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Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date:
 March 18, 1933
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Goofy, Pluto
Rating:★★★½
Review:

Mickey's Mellerdrammer © Walt DisneyIn ‘Mickey’s Mellerdrammer’ Mickey and the gang are performing a stage version of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ (1852), a so-called ‘Tom Show’.

Surprisingly, this was not Mickey’s first take at the play, as he and his pals had performed it already in February 1932 in Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse strip ‘The Orphanage Robbery’. The comic strip undoubtedly influenced the cartoon as in both the comic strip and in the cartoon Mickey plays both Topsy and Uncle Tom, while Minnie plays Little Eva, Clarabelle Cow Eliza and Horace Horsecollar the vicious plantation owner Simon Legree. Because the comic strip predates Goofy’s birth he’s not part of the play, and in the cartoon he only helps behind the scene. Goofy remains a surprisingly bland character, doing little more than laughing stupidly, proving that his guffaw still was his only defining character trait.

First we watch Mickey and the gang dress themselves, obviously in the best minstrel tradition and featuring quite a few blackface gags, including the obligate reference to Al Jolson’s ‘Mammy’. Then we watch two scenes of the play itself. The play opens merrily enough with Little Eva and Topsy dancing to ‘Dixie’, but a little later Simon Legree is about to lash Uncle Tom.

Despite the play’s serious subject matter, the cartoon is full of nonsense, especially when Mickey unleashes fifty dogs, ridiculously dressed in dogs costume. The cartoon ends, when these dogs encounter a cat and destroy everything in chasing it. This sequence makes ‘Mickey’s Mellerdrammer’ a late addition to Mickey’s destructive-finale-cartoon-series of 1931/1932. The large number of gags makes ‘Mickey’s Mellerdrammer’ quite entertaining, but of course the numerous blackface gags date the cartoon a lot, and make it an obvious product of a more openly racist era.

In Mickey’s next cartoon ‘Ye Olden Days’ the idea of him and the gang acting was taken a step further, when they were introduced as actors in that cartoon. The idea of cartoon characters performing a melodrama was later copied by Max Fleischer in ‘She Wronged him Right‘ (1934) starring Betty Boop.

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 54
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Pal Pluto
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Ye Olden Days

‘Mickey’s Good Deed’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in black and white Volume two’

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Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date:
 December 17, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Mickey's Good Deed © Walt Disney‘Mickey’s Good Deed’ is the second of four Mickey Mouse Christmas cartoons (‘Mickey’s Orphans‘ from 1931 was the first, the third would only appear at the end of Mickey’s career in 1952: ‘Pluto’s Christmas Tree‘ and the fourth would herald Mickey’s return to the screen in ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol‘ from 1983).

‘Mickey’s Good Deed’ is a typical cartoon of the Great Depression era, which, if we look at the Hollywood output, seemed to find its lowest point in 1931-1933. Surprisingly many films from these years show people in great poverty, struggling at the bottom of society. Other examples are the Laurel and Hardy short ‘One Good Turn’ (1931), the Flip the Frog cartoon ‘What A Life’ (1932), the Cubby the Bear cartoon ‘Barking Dogs’, and the Warner Bros. musical ‘ Gold Diggers of 1933’ (1933).

In the opening scene of ‘Mickey’s Good Deed’ we watch Mickey being down at the dumps: he is a poor street musician, playing ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ on a double bass in the snow. He’s obviously homeless and his pants are ragged. When all the change he got turns out to be just bolts and nuts his hopes of a decent meal in a fancy restaurant are shattered.

Meanwhile a rich and spoiled brat discovers Pluto and wants him for a present. So his father sends out his servant to buy Pluto from Mickey. Mickey first refuses, stating that Pluto is his pal. But then his double bass is destroyed by a sleigh and Mickey discovers a very poor and desperate mother of numerous kittens.

In other to help the latter, he finally sells Pluto to buy numerous toys for the little kittens, which he gives them, dressed like Santa, while they’re sleeping. Meanwhile, the spoiled brat is giving Pluto, his own father and the servant a hard time. In the end, the father spanks his son and throws Pluto out of the house. The cartoon ends when Mickey and Pluto are rejoined again, sharing a roasted chicken Pluto accidentally had brought along.

