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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: December 17, 1933
Stars: Popeye, Olive Oyl, Bluto
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Seasin's Greetinks! © Max Fleischer‘Seasin’s Greetinks!’ is Popeye’s first Christmas cartoon. It must be one of the least typical Christmas cartoons around: we watch Bluto and Popeye clobbering each other, while wishing each other ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘A Happy New Year’, respectively.

Most of the time we watch the trio skating. When Olive gives him the cold shoulder, Bluto cuts off the ice on which she sits, and she immediately drifts towards a waterfall. Luckily, Popeye saves her in a rather bizarre way. The cartoon ends with Olive and Popeye watching a Christmas tree, decorated by the stars from the blow Popeye gave Bluto.

‘Seasin’s Greetinks’ is the first mediocre Popeye cartoon. Compared to earlier entries this cartoon is rather low on gags, and the love triangle already becomes predictable. Luckily, the Fleischers came up with enough variations to keep the series fresh, even if not in all its entries.

‘Seasin’s Greetinks!’ is noteworthy for introducing the skating-near-a-waterfall plot, which Disney would copy in ‘On Ice‘ (1935) and the ‘Once upon a Wintertime’ sequence of ‘Melody Time’ (1948).

Watch ‘Seasin’s Greetinks!’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Seasin’s Greetinks!’ is available on the DVD Box Set ‘Popeye the Sailor 1933-1938’

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Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date:
 October 22, 1930
Rating:
Review:

Winter © Walt DisneyAmong the earliest Silly Symphonies there was a cycle devoted to the four seasons. ‘Winter’ is the last of these four season cartoons.

Following the artistic success of ‘Autumn‘, ‘Winter’ is unfortunately as dull and plotless as the earlier ‘Springtime‘ or ‘Summer‘. The cartoon both starts an ends with a winter storm. In between we watch animals skating and dancing on Emile Waldteufel’s Skaters’ Waltz. This scene features some deer, which are a far cry from ‘Bambi‘ (1942), but who are more comfortable on ice than Bambi would ever be twelve years later. The cartoon ends when a groundhog sees his shadow again, and cold and snowy winds drive the animals back to their hiding places.

Luckily, ‘Winter’ formed the end of an era. Already with the next Silly Symphony, ‘Playful Pan‘ the Disney studio would aim to exchange the endless dance routines for more experiment, and this level of experiment would only increase from 1931 onwards…

Watch ‘Winter’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Silly Symphony No. 14
To the previous Silly Symphony: Monkey Melodies
To the next Silly Symphony: Playful Pan

‘Winter’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: More Silly Symphonies’

Director: Walter Lantz
Release Date: October 10, 1951
Stars: Woody Woodpecker
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Redwood Sap © Walter Lantz‘Redwood Sap’ is the fable of the grasshopper and the ants disguised as a Woody Woodpecker cartoon.

Woody Woodpecker plays the role of the grasshopper, being extremely lazy, and stealing food from his neighbors: two beavers, a squirrel and a nest of ants. In the opening shot we watch him reading a book called “work and how to avoid it” by Hans Doolittle, and later we learn that Woody’s motto is “Why worry about tomorrow, I’m gone the day after”.

Then winter arrives, and Woody even refuses to join the birds flying South. However, confronted with an empty stomach and an empty cupboard Woody is forced to beg his neighbors for food. They however punish him for their maltreatment. So, when spring arrives they find him trapped inside an ice cube. However, when the animals take pity on Woody and revive him, they soon experience the woodpecker hasn’t learned a bit…

‘Redwood Sap’ is not a gag cartoon like contemporary Woody Woodpecker shorts. With its fable-like story it looks back to cartoons of the 1930s. However, in its speed, its animation and in its dubious moral, it’s clearly a product of its own time. ‘Redwood Sap’ shows the inventiveness of the Walter Lantz studio, who could turn out original cartoons even on a small budget.

Watch ‘Redwood Sap’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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: Jack Hannah
Release Date: November 28, 1947
Stars: Donald Duck, Chip and Dale
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Chip an' Dale © Walt DisneyAfter two early appearances (‘Private Pluto‘ from 1943 and ‘Squatter’s Rights‘ from 1946) ‘Chip ‘n Dale’ marks the true debut of those lovable two little chipmunks, Chip and Dale.

In this cartoon they are named for the first time, and it’s also the first cartoon in which they are two distinct characters, although Dale still lacks his characteristic red nose here. Here they’re teamed against Donald Duck for the first time, their former adversary being Pluto. The short marks the beginning of a series of twenty cartoons, only ending in 1956, at the very end of the era of Disney shorts.

The story of ‘Chip an’ Dale’ provides the blueprint for the series: Donald wants to chop some wood for his winter cottage, and chops down the dead tree in which Chip and Dale live with their storage of nuts. In the subsequent scenes the lively duo tries to prevent Donald from burning up their tree and to get it back. The result is a cartoon of excellent comedy, not only between the chipmunks and Donald, but also between the two little critters themselves.

