Archive for the ‘Classic Disney Cartoons’ Category

Disney Talk – Lucky Duck

June 9, 2009
Image © Disney.

Donald Duck is celebrating his 75th birthday, and has made quite a lot of friends since 1934.

By Blake

Originally posted June 9, 2009.

A classic scene-stealer since his debut in the 1934 Silly Symphony cartoon The Wise Little Hen, Donald Duck was given special treatment by Disney animators in his early years. After Donald repeatedly proved to be much more than a sidekick in his recurring role in several Mickey Mouse cartoons, he soon earned his own individual series of cartoons. The first of those shorts was 1937’s Don Donald (which was also Daisy’s first appearance), which made Donald the first Disney character other than Mickey Mouse to have his own cartoon series (Goofy and Pluto later followed).

Donald’s 75th birthday is today, Tuesday, June 9, 2009. D23, the official Disney fan club, seems to be the only branch of the Walt Disney Company that’s commemorating Donald’s special day, but they’re doing so in fine fashion. Donald made the cover of the summer issue of Disney twenty-three magazine, and inside was a special Donald-themed feature article tracing the duck’s expansive and fascinating history. D23 members can also submit art of Donald by June 15 that could be chosen to become his official 75th birthday portrait, making the winning member Donald’s official portrait artist.

Donald was on the cover of the summer 2009 issue of Disney twenty-three magazine. Image © Disney.

Additionally, the D23 website has been showing a classic Donald cartoon each week in what they’re calling “Duck Season.” This week’s pick is the 1940 cartoon Fire Chief, as selected by Dave Smith, Chief Archivist of the Walt Disney Archives. Previous choices in Duck Season have included Chef Donald, Truant Officer Donald, and Donald’s Snow Fight. This is a really great opportunity to see some classic Donald misadventures.

Lastly, a commemorative article celebrating Donald’s 75th birthday was posted earlier today on D23’s website. D23 has done an excellent job at celebrating a Disney milestone that might not have been noted otherwise, as no other official recognition by Disney has been given of Donald’s birthday this year other than the D23 happenings.

To throw in my congratulations to Donald for 75 years of quackiness, I thought I’d list some of Donald’s closest friends and the relationships he’s made with them over the years.

Mickey Mouse

Donald has wanted to take the spotlight from Mickey Mouse ever since their first appearance together in 1934’s Orphan’s Benefit. Although in reality Donald has actually succeeded Mickey in popularity (especially during the time of his cartoon shorts in the 1940’s and 1950’s), it seems that no one’s told Donald that! He’s continued to want the attention put on him instead of Mickey, especially when it comes to The Mickey Mouse Club. However, when it comes down to it, Mickey and Donald are really good friends. Even though Donald repeatedly messes up situations for Mickey, Mickey always seems to come through with the patience and forgiveness needed for the two to remain friends.

Donald disrupted Mickey’s band performance in 1935’s The Band Concert. Image © Disney.

Minnie Mouse

Throughout the course of Donald’s 75 years, audiences haven’t seen much interaction between Minnie and Donald. When we do, it usually involves Minnie warning Donald not to do something, and of course then results in Donald not listening and doing just what Minnie said not to do, as in the live show Cinderella’s Surprise Celebration (now closed) at Walt Disney World. Additionally, Minnie tends to give Donald encouragement every now and then, such as in Dream Along with Mickey, which is now performing at the Magic Kingdom. Even though Donald may not realize it that often, Minnie is a good friend that’s always there for him.

Goofy

Goofy’s antics are enough to drive anyone . . . well, goofy. Even Mickey, one of Hollywood’s most patient actors, sometimes gets annoyed by Goofy’s clumsiness, as seen in the TV show House of Mouse. However, while Mickey might try to rationalize with Goofy and talk things through to resolve a situation, Donald just downright gets mad. And the audience loves it. There were even several “Donald & Goofy” cartoons that were released in the 1940’s because the pair worked so well together cinematically. Goofy is sometimes oblivious to the problems he creates, and that’s what makes him so lovable, and even Donald is there to lend the goof a helping hand when needed.

Donald is featured along with some of his friends (including Goofy, Minnie, and Mickey, featured here from left) in the TV show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney. Image © Disney.