‘Mickey’s Good Deed’ is one of Mickey’s most melodramatic cartoons, and relatively low on gags, the most of which involving the spoiled brat and his antics. It plays a familiar theme contrasting the spoiled rich, who think they can get anything with money, with the unfortunate poor, who are willing to help each other out. It’s strange to see Mickey so poor, however, as he is in this cartoon. It’s as if he had lost Minnie and his friends, as well. The most poignant scene is that of a homeless Mickey roasting a sausage on a fire with a mock Pluto made out of snow.

This cartoon contains a caricature of Jimmy Durante as a jack-in-the-box, which is probably the first of many caricatures of this 1930s comedian in animated film. One and a half year later, Mickey would meet Jimmy Durante in person in the live action movie ‘Hollywood Party’.

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 50
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Klondike Kid
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Building a Building

‘Mickey’s Good Deed’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in black and white Volume two’

 

Director: Joe Grant?
Release Date:
 November 18, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Wallace Beery, Lynn Fontanne, Alfred Lunt, Helen Hayes, Fredric March, Marie Dressler
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Parade of the Award Nominees © Walt Disney‘Parade of the Award Nominees’ was especially made for the fifth Academy Awards gala night of November 18, 1932 to introduce the nominees for best actors and actresses.

The short is based on the opening parade of ‘Mother Goose Melodies‘ (1931), and reuses quite some animation from the original Silly Symphony, but this time it features Mickey, Minnie and Pluto, all in their color debut, predating their official color debuts in ‘The Band Concert‘, ‘On Ice‘ and ‘Mickey’s Garden‘ respectively by three years. Thus, their color designs are a bit different: Mickey wears green shorts instead of red ones, and Pluto is a sort of grey-ish, instead of orange-brown.

Following Mickey, Minnie and some characters from the original ‘Mother Goose Melodies’ we watch the following Hollywood stars parade: Wallace Beery as ‘The Champ’, Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt (both starring ‘The Guardsman’), Helen Hayes (‘The Sin of Madelon Claudet’), Fredric March (‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’), transforming while walking, and finally Marie Dressler (‘Emma’).

The caricatures were based on designs by Joe Grant, who, at that time, was still working as a newspaper caricutarist. Grant was only hired later, for ‘Mickey’s Gala Premier‘, which premiered eight months later, and which features many more caricatures of Hollywood stars. Incidentally, Fredric March, Wallace Beery and Helen Hayes won the Oscars.

Apart from this film, Disney was very present at this gala night: he was nominated for Best Sound Recording, he won the Oscar for the new category ‘Best Animated Short Film’ with his full-color debut ‘Flowers and Trees‘, and he got an honorary award for the creation of Mickey Mouse, with which Hollywood acknowledged the little mouse’s extraordinary fame. This was Disney’s first triumphant presence at the Academy Awards, but many successes would follow, as Walt Disney would receive no less than 26 Academy Awards during his career…

Watch ‘Parade of the Award Nominees’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Parade of the Award Nominees’ is available on the DVD ‘Mickey Mouse in Living Color’

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date:
 October 15, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Goofy
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Touchdown Mickey © Walt DisneyLike the earlier ‘Barnyard Olympics‘, ‘Touchdown Mickey’ is as fast-paced sports cartoon. It plunges right into action, when we watch Mickey getting a touchdown for his team Mickey’s Manglers, in an attempt to defeat their opponents, the Alley Cats. The Alley Cats all look like Pete sans peg leg, and they prove tough opponents to Mickey’s much more diverse team.

The sheer speed with which the countless gags are delivered is astonishing, especially when compared to contemporary cartoons from other studios, or earlier Mickeys. By 1932 the studio made better use of Mickey the little hero than ever before, and ‘Touchdown Mickey’ excellently plays on Mickey as the underdog beating the odds. This means we can immediately sympathize with him and his feeble team, drawing us into the match ourselves – as we really want him to win.

The short marks Goofy’s third screen appearance and already he is a more recognizable and more defined character than Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow would ever be. In ‘Touchdown Mickey’ he’s a radio reporter, if a rather uninformative one, and in one of the numerous gags he accidentally mistakes the head of a colleague for his microphone. Twelve years later Goofy would be playing football himself, in ‘How to Play Football’ (1944), but by then is character had gone through quite some transformations.

