flexible and lively, especially that of Oswald and the sea. Many of the hot dog gags were reused in the Mickey short ‘The Karnival Kid‘ (1929).

Watch ‘All Wet’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 5
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Great Guns
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: The Ocean Hop

Director: Unknown
Release Date: October 17, 1927
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Great Guns © Walt DisneyWar has broken out. This leads to a surprisingly cheerful crowd of people happily volunteering to be a soldier. As if The Great War had never happened.

Oswald volunteers too, after a long goodbye to his girlfriend. In the trenches, he’s still kissing her portrait, until it is bombed by a mouse. This leads to an air battle between Oswald and the little rodent, which ends with Oswald beating up the mice, until he’s confronted by an angry officer. Oswald and the officer get into a bombing duel, in which Oswald uses an elephant, which explodes. In the end even Oswald himself is literally blown to pieces, but he’s revived by his girlfriend who’s a red cross nurse.

The depiction of war in this cartoon is surprisingly positive, and there are a lot of gags. Real danger is never felt, but the cartoon does feature some startling images of huge cannons swooping into the camera. Four years later Hugh Harman, who did some of the animation, would reuse elements of ‘Great Guns’ in his own World War I film ‘Bosko the Doughboy‘ (1931).

Watch ‘Great Guns’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 4
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: The Mechanical Cow
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: All Wet

Director: Unknown
Release Date: October 3, 1927
Stars: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Rating: ★★★
Review:

The Mechanical Cow © Walt DisneyIn his fifth film Oswald has a mechanical cow to deliver milk with.

When his girlfriend gets kidnapped by a mob of gangsters, the cow helps him to rescue her. The gangsters come to a surprisingly cruel end, when they fall off a cliff and are eaten by sharks.

The cow behaves anything but mechanical. On the contrary, it is very rubbery, and even lazy and sleepy in the first scene, and its animation is not different from that of any of the other characters.

Watch ‘The Mechanical Cow’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon No. 3
To the previous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Oh, Teacher
To the next Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon: Great Guns

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