Pluto

Pluto is actually a lot like Donald, often getting frustrated about situations that he can’t control. However, since Pluto is a genuine dog and doesn’t fully understand quite what’s going on sometimes, instead of having a tantrum like Donald does, he shows curiosity to take matters into his own paws and solve problems himself. It seems fitting that two similar characters would work so well in scenes together, and the Disney animators seemed to know it. In the 1935 cartoon On Ice, Donald puts a set of ice skates on poor Pluto while the dog is sleeping, resulting in a surprise for Pluto when he wakes up. The pair was later put together in the 1936 cartoon Donald and Pluto in another great story and again in the 1939 short Beach Picnic. Both displaying their tempers often (though Pluto’s is far tamer than Donald’s), the two of them have delivered a hoopla of entertaining stories for audiences.

Daisy Duck

The apple of Donald’s eye, Daisy first appeared in the first-ever official “Donald Duck” cartoon, 1937’s Don Donald. Originally her voice was the same as Donald’s, though she soon got a distinctive female voice. It’s appropriate that Daisy would be drawn to Donald’s befuddled personality, as she often displays a temper herself. Even though she constantly is warning Donald to stay calm, sometimes she joins him in flaring her anger, making the two great for each other.

Daisy Duck is Donald’s girlfriend. Image © Disney.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie

Donald’s nephews (the sons of his sister Dumbella), Huey, Dewey, and Louie with their energetic personalities and rambunctious mischief get Donald almost every time. The boys are experts at pulling pranks on their uncle, and often succeed at tricking Donald and causing him to explode in frustration. Like Daisy, the trio once had the same voice as Donald. However, when they began to headline their own TV series along with their great-uncle Scrooge McDuck (but without Donald) in 1987 – 1990’s DuckTales, the boys got their own voice, which was provided by Russi Taylor, who is also the voice of Minnie Mouse. (Huey, Dewey, and Louie all collectively sounded the same, but now sounded different than Donald). In the 1996 TV show Quack Pack, the boys had matured to teenagers (where they got another voice change) and tagged along as Donald and Daisy reported news for a TV station. Since 1999, the boys-to-teenagers transition has been on and off, though we mostly now see Huey, Dewey, and Louie in their younger stage. Whatever their age, they almost always jump at the chance to prank their “Unca Donald,” though also know when the make things right and apologize when they’ve gone too far.

Chip and Dale

Another group that frustrates Donald, Chip and Dale often annoy him without even realizing it. Usually they’re just trying to get back what Donald has mistakenly taken from them. However, once each side knows they’ve angered the other, there’s no stopping them. Chip and Dale usually get the best of Donald in the end, much to their satisfaction.

Scrooge McDuck

Donald doesn’t quite understand his Uncle Scrooge’s love for money, but that doesn’t bother Scrooge. Scrooge seems to have grown humbler as he’s progressed in TV shows and movies over the years, and because of this he’s been able to put up with Donald’s tantrums. After all, Scrooge has had experience with Donald’s mother (Scrooge’s sister), Hortense, who had quite the temper of her own.

His Fellow Caballeros

Donald is one of the “Three Caballeros,” a group of birds that were featured in a “self-titled” Disney film of the same name in 1945. The other caballeros are Jose Carioca from Brazil and Panchito from Mexico. Donald has a sense of belonging to the group, and seldom misbehaves around them. The three later went on to appear together on an episode of House of Mouse, and again in an attraction at Walt Disney World’s Epcot called Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros.


Donald is a member of the Three Caballeros. From left: Donald, Panchito, and Jose. Image © Disney.

Although Donald has displayed many instances of flaring anger throughout his 75 years, he’s also been adored by audiences for his witty, persistent personality that’s been conveyed not only by himself, but also with the help of some of his beloved co-stars.

If you get the chance, head on over to the D23 website to catch some of those classic Donald shorts, or view one of Donald’s Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets to get a glimpse of his timeless career.

Happy 75th birthday, Donald Duck! Now I’m off to watch a Mickey cartoon. Just kidding . . . there’s no need to throw a fit. 😉

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake Taylor; posted June 9, 2009. All images © Disney.

Blake’s Picks – Top 12 Mickey Cartoons

November 23, 2008
To celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 80th Birthday, I count down my top 12 favorite Mickey shorts.

By Blake

Originally posted November 23, 2008.

First off, just to let you know – I had this article planned out WEEKS in advance. I was going to list my favorite Mickey Mouse cartoons to honor the mouse’s 8 decades of stardom. However, if you saw LaughingPlace.com’s homepage this week, you’ll notice that they did the same. I love LaughingPlace and honestly think it’s one of the best (if not THE best) unofficial Disney site out there these days. They always have the latest Disney news and have everything covered, from movie reviews to park picture updates. So, I’d like to just say now that I did not copy LaughingPlace while writing this article. I had it planned and in mind, knowing that I was going to write it for well over a few weeks now. Besides, this counts down my personal favorite Mickey cartoons, while LP’s countdown focused more on Mickey’s career as a performer.