Interestingly, there’s another character with a characteristic laugh in this cartoon, a fat pig in the audience, who wears glasses and holds a cigar. As his design is more complex than that of all other characters, I suspect him to be a caricature, but of whom?

‘Touchdown Mickey’ was released only twelve days after the Flip the Frog cartoon ‘The Goal Rush‘, which covers exactly the same subject to less satisfying results.’Touchdown Mickey’ is great, it’s fun and absolutely among Mickey’s all time best cartoons.

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 47
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Whoopee Party
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Wayward Canary

‘Touchdown Mickey’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date:
 August 13, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Mickey's Nightmare © Walt Disney‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ is not a spooky horror cartoon like ‘The Haunted House‘ or ‘The Gorilla Mystery‘. No, it’s more of a bachelor’s nightmare…

The short’s plot harks back all the way to ‘Poor Papa’ (1928), the pilot film for the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit series, Mickey’s predecessor. In ‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ Mickey dreams he finally marries Minnie, and is soon visited by a stork delivering a baby, and another, and another… Until the storks deliver tons of little kids. When he is awake he’s very happy to be still a bachelor.

‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ introduces the little orphan mice, who would replace the little kittens of ‘Mickey’s Orphans‘ (1931) and ‘Mickey’s Revue’ (1932) as a cause of complete destruction. In Mickey’s dream they ruin the house, especially with paint. In order to show Mickey’s horror scenario, the short uses some excellent and complex use of animation cycles featuring lots and lots of little kids.

It’s interesting that the orphan mice first were introduced as Mickey’s children, and only in dream form. In their next cartoon, ‘Giantland‘ (1933), they suddenly materialized into the real world. The orphan mice would stay around until 1936, starring five more cartoons, before returning one final time in ‘Pluto’s Party‘ from 1952.

The little brats also appeared in the Sunday Pages of Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse comic, starting on September 18. In Gottfredson’s comics the mice are reduced to two, but no less disastrous. They are introduced as Mrs. Fieldmouse’s children and are apparently Mickey’s nephews. These two would eventually be christened Morty and Ferdie, and reenter the movie screen once in ‘Mickey’s Steamroller‘ (1934).

‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ spawned at least two similar cartoons: first the Warner Bros. cartoon ‘Porky’s Romance‘ (1937), and second, the Donald Duck short ‘Donald’s Diary‘ from 1954.

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 44
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey in Arabia
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Trader Mickey

‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date:
 May 12, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Pluto, Goofy
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Mickey's Revue © Walt Disney‘Mickey’s Revue’ is famous for introducing Goofy, whose guffaw we had heard off-stage in the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon, ‘Barnyard Olympics‘.

In this cartoon he’s an elderly person, bearded and wearing glasses. We don’t hear him speak, only his guffaw can be heard, and together with Pluto he forms the running gag of the cartoon. Although Goofy literally has the last laugh, nothing points to the direction of a star career beyond the laugh itself, and indeed, in ‘Trader Mickey‘ his guffaw was used by a cannibal king, indicating it was not an exclusive trait, yet.

Nevertheless, Goofy would return in ‘The Whoopee Party‘, redesigned, christened Dippy Dawg, and here to stay. In fact, Goofy arguably is the first cartoon character, whose voice predates the screen persona, which is completely built around the stupid laugh, and ditto voice.

Apart from Goofy’s debut, there’s enough to enjoy in ‘Mickey’s Revue’, even though it revisits two themes explored earlier in the Mickey Mouse cartoons: that of Mickey and the gang giving a performance and that of animals causing havoc. Here, the source of havoc are the small kittens from ‘The Barnyard Broadcast‘ and ‘Mickey’s Orphans‘ (both 1931). It was their last screen performance, for they would soon be replaced by little mice, first introduced in ‘Mickey’s Nightmare‘ (1932).

‘Mickey’s Revue’ follows the same lines as ‘The Barnyard Broadcast’, but is much better executed, cleverly intertwining the subplots of Goofy’s annoying laugh, Pluto trying to enter the stage, and the kittens interfering with Mickey’s performance. One of the gags involve a kitten caught in the hammers of Minnie’s piano, a gag looking forward to a similar one in the Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘The Cat Concerto‘ (1947). Despite it’s great comedy, ‘Mickey’s Revue’ was the last cartoon exploiting the ruin finale, as used in 1931/1932 cartoons like ‘Mickey Cuts Up‘ and ‘The Grocery Boy‘.