Watch ‘Chip an’ Dale’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 66
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Wide Open Spaces
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Drip Dippy Donald

Director: Alexander Ivanov
Release Date: 1950
Rating: ★
Review:

Grandpa and Grandson © SoyuzmultfilmIt’s winter, and a rabbit, a fox and a squirrel wake up a hibernating little bear to go skating with them.

‘Grandpa and grandson’ is one of the countless harmless children’s films the Soviet Union produced in the 1950s. Unfortunately, it’s not among the best. It’s a slow and sugary film starring many all too cute animals and using a lot of dialogue.

Unlike contemporary Soviet animation films it doesn’t seem to be based on a folk tale. Instead, it feels like an overlong Silly Symphony (it lasts almost twenty minutes), ending with a seemingly endless ballet on skates. Because of the slow animation of the characters (typical of Russian films from the era), even this ballet doesn’t really comes off like its Disney models.

Watch ‘Grandpa and grandson’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Friz Freleng
Release Date:
 February 24, 1951
Stars:
 Tweety & Sylvester
Rating:
 ★★★★
Review:

Putty Tat Trouble © Warner BrothersIt’s winter and Tweety is troubled by two cats (Sylvester and a red cat with a bad eye), who fight over him. Most of the comedy derives from the feud between the two, and only in the end Tweety himself comes into action, making the two cats fall into an icy pond.

With ‘Putty Tat Trouble’ Freleng returns to Tweety’s first solo films, Bob Clampett’s ‘A Tale of Two Kitties’ (1942) and ‘A Gruesome Twosome‘ (1945), in which also two cats fought for the little bird. Freleng’s humor is different from Bob Clampett’s, but once again, the feud works very well. Apart from Tweety’s talking, all the comedy is silent and brilliantly executed, too. This makes ‘Putty Tat Trouble’ one of the better Tweety and Sylvester cartoons.

In one scene we can see a Friz Freleng portrait in the background.

Watch ‘Putty Tat Trouble’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Putty Tat Trouble’ is available on the DVD set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 1’

Director: ?
Release Date: May 27, 1948
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Once Upon a Wintertime © Walt DisneyOnce Upon a Winter Time’ is the first and easily the best sequence from ‘Melody Time‘.

In this film, sung by Frances Langford, we follow a young romantic couple on a sleigh ride. They go skating and are joined by an equally romantic couple of rabbits. After a short break-up the two females are caught in drifting ice and heading for a waterfall. Surprisingly, they are rescued by the couple’s two horses, who get help from a pair of birds and a pair of squirrels. They return the ladies in distress to their male counterparts, restoring love.

This sweet story is particularly interesting for its highly stylized backgrounds based on designs by Mary Blair and featuring unnatural colors, like a yellow sky. The story looks back to ‘On Ice‘ (1935) and even ‘The Ugly Duckling‘ (1931), which both feature a rescue from a waterfall, too.

Watch ‘Once upon a Wintertime’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack King
Release Date: 
April 10, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Donald's Snow Fight © Walt DisneyThe world is covered in snow, and Donald goes for a sled ride, wearing a ridiculously broad fur overcoat.

He purposely ruins Huey, Dewey and Louie’s snowman by sledding right through it. They seek revenge and build a snowman resembling Donald around a rock. This feud leads to a snow-fight between admiral Donald on a battle ship made out of ice and his three nephews on an ice fort.

‘Donald’s Snow Fight’ is a classic Donald vs. his nephews cartoon, but the complete film is quite slow, due to Jack King’s tame directing. Despite some excellent gags, it doesn’t live up to ‘Hockey Champ’ (1939), the other classic winter cartoon featuring Donald and his nephews, or ‘Truant Officer Donald’ (1941), which also features a battle between Donald and his nephews.

The short’s excellent story is by Carl Barks, who reused its theme two years later in his Donald Duck comic WDC 44-442.

Watch ‘Donald’s Snow Fight’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 31
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: The Village Smithy
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Donald Gets Drafted

Director: Ben Sharpsteen
Release Date: September 28, 1935
Stars: Donald Duck, Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

On Ice © Walt DisneyOn Ice is the first of Disney’s ‘ensemble cartoons’.

Everyone is in it: Mickey, Minnie (in her color debut), Donald, Goofy, Pluto and even, albeit very briefly, Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow. ‘On Ice’ introduces two story ideas that would be used again much later: Pluto’s problems on ice in ‘Bambi’ (1942) and the idea of skating near a waterfall in the ‘Once upon a Wintertime’ sequence of ‘Melody Time’ (1948), although this latter idea first appears in the Popeye cartoon ‘Season’s Greetinks!‘ from 1933.

Apart from this, ‘On Ice’ has been very important in the development of Goofy. He’s been completely restyled, has more body to his looks and a much more distinct personality. All these important improvements on the character are attributed to Art Babbitt, one of the greatest animators of all time. Goofy sings ‘The world owes me a living’ from ‘The grasshopper and the ants’ (1934). The song naturally becomes his theme song. No wonder, for the grasshopper and Goofy share the same voice: that of Pinto Colvig. Also of note is Goofy’s original fishing style, using chew to catch fish.

Watch ‘On Ice’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 79
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Pluto’s Judgement Day
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Polo Team

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