So, anyway, 80 years ago on November 18, 1928, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse made their public screen debut in Steamboat Willie, the first-ever cartoon with sound, at the Colony Theater (now the Broadway Theater) in New York City. The rest is history.

Mickey has captivated millions of hearts worldwide and I think it’s safe to say that there aren’t many souls on Earth that don’t know who he is. Even though he’s a fictional character, he’s been embraced by the entertainment industry as an actor and cultural icon, bring joy and happiness with his beaming smile and pleasant look every time he appears. His voice is welcoming and his actions are admirable. You can’t help but just well up with joy when you see him, and it’s certainly an accomplishment to still have popularity after 80 years on the silver screen.

So, happy happy birthday Mickey, and here’s the countdown of my top 12 favorite Mickey Mouse cartoons of all time:

12.) Symphony Hour, 1942
Somewhat of a sequel to 1935’s The Band Concert, Symphony Hour still sees Mickey and the gang performing music as an orchestra, though this time Goofy clumsily drops all of their instruments down an elevator shaft just minutes before show time. Their sponsor, Pete, is outraged to hear the tune of their melodies once the band begins their performance with the crushed instruments, though the audience loves it. Here I think a true display of Disney creativity is shown, and it’s also nice to not only see Mickey as a conductor again, but also see Pete’s furious emotions. This is one of the last appearances by Horace Horsecollar and Clara Cluck. Symphony Hour can be found on the DVD Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume 2.

11.) Alpine Climbers, 1936
When Mickey, Donald, and Pluto go climbing in some snowy mountains, they run into plenty of trouble, including a medicine overdose and an angry mother bird. The cartoon itself isn’t that stellar, but I have fond memories of watching it over and over as it looped around on the classic Disney cartoons channel on the in-room TV at a Walt Disney World resort hotel several years ago. Alpine Climbers is available on the DVDs Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color and Walt Disney’s It’s a Small World of Fun! Volume 3.

10.) The Whoopee Party, 1932
There isn’t really any plot to this story other than Mickey and Minnie throwing a party with a whole bunch of their friends, including Goofy, who was then known as “Dippy Dawg.” All throughout the short, nothing really happens except various characters dancing around the house to a snappy tune. Their happy mood is very infectious, and you can’t help but tapping your toes along to the beat. Because of its pure joyful tone, The Whoopee Party makes my top 12 countdown at #10. The Whoopee Party is available on the DVD Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White.

9.) On Ice, 1935
Not only does this short always guarantee to get me in the holiday mood around Christmastime, but it’s also one of the few cartoons where we see the “Fab Five” all on an outing together. Although it’s billed as a Mickey Mouse cartoon, Mickey equally shares the screen in this short with Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto. Sometimes in certain situations, such as this one in which the characters are ice skating, the cartoon might not have worked so well if it relied on just one character the entire time, but instead would better please audiences if the time was divided amongst different characters to play off of each other. It works out excellently here, where Mickey teaches Minnie to ice skate, Goofy tries to go fishing in a frozen pond, Donald puts ice skates on an unsuspecting sleeping Pluto, and everything comically comes together in true Disney fashion during the last little bit of time. Similar cartoons that involve the Fab Five all together are Hawaiian Holiday (1937) and Mickey’s Birthday Party (1942) (though Pluto is absent from this one). Mickey’s Birthday Party is available on the DVD Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume 2, while On Ice and Hawaiian Holiday are both featured on the DVDs Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color and Walt Disney’s Classic Cartoon Favorites Volume 1: Starring Mickey.

8.) Orphan’s Benefit, 1934 (black & white) and 1941 (color)
The only Mickey Mouse cartoon to my knowledge to be released twice, in different formats and animation styles each time, Orphan’s Benefit is simply hilarious. Although Minnie and Pluto don’t appear, nearly every other Disney character that had been created at that time does. In an effort to put on a show for orphaned children, Mickey and his friends present several variety acts for the kids. Donald sings “Little Boy Blue,” to which the children throw objects at him, causing him to show his true colors and anger problems for the very first time. Goofy and Horace Horsecollar dance a ballet act with Clarabelle Cow, and finally Mickey rounds up the cartoon as he plays piano while Clara Cluck sings her melodious chicken “bwawks.” Again, I like how many different characters are shown at the same time (which was sometimes often in Mickey cartoons, since Mickey wasn’t generally funny by himself), but the real reason for including Orphan’s Benefit in my countdown is Donald getting overly upset when the children ruin his act. It just goes to show that even back in 1934, Disney knew what was funny. The 1934 black-and-white version of Orphan’s Benefit is available on the DVD Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White, while the 1941 color version is on both Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume 2 and Walt Disney’s Classic Cartoon Favorites Volume 6: Extreme Music Fun.