‘Mickey’s Revue’ is a typical ensemble cartoon, also starring Minnie, Horace Horsecollar and no less than three Clarabelle Cows. By now Horace Horsecollar had caught up with his comic personality, and had grown in personality beyond that of a stereotyped horse. Unfortunately, Horace was not developed further on the movie screen – it was left to Floyd Gottfredson  to explore Horace’s character further in his comic strip.

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 41
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Barnyard Olympics
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Musical Farmer

‘Mickey’s Revue’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date:
 June 8, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Musical Farmer © Walt DisneyIn this film Mickey and Minnie are farmers, which makes the film a little like a remake of ‘The Plow Boy‘ (1929).

First we watch Mickey planting seeds with help from Pluto, and Minnie milking a cow. Then Mickey decides to scare Minnie by stepping inside the scarecrow. A string of gags leads to Mickey playing the bagpipes on three geese. This starts a musical number, which is almost Silly Symphony-like in its directionless musical fun at the barnyard. We watch cows, lamb, ducks, pigeons, turkeys and chickens moving and dancing to the tune of Turkey in the Straw.

But then we cut to several chickens laying multitudes of eggs, except for poor Fanny. At this point suddenly a story develops, with Fanny laying an enormous egg, which attracts a lot of attention from her fellow chickens, the other animals, and finally, Mickey. Mickey rushes to bring his camera to make a picture of it, but unfortunately, he uses too much flash light powder, and everything explodes. This final gag was also used by Floyd Gottfredson in the Mickey Mouse comic strip, published on March 13, 1932.

‘The Musical Farmer’ is one of the weaker Mickey Mouse films of 1932. Like e.g. ‘Mickey Cuts Up‘ and ‘The Grocery Boy‘ it’s uses the part-musical-number-part-frantic-finale-formula, but by mid-1932 shots of dancing animals had become a bit tiring and old-fashioned. Moreover, Fanny’s story feels a little out of place, and I suspect that part of this film was intentionally designed as a Silly Symphony, which apparently never really took off.

Watch ‘Musical Farmer’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 42
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Revue
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey in Arabia

‘Musical Farmer’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume Two’

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date:
 January 21, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★½
Review:

The Duck Hunt © Walt DisneyIn ‘The Duck Hunt’ Mickey and Pluto are hunting ducks.

Their attempts are quite circumstantial and fail due to the inferior quality of Mickey’s gun. When the ducks discover that the female duck is only Pluto in disguise, they take revenge by taking Pluto by the ears and drag him and Mickey, who has gripped Pluto’s tail, into the air.

‘The Duck Hunt’ is a gag cartoon similar to ‘The Moose Hunt‘. Unfortunately it isn’t very funny. A lot of screen time is devoted to Mickey and Pluto marching to civil war tunes, and Pluto’s and Mickey’s flight through the air fails to become the intended great finale, because of a lack of great gags, although I liked the gag of Pluto’s flees leaving his fall by parachuting from his behind.

‘The Duck Hunt’ shows that not every Disney cartoon was a winner, despite the studio’s obvious efforts.

Watch ‘The Duck Hunt’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 37
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Orphans
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Grocery Boy

‘Blue Rhythm’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date:
 August 18, 1930
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Peg Leg Pete, (Pluto)
Rating: ★★½
Review:

The Chain Gang © Walt DisneyIn ‘Gallopin’ Gaucho‘ Mickey had been depicted as a bandit, but it still comes as a surprise to see him being a prisoner in ‘The Chain Gang’. We’re sure some injustice has been done, and that Mickey is in fact innocent…

Mickey is imprisoned in a mixed prison (one of the inmates is a cow), where Peg Leg Pete is one of the guards. When Pete goes to sleep Mickey brings out his harmonica, like he did in ‘The Shindig‘ one month earlier, and starts playing Vernon Dalhart’s 1924 hit ‘The Prisoner’s Song’.

