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Director: Victor Gromov
Release Date: 1949
Rating: ★★
Review:

Mr. Wolf © SoyuzmultfilmMr. Wolf is a Russian propaganda film. The film is an oddball in director Gromov’s small animation output. His other seven films are fantastic fairy tales and children’s films

The film tells about Mr. Wolf, a rich American, who is fed up with weapons and war. He retreats with his unwilling family to a peaceful island. But then oil is discovered on the island. Immediately, Mr. Wolf and his family are overpowered by greed, and the American only too gladly drops his pacifism.

‘Mr Wolf’ is based on a comedy by Evgeny Petrov. Although drowned in caricature, this blatant propaganda film is hardly funny: its animation is elaborate, but painstakingly slow, and too excessive. Moreover, it is not too clear what the message is. Are all Westerners blinded by greed? Is pacifism senseless in a world of war? Are oil and peace at odds with eachother? I’ve no idea.

Watch ‘Mr. Wolf’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Mr. Wolf’ is available on the DVD box set ‘Animated Soviet Propaganda’

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Director: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: July 7, 1951
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating:
 ★★
Review:

His Mouse Friday © MGMSomehow Tom is shipwrecked. He’s washed ashore a tropical island where he meets a Crusoe-like Jerry, whom he wants to eat.

In what must be the film’s highlight Jerry fools him by pretending to be a cannibalistic native, but in the end both characters have to flee for real cannibals, the first human beings we see in their entirety in a Tom & Jerry film

‘His Mouse Friday’ must be one of the least inspired Tom & Jerry cartoons ever. Not only are the two completely out of place on the tropical island, the comedy feels tired, the humor is offensive, and the designs of our heroes mediocre. Tom’s designs in the opening scene are particularly sloppy. It seems that these designs inspired the Gene Deitch cartoons, because they look remarkably similar, which is no advertisement.

Unfortunately, ‘His Mouse Friday’ is no isolated incident. From mid-1951 on, we see the quality of the series gradually deteriorate: character designs get simpler and sloppier, backgrounds less lush, and stories more routine or uninspired. There were still some great Tom & Jerry cartoons to come, and even two Oscar winners, but one nonetheless gets the impression that by mid-1951 their heyday was over.

Watch ‘His Mouse Friday’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No. 59
To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: Sleepy Time Tom
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Slicked-up Pup

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: March 27, 1931
Stars: Mickey Mouse
Rating: ★★
Review:

Still from 'The Castaway' featuring Mickey at the piano and a great apeMickey is a castaway, stranding on a tropical island.

Luckily, a piano is washed ashore as well, so Mickey performs for the jungle animals inhabiting the island. Unfortunately, an obnoxious little tiger disturbs him, and a great ape wants to play the piano, too, wrecking the instrument.

‘The Castaway’ was a short made out of rest material, and it shows: Mickey’s looks are wildly inconsistent, there’s not even a hint of a story, and the whole film feels like a throwback to 1929. Nevertheless, this short contains nice effect animation of waves washing ashore. It also reuses some animation of dancing sea lions from ‘Wild Waves‘ (1929) and of a dancing ape from ‘Jungle Rhythm‘ (1929), the film with which ‘The Castaway’ has most in common, which is no advertisement. In fact, Walt Disney disliked the film, thinking it didn’t look like a Walt Disney picture. And indeed, it hardly does.

The gag in which a lion gets eaten by a crocodile was borrowed from a very early Mickey Mouse comic strip from February 1930, which incidentally was the last panel drawn by Ub Iwerks himself.

‘The Castaway’ is also noteworthy for being the first Disney short to feature music by Frank Churchill, who would score many Disney shorts, and who would become particularly famous for the hit song ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’ from ‘Three Little Pigs‘ (1933) and the songs in ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937).

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 27
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Traffic Troubles
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Moose Hunt

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