7.) Mickey’s Christmas Carol, 1983
The first time Mickey had appeared in a cartoon since 1953’s The Simple Things, this was the short that aroused his return to the screen, if only for a brief period of time, but it was a triumphant comeback nonetheless. Now a distinguished holiday classic and a favorite of mine to watch during Christmastime, Mickey’s Christmas Carol not only sees the return of Mickey, but also of many members of the animated cast that helmed his shorts in the 30’s. Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar are seen for the first time since 1942’s Symphony Hour, Jiminy Cricket (as the Ghost of Christmas Past) since The Mickey Mouse Club, Willie the Giant (as the Ghost of Christmas Present) since 1947’s Mickey and the Beanstalk, and even the Three Little Pigs can be seen as street carolers. Also of significance, this was just the second time that Scrooge McDuck had appeared on screen, even though he had been adored in classic Disney comics for several decades beforehand. Additionally, this was the last time that Clarence “Ducky” Nash, who had voiced Donald since the duck’s debut in 1934, would ever voice the character and it was also the very first time that Wayne Allwine, who still plays Mickey today, would voice the famous mouse. Mickey’s Christmas Carol can be found on the DVDs Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume 2, Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed In at the House of Mouse, and Walt Disney’s Classic Cartoon Favorites Volume 9: Classic Holiday Stories.

6.) Pluto’s Christmas Tree, 1952
Although this is really more of Pluto, Chip, and Dale’s story than it is Mickey’s, it is indeed labeled as a Mickey Mouse cartoon, and the mouse shows a firm sense of parenthood to Pluto in this short that we often don’t get to see. After all, if your dog had ruined your Christmas tree just to get even with a pair of rascally chipmunks, wouldn’t you get a tad wee bit angry, too? Here, we really get to see some great personality and character clashes with all four aforementioned characters as they contrast with each other that are really a treat to watch. Minnie, Goofy, and Donald even make a cameo at the end, making this the only short (I think) that we ever get to see the “Sensational Seven” all in the same place. Pluto’s Christmas Tree can be found on the DVDs Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume 2, Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed In at the House of Mouse, and Walt Disney’s Classic Cartoon Favorites Volume 9: Classic Holiday Stories.

5.) Steamboat Willie, 1928
OK, you can’t possibly write a Mickey Mouse cartoon countdown without mentioning the short that started it all, 1928’s Steamboat Willie. Although it was indeed the first Mickey cartoon to be shown to the public, it was actually the third to be made. Both Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho were animated before Willie, but were screened after it because Walt Disney wanted to implement the cartoons with sound. In fact, Steamboat Willie was the first cartoon of all time to make use of sound and it was specifically created to put that new technology to its full potential. Rightfully so, the cartoon has plenty of snappy tunes, from its classic opening Steamboat Willie theme to “Turkey in the Straw.” Also making first appearances in this cartoon are Minnie and Pete, both looking significantly different than they do today.

Mickey certainly isn’t concerned about farmyard animals’ safety in this short – he pulls some baby pigs away from their mother so he can play music with her stomach, he plays the xylophone on a goat’s teeth, and he swings a parrot across a room. It’s certainly not the typical Mickey attitude we might see today.

Even though it’s not one of the most elaborate cartoons story-wise, I couldn’t ignore Steamboat Willie from my countdown all together. It was the first appearance of the world-famous Mickey Mouse, and because of having that bragging right, it’s been publicized probably more than any other Mickey cartoon from that early black-and-white era. Additionally, its music and animation, particularly in the famous opening scene, can’t resist putting a smile on your face. Steamboat Willie is available on the DVD Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White.

4.) Touchdown Mickey, 1932
As a football fan, this is one of my very favorite Disney cartoons ever and I still find it outstanding that the Disney animators were at the top of their game even back in 1932. Filled with many instances of physical comedy, we see Mickey’s team (the “Manglers”) play against the “Alley Cats.” This is one of the first times we really see Goofy’s true personality (although here his name is still “Dippy Dawg”), as he commentates from the sidelines, well . . . goofily. This is perhaps one of the funniest Mickey cartoons of the 30’s. Touchdown Mickey is available on the Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White DVD.