This leads to an unremarkable sing-and-dance-routine, which abruptly ends in a massive jailbreak. Mickey escapes, but is followed by two bloodhounds, possibly the most elaborately designed dogs hitherto. Animated by Norm Ferguson, these bloodhounds would become the prototype of Pluto later on. Indeed, the animation of the blood hound approaching and sniffing into the camera was reused for Pluto as late as 1939 for ‘The Pointer’. The real Pluto would appear on the screen two months later in ‘The Picnic‘, and even then he still was called ‘Rover’.

The ‘birth’ of Pluto is the single most important feature of this cartoon, although it’s also noteworthy for the presence of gags involving recurring characters (something pretty new at the time), and for the chase scenes, which contain some nice perspective effects.

Watch ‘The Chain Gang’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 21
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Shindig
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Gorilla Mystery

‘The Chain Gang’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: ‘Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Clyde Geronimi
Release Date: August 14, 1942
Stars: Pluto, Butch
Rating: ★★½
Review:

T-Bone for Two © Walt Disney‘T-Bone for Two’ is one of those Clyde Geronimi directed Pluto shorts about bones (other examples are ‘The Sleep Walker‘ and ‘Pluto at the Zoo‘ from the same year). It’s also Pluto’s second attempt to get a bone from vicious bulldog Butch, after ‘Bone Trouble’ from 1940.

This time Pluto gets the bone by making Butch think he has buried a gigantic bone somewhere else. The second half is devoted to Pluto’s problems with a car horn. The horn make him lose his bone to Butch again, but he regains it with it, too.

Despite some great comedy (Pluto’s fake steps to his supposed hiding place and Butch’s flight into the air), Clyde Geronimi’s interplay between Pluto and Butch is less successful than Jack Kinney’s was in ‘Bone Trouble’. The cartoon never becomes really funny, resulting in one of the weaker entries in the Pluto series.

Watch ‘T-Bone for Two’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 8
To the previous Pluto cartoon: The Sleep Walker
To the next Pluto cartoon: Pluto at the Zoo

Director: Clyde Geronimi
Release Date: July 3, 1942
Stars: Pluto
Rating: ★★½
Review:

The Sleep Walker © Walt DisneyIn the first scene of this cartoon a female black dachshund tries to steal Pluto’s bone, but she fails.

Then, strangely enough, Pluto delivers her his bone in his sleep, but when he awakes he thinks she has stolen it. After some chasing, he finally destroys her home in his wrath, only to discover that she’s a mother of five pups. When it starts to rain, too, he repents and lends her his own house and collection of bones.

Director Clyde Geronimi favored food-themed Pluto cartoons, and this short is no exception. Unfortunately, the premise of Pluto sleepwalking  is very unlikely and the execution more aimed at sighs than at laughs. The result is yet another cute and rather unfunny Pluto entry. Its best feature is its music (unfortunately uncredited), which uses an effective muted trumpet during the chase scenes, and a weird melody for woodwinds during Pluto’s sleepwalking.

The female dachshund is an early forerunner of Pluto’s later love interest, Dinah, who would first appear in the 1945 cartoon ‘Canine Casanova’.

Watch ‘The Sleep Walker’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 7
To the previous Pluto cartoon: The Army Mascot
To the next Pluto cartoon: T-Bone for Two

Director: Clyde Geronimi
Release Date: February 28, 1942
Stars: Pluto
Rating: ★★
Review:

Pluto Junior © Walt DisneyIn this cartoon Pluto has only one son (instead of five as in ‘Pluto’s Quin-Puplets’ from 1937).

We watch this pup playing with a ball, a balloon, a caterpillar and a bird, which leads him into a distressful position on a clothes-line. Only then Pluto, who had been asleep all the time, comes into action. Pluto rescues his son and both fall into a wash-tub.

The best sequence of the cartoon involves Pluto’s antics on the clothes-line. It’s clear that he is a far funnier character than his son, which is only cute. Indeed, after this cartoon Pluto jr. was never seen again.

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

This is Pluto cartoon No. 5
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Pluto’s Playmate
To the next Pluto cartoon: The Army Mascot

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: September 21, 1951
Stars: Pluto, Milton
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Cold Turkey © Walt Disney‘Cold Turkey’ was the very last Pluto cartoon, although Pluto would return in Mickey Mouse’s last three cartoons (1952/1953).

The short couples Pluto to Milton, the zany cat who had been introduced in ‘Puss-Cafe‘ the previous year, only to star in three cartoons.