3.) The Band Concert, 1935
Not only is this the first Mickey Mouse cartoon ever to be released in color, it’s also one of the first to show a certain something about Mickey’s personality: he can get quite annoyed by other people’s shenanigans. The Band Concert is one of my Mickey favorites for its clash of personalities with Mickey and Donald. When Mickey is conducting a concert in a park, featuring Goofy, Clarabelle Cow, and several others, the mouse absolutely cannot stand Donald butting in the band to play along, disrupting the music. However, Mickey shows his persistence by keeping on conducting the orchestra through Donald’s playtime, and even through a treacherous tornado. The Band Concert is available on the Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color DVD.

2.) Camping Out, 1934
Just downright hilarious, this short uses the physical comedy of bees attacking campers to the extreme, making for some belly laughs throughout the entire cartoon. Mickey, Minnie, Horace Horsecollar, and Clarabelle Cow are all camping in the woods and must defend themselves when a vicious troupe of bees rampage their camp. I never get tired of watching Camping Out and enjoy every minute of it. Camping Out is available on the DVD Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White.

1.) Building a Building, 1933
It’s doesn’t get any better than this, folks. Building a Building is the best of the best, although you’ve probably never even heard of it. In it, Mickey works at a construction site owned by Pete. When Minnie comes by (with a briefly-seen Pluto) to give Mickey a box lunch, Pete wants one of his own and, of course, a rescue mission is pursued by Mickey to save Minnie from Pete. In an awesome little battle sequence, both Mickey and Minnie defend their way against Pete and even exit in a Splash Mountain-type finale. One of the first black-and-white Mickey shorts that I ever saw, Building a Building gave me a great glimpse into Mickey’s past for the first time and exposed me to some of the hilarious gags the Disney animators had up their sleeves at that time in history. It was even parodied in an episode of Nickeloden’s The Fairly OddParents.

I watched Building a Building one time with a group of elementary-age kids who are used to watching Spongebob Squarepants all day, and they all utterly cracked up with joyful laughter when they saw Building a Building. It really gave me a reflective and satisfying feeling to know that something that Walt Disney and his animators had created over seven decades ago could still make children of the 21st century giggle with happiness. That’s what Mickey is all about. And that, I think, would make Walt Disney very proud.

Happy Birthday, Mickey.

By Blake; originally posted November 23, 2008. All images (C) Disney.

DVD Review – Walt Disney Treasures: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

December 29, 2007


Disney’s lost star finally returns home on a delightful 2-disc Walt Disney Treasures set that delivers rare and fun shorts though seems to be straining to come up with related bonus material.

By Blake

Originally posted December 29, 2007.

In the spring of 1928, Walt Disney went through a torturous experience that not only taught him an extremely valuable lesson, but shaped the motion picture industry forever by eventually leading to the creation of Mickey Mouse: he lost the rights to his first real cartoon star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. In a treacherous move, the distributor of the Oswald animated shorts that Walt’s studio had been creating, Charles Mintz, pulled the rug from under Walt’s shoes by stealing nearly all of Walt’s staff and reminding Walt that the Disney Studio didn’t actually own the characters they were creating cartoons of. Meaning that at any time they could be taken away from the studio forever, just like what was about to be done to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Well, on the train ride back home while tossing around ideas for a new cartoon character, Mr. Disney thought of a plucky mouse whose head is shaped of three circles and, well, you can pretty much guess what that led to.

And that’s the infamous story of how Oswald was taken away forever and how Mickey was born. And that’s been the entire story. Until now, that is. In February 2006, in a slick move that no one, not even the Walt Disney Company, was quite expecting, Disney traded football announcer Al Michaels to Universal in exchange for the rights to the Oswald cartoons of the 1920’s, which Universal has legally owned all these years after Walt was jipped.

This brings us to today, when Disney has released their annual set of Walt Disney Treasures DVDs, and this round one of these prestigious 2-disc sets belongs to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Unlike every other volume in the WDT series, Oswald is housed in a snazzy gold tin box, as opposed the silver tin box the other installments are kept in. Inside the case are an Oswald button, a collectible sheet of sketches, a certificate of authenticity that shows the number of your specific DVD out of the 120,000 made, and a code redeemable for Disney Movie Rewards points (a WDT first). And, of course, there are the DVDs themselves.

Disc One
Approx. Total Disc Running Time: 133 mins. (2 hrs., 13 mins.)
Highlight of Disc: The Oswald Shorts
Runner-Up Highlight: “Oswald Comes Home”

Disc One opens with a commercial for Pixar Animated Short Film Collection Vol. 1, followed by an introduction to the disc by our host for the WDT series, Leonard Maltin. The menus of Disc One are easy to navigate, with a distinct bold red star indicating your choice on the screen. There are 13 Oswald shorts presented on Disc One, and bonus features on this disc include an “Oswald Comes Home” featurette, audio commentaries for 5 shorts, a fragment of a missing Oswald short, and a still frame gallery. Having been silent cartoons when they were originally released in the 1920’s, the shorts have been set to music with a brand new score created for each one. Due to the shorts originally being silent, they are abundant with sight gags and physical comedy, making them a pleasure to watch. Additionally, some of the shorts aren’t in the very best quality, as several only existed in 16mm prints to transfer from.

The Oswald Shorts


Trolley Troubles, 1927 (about 6 mins.) – Oswald is the conductor of a trolley, and he’s having a difficult time getting everyone where they need to be in one piece! The trolley continuously is making stops, falling off the tracks, flinging passengers into the air, and eventually gliding nonstop down a hill through plenty of tunnels. This cartoon is just all-around fun to enjoy. You’ll find nearly every Oswald adventure relies on some sort of chase scene to end the short, and this is one of the best presented on the set. The different struggles the trolley goes through are humorous to see, and the way Oswald is resourceful of his surroundings (such as when he temporarily removes his foot to rub is on his face for good luck – get it?) make the cartoon creatively funny.

Oh, Teacher, 1927 (about 6 mins.) – When Oswald’s girlfriend is drowning in a pond, he rushes to save her only to have the credit taken away from him by a rival who soon wins the heart of the floppy-eared female rabbit. In another misinterpretation, the girl rabbit thinks Oswald beat up the rival bully and once again returns to Oswald.

Great Guns!, 1927 (about 7 mins.) – Oswald enlists in the war and terribly misses his rabbit girlfriend. When he eventually gets in a fight and is injured by the general, Oswald ends up in the hospital, in the care of a nurse who happens to be his girlfriend. This short relies heavily on the chemistry and reaction between Oswald and the general, who make a fun rivalry to watch.

The Mechanical Cow, 1927 (about 6 mins.) – As it turns out, Oswald owns a mechanical cow that has all sorts of snazzy contraptions and gadgets. While Oswald impresses his rabbit girlfriend with the mechanical cow, the girlfriend is kidnapped by a villain and it’s up to Oswald to rescue her. This ensues in yet another Oswald chase scene! Eventually the mechanical cow helps Oswald save his rabbit girlfriend and all ends happily. This is one of the shorts that is in somewhat poor quality due to the transfer from 16mm prints. This particular short shows much creativity due to the different uses that the mechanical cow has.

The Ocean Hop, 1927 (about 6 mins.) – Oswald and Pete (that’s right, Peg Leg Pete, the same Pete from the Mickey series!) are in a race by plane to Paris. Reminiscent of the 1928 Mickey short Plane Crazy, Oswald invents a contraption to make a plane and, of course, a chase scene occurs and eventually Pete is beat to Paris by Oswald, who is greeted by cheering bystanders. This cartoon takes a while to pick up speed, but once we get into the plot it’s delightful to watch.

All Wet, 1927 (about 7 mins.) – Even though he’s supposed to be selling hot dogs at the fair, Oswald takes the day off to “fill in” as the lifeguard at the beach (without the real lifeguard’s consent) to impress his rabbit girlfriend. However, when the rabbit girlfriend is drowning, Oswald doesn’t know what to do! Eventually (after much trial and error attempts) Oswald saves her and receives a kiss.

Rival Romeos, 1928 (about 6 mins.) – It seems as though Oswald has dumped his rabbit girlfriend, because in this cartoon he has a new gal, this time a cat. Trying to woo her, Oswald appears outside her window and plays some music for her, only to have his music sheets eaten by a nearby goat. Well, that’s okay, he can just crank the goat’s tail and the music can come out of the mouth (sound familiar, Steamboat Willie fans?). Soon, an angry neighbor gets mad at Oswald for playing disrupting music, and before you know it the plot completely changes as a passerby attempts to win the heart of the cat girlfriend. As Oswald and the rival constantly try to win the girl, she’s eventually taken off into the sunset by neither of them – a completely different guy! This cartoon might have been a better one if it didn’t completely change plots in the middle of the short . . . it went from a funny problem of a complaining neighbor to a totally different concept of competing boyfriends.