‘Cold Turkey’ opens with some live action footage on a television set featuring a wrestling match. Pluto and Milton sleep right through it, only to awake at an add for hot turkey. The pair first tries to get the turkey out of the television set, then try to find it in the kitchen. When they discover one in the fridge, the companionship turns into rivalry.

‘Cold Turkey’ is less funny than either ‘Puss-Cafe’ or ‘Plutopia‘, the other two cartoons featuring Milton, but it’s still an enjoyable short. The best part may be the pedal bin scene. It’s sad to see the Pluto series ending when its makers had finally made it into a funny one, with its last eleven cartoons being among the best of the entire series.

Watch ‘Cold Turkey’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto’s 43rd and last cartoon
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Plutopia

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: February 9, 1951
Stars: Pluto
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Cold Storage © Walt DisneyCold Storage is the second of only two Pluto cartoons directed by Jack Kinney, the other being ‘Bone Trouble’ from 1940.

Jack Kinney was Disney’s best gag cartoon director, and ‘Cold Storage’ is no exception. The story is set in wintertime. A freezing stork seeks shelter in Pluto’s dog house. When an equally cold Pluto returns home, a battle for the dog house begins.

Highlight of the film is when Pluto discovers his doghouse is moving and flying. Pluto’s facial expressions are priceless in this section. However, throughout the picture the animation of Pluto is expressive and flexible, full of great facial expressions and extreme poses. The interplay between the two characters is excellent and accounts for many gags.  In the end the already zany cartoon turns absurd, when winter suddenly gives way to a hot summer day…

Watch ‘Cold Storage’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 41
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Camp Dog
To the next Pluto cartoon: Plutopia

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: August 11, 1950
Stars: Pluto, Chip ‘n’ Dale
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Food for Feudin' © Walt DisneyFood for Feudin’ is the third of four cartoons coupling Chip ‘n’ Dale to Pluto. It’s also the only Chip ‘n’ Dale cartoon directed by Charles Nichols.

Nichols handles the characters of the two chipmunks very well. Their interplay is better than in many Donald Duck cartoons and a delight to watch. In the opening scene Dale even mocks Donald’s anger dance, and later we hear his version of the Goofy yell.

The story is set in autumn, in a park. Pluto tries to store his bone in Chip ‘n’ Dale’s nut tree. The result is that all Chip ‘n’ Dale’s nuts end up in Pluto’s dog house. In order to get them out they hide themselves in two gloves. This idea leads to some wonderfully comedy.

In all ‘Food for Feudin’ is a delightful cartoon, and one of Chip ‘n’ Dale’s best.

Watch ‘Food for Feudin’’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 39
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Pests of the West
To the next Pluto cartoon: Camp Dog

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: July 21, 1950
Stars: Pluto, Bent-Tail & Bent-Tail junior
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Pests of the West © Walt Disney‘Pests of the West’ is the second of three cartoons featuring the coyote Bent-Tail and his dopey son.

In ‘Sheep Dog‘ (1949) they’d tried to steal sheep; this time the hungry duo is after the chickens. Pluto is only the straight man in a cartoon, which is devoted to the delightful interplay between father and son.

Although not as classic as ‘The Legend of Coyote Rock’, ‘Pests of the West’ is a funny cartoon. The short is packed with gags, some being quite Tex Averyan, like the son hanging in mid air until his father knocks him down. However, its highlight is the great scene in which Pluto and Bent-Tail fight for a chicken. The wonderful and jazzy soundtrack enhances all the fun. It was composed by Paul Smith, who had been an arranger for Disney since the late 1930s, and would become a noteworthy composer on the studio’s True-Life Adventures.

Watch ‘Pests of the West’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 38
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Puss-Cafe
To the next Pluto cartoon: Food for Feudin’

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: September 22, 1944
Stars: Pluto, Figaro, Minnie Mouse
Rating: ★★½
Review:

First Aiders © Walt DisneyAfter a cartoon with Cleo, Pinocchio’s kitten Figaro was coupled to Pluto to co-star in three cartoons, of which ‘First Aiders’ is the first.

In this short both pets want to help Minnie while she’s practicing first aid. Pluto pushes little Figaro away to be the first, a move he regrets when he’s all put in plints and Figaro starts to taunt him.