Bright Lights, 1928 (about 8 mins.) – Oswald repeatedly tries new ways to get past the guard to snag a free seat for a lavish show at the theater. After several failed attempts, Oswald finally makes it inside, where he ruins the show and accidentally lets many wild animals loose inside the theatre! This short has many uses of Oswald’s body changing form to fit his situation best, which makes it humorous to watch.

Ozzie of the Mounted, 1928 (about 5 mins.) – Oswald is sent to capture the notorious Peg Leg Pete during a snowstorm. Oswald sets out on the expedition with another mechanical pet, though this time it’s a horse. Thus, another Oswald chase scene ensues, first with Oswald chasing Pete, then with a bear chasing Oswald and Pete! This cartoon reminded me of the 1929 Mickey Mouse short The Klondike Kid. This cartoon is also a joy to watch because the chase scene provides plenty of sight gags to enjoy.

Oh, What a Knight, 1928 (about 6 mins.) – Oswald visits the castle where apparently his cat girlfriend lives to sing her a song, when he is interrupted by the cat’s father, an angry bear who doesn’t exactly approve of Oswald and challenges him to a duel. Oswald sword fights the bear and of course wins. This cartoon isn’t exactly one of the best comedy-wise or story-wise, but is nicely animated, with shadows reflected on the walls of the castle as Oswald and the bear fight.

Sky Scrappers, 1928 (about 6 mins.) – VERY much like the 1933 Mickey cartoon Building a Building (nearly down to the second), Oswald is working at a construction site, and his cat girlfriend brings him some scrumptious lunch. Pete gets jealous and eventually it’s another rescue mission to get the girl.

The Fox Chase, 1928 (about 5 mins.) (J) – Another Oswald chase scene! This cartoon is basically one long chase scene, as Oswald enters a fox chase. Once his stubborn horse (who looks very much like Horace Horsecollar) finally gets moving, it’s a mad dash to catch the fox!

Tall Timber, 1928 (about 8 mins.) (J) – Oswald is canoeing down a river and constantly is troubled by the forces of nature, including animals and a giant rock chasing him (ANOTHER Oswald chase scene!). After Oswald escapes the rock, he is again chased, though this time by a bear. This cartoon is very fun to watch, and reminds me somewhat of the Roger Rabbit short Trail Mix-Up.

Disc One Bonus Features
“Oswald Comes Home” (about 14 mins.) – A look at the history of Oswald and how he returned home to the Walt Disney Company. It includes interviews with Disney execs Bob Iger and Roy Disney, plus Diane Disney Miller, Don Iwerks, and several animation historians who pipe in to share info. A very fascinating feature on the disc, this is definitely one of the highlights of the set, as it shows us the evolution of the Disney studio and the importance the Oswald shorts were to the company’s future success.

Audio Commentaries (about 36 mins.) – Audio commentaries for six of the Oswald shorts (The Ocean Hop, Oh Teacher, Oh What a Knight, Bright Lights, Ozzie of the Mounted, and The Fox Chase) with WDT host Leonard Maltin and animation historians Jerry Beck and Mark Kausler. For the most part they only point out to us who animated the scene we’re watching, and tell us to pay attention to the way the characters are drawn. While a nice addition to the disc, after watching all six of them they do seem to get a bit generic.

Sagebrush Sadie (about 1 min.) – As it turns out, Disney wasn’t able to retrieve all of the Oswald shorts after they acquired the rights to them! Sagebrush Sadie is one of the “missing” Oswald cartoons that doesn’t anymore exist in its entirety, but Disney was able to retrieve this tiny bit from it, which is presented here.

Art Gallery (self-guided) – A pleasant feature that pops up often on WDT volumes, this is a selection of still frame artwork pieces from the Oswald shorts. While the art is very neat to see, the downside to this feature is that there’s no slideshow option, and so to see every piece of art you have to continuously push your remote control. Additionally, you can’t view all the art at once. After seeing every eight pieces, you have to return to the menu and select the next page of art.

Disc Two
Approx. Total Disc Running Time: 132 mins (1 hr., 12 mins.)
Highlight of Disc: The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story
Highlight Runner-Up: “After Oswald” Shorts


Disc Two is all bonus material, and its contents seem to be tied on a very thin string in relation to Oswald. Disc Two’s menus are more difficult to navigate than Disc One’s because your selection on the screen is identified by a white Mickey glove . . . which ends up somewhat difficult to see on a white background. Disc Two includes a full-length feature film, as well as “Before Oswald” and “After Oswald” shorts.

Disc Two Bonus Features
The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story (about 92 mins.) – An entire full-length feature film that was originally released by Disney in 1999, this is a biographical story of the man who virtually drew the entire Oswald and Mickey collection single-handedly (and the one who created the design for Mickey), Ub Iwerks. The only animator who didn’t turn on Walt when Oswald was stolen, Iwerks stayed loyal to the Disney Studio until Walt began getting the spotlight for Iwerks’ work. Eventually parting from Disney and setting up his own animation studio, Iwerks struggled to achieve the success he had had at Disney. A few years later he returned to Disney, where he continuously achieved technological heights, and changed the motion picture industry forever by inventing clever contraptions, such as the breakthrough that allowed those dancing penguins to duet with Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Eventually Iwerks died of a heart attack in 1971. The documentary is intriguing and fascinating, though gets a tad on the boring side by the end. Additionally, it doesn’t exactly relate to Oswald, the topic of this DVD. It does has a few minutes concerning Iwerks’ contribution to the Oswald shorts, but that’s about it. While the documentary is a welcome addition to the disc, it has me thinking that Disney was struggling to find bonus features while creating this DVD set.

Ub Iwerks animates Mickey Mouse. Iwerks was responsible for most of the animation in the Oswald and early Mickey shorts of the 1920’s and 1930’s and returned to Disney to provide innovative technologies to improve the entertainment industry.

“Before Oswald” Shorts (about 22 mins.) – Three shorts from the “Alice Comedies” series, a Disney cartoon series before Oswald that involved a live-action little girl in the cartoon world. Fortunately, the three shorts presented here aren’t repeats from the 2005 Disney Rarities WDT set, but unfortunately, they’re the same, dragged-on style as the other Alice shorts. I’ve never really liked the Alice series because they seem to have no real plot to them, and solely rely on slapstick gags for laughs instead of the story. On this set we have Alice Gets Stung (where Alice torments a bear, who sends a swarm of bees after her), Alice In the Wooly West (where animals hurt each other in the west, again with no real plot), and Alice’s Balloon Race (where animals continuously injure each other just to win a stinkin’ balloon race). I’ve never been a real big fan of the Alice Comedies anyway, and I don’t really see the relation between Alice and Oswald. Sure, Alice was made before Oswald . . . but why is that a reason to include the Alice shorts on this set?

The first Mickey Mouse cartoon ever released, the classic Steamboat Willie, is included on the “After Oswald” section of the Walt Disney Treasures: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit DVD.

“After Oswald” Shorts (about 20 mins.) – Again, these don’t really have anything to do with Oswald other than they were released after his cartoons were. Presented here are two Mickey shorts recycled from Mickey Mouse in Black & White Vol. 1, Steamboat Willie (the classic first ever appearance of Mickey and Minnie on a riverboat, as they play music using various animals) and Plane Crazy (where Mickey takes Minnie out for a flight in a home-made plane, much to Minnie’s dismay); as well as a classic Silly Symphonies short, The Skeleton Dance (where skeletons rise from their grave to perform random dance moves). While these cartoons are artistically and musically wonderful, they’re bonus material recycled from sets that I already own. I suppose the real incentive for these cartoons’ inclusion on this Oswald set is for those that starting liking the Walt Disney Treasures series after the first few rounds of installments were released (which included these early shorts) and haven’t already seen them, in which case this will be a real treat.

Wrapping It Up
It truly is wonderful to finally witness the legendary footage of Walt Disney’s long-lost cartoon character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, after all these years of having it deprived from Disney. Oswald is plucky, resourceful, and courageous; and his shorts are fun and whimsical to watch. The cartoons are presented in reasonable quality for having been transferred from such poor condition and the shorts’ audio commentaries are a nice touch to give us a little more insight on the cartoons. It’s nice that Disney has included the full-length Iwerks feature and the bonus Alice and Mickey cartoons on the disc, but they really don’t seem to relate to the set’s topic much. Perhaps if the other 13 lost Oswald shorts were retrieved it would have made a nicer DVD package, though for the time it’s just wonderful that the found material was restored and presented here. It definitely is nice to have Oswald home again, when at one time we thought Walt Disney’s first ever lead cartoon character would be lost forever.

How do I rank Walt Disney Treasures: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit? (Bolded is my choice.)

  • Aaaaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

Walt Disney Treasures: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit will most likely please: Disney Fans – Kids (ages 5-7) – Old Folks

By Blake; posted December 29, 2007. All images (C) Disney.