Even though some of the animation is pretty outlandish, this is a cute, not a funny short. Most interesting are some of the backgrounds, which are kept deliberately vague during the chase scenes. Figaro and Pluto would be together again in ‘Cat Nap Pluto’ (1948) and ‘Pluto’s Sweater’ (1949). Both cartoons are more enjoyable than ‘First Aiders’.

Watch ‘First Aiders’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 12
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Springtime for Pluto
To the next Pluto cartoon: Dog Watch

Director: Ben Sharpsteen
Release Date: September 12, 1936
Stars: Donald Duck, Pluto
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Donald and Pluto © Walt DisneyWhile Donald is plumbing, Pluto accidentally swallows a magnet, attracting all kinds of metallic objects, like his dish, a pendulum, a watch and eventually Donald’s monkey-wrench.

This short features elaborate gags based on character animation, surely building to a grand finale. One can admire the inevitable ‘logic’ of the film, yet the result is only mildly funny, and neither one of Donald’s or Pluto’s best films.

Although advertised as a Mickey Mouse cartoon, in ‘Donald and Pluto’ Mickey Mouse is not present at all. On the contrary, for both Donald and Pluto this is their first cartoon without Mickey (if we disregard the Silly Symphonies ‘Just Dogs‘ from 1932 and ‘The Wise Little Hen‘  from 1934). After getting more and longer sequences of their own within the Mickey Mouse series, this step was inevitable.

Pluto had come a long way, sharing five years and 33 films with Mickey before standing on his own, but Donald received his independence already within two years, after only twelve films with Mickey.

Both Pluto and Donald would get their own series in 1937. They would appear together in five more films, all within Donald’s series: ‘Beach Picnic’ (1939), ‘Donald’s Dog Laundry’, ‘Put-Put Troubles’, ‘Window Cleaners’ (all 1940) and finally ‘The Eyes Have It’ (1945).

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 88
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Circus
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Elephant

Director: David Hand
Release Date: October 10, 1936
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Mickey's Elephant © Walt Disney‘Mickey’s Elephant’s opens with Mickey receiving a cute young elephant from the Rajah of Ghaboon as a playmate for Pluto. Unfortunately Pluto is not amused, and he thinks ‘Bobo’ is an intruder with intentions to replace him.

‘Mickey’s elephant’ is similar to ‘Mickey’s Pal Pluto‘ (1933) and to ‘Mickey’s Kangaroo‘ (1935), in which Pluto is also jealous of an intruder and which also feature his evil side. Like in ‘Mickey’s Pal Pluto’ Pluto’s evil consciousness has materialized into a little devilish persona, who talks with a strong New York accent and who persuades Pluto to fix Bobo using red pepper. Sneezing along Bobo blows is own new house down, but unfortunately Pluto’s too…

‘Mickey’s Elephant’ is a rare example of a Mickey Mouse film inspired by the Mickey Mouse comic strip. Most of the time the influence was reversed. But in this case Bobo the elephant had made his entrance in Floyd Gottfredson’s strip two years earlier. Bobo is a completely innocent character, and Pluto’s little devil notwithstanding, the cartoon is more cute than funny.

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 89
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Donald and Pluto
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Worm Turns

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: April 18, 1953
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

The Simple Things © Walt Disney‘The Simple Things’ was to be Mickey’s and Pluto’s last theatrical cartoon (Pluto’s own series had stopped two years earlier).

Unfortunately it is a rather uninspired goodbye. The cartoon returns to the elongated situation comedy of the thirties. There are only two plots here, which hardly build up to a finale. First: Pluto’s encounters with a humanized clam and second, Mickey and Pluto’s fight with a hungry seagull. Both parts are executed routinely, without inspiration.

This makes ‘The Simple Things’ a sad ending to a career that started so phenomenally well, changing the course of animation, 25 years earlier. It would take Mickey another thirty years to return to the movie screen in ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol‘ from 1983. Meanwhile, Mickey & Pluto director Charles Nichols would direct three Donald Duck cartoons, and one special, ‘The Saga of Windwagon Smith‘, before leaving Disney for Hanna-Barbera in 1962.

Watch ‘The Simple Things’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 125
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Pluto’s Christmas Tree
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Christmas Carol

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