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    Other Side Of Maleficent

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    Renegades of Animation: Pat Sullivan

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Walt Disney and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

Discussion in 'Silent Animation' started by sidestreetsam, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Greetings, Acolytes!

    In 1927, because of cost and technical restrictions, Disney and his chief animator Ub Iwerks decided to end their work on the Alice Comedies series in search of new creative opportunities. Coincidentally, Universal Studios wanted to get into the cartoon business and needed a cartoon character of its own. So Disney's distributor Charles Mintz told Disney and Iwerks to create a new character they could sell to Universal. Wanting to make cartoons with an all-animated look, Disney signed a contract with Universal Studios leading to the creation of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Universal's first cartoon series.

    Disney chose to make the character a rabbit since there were so many animated cats (Felix the Cat, Krazy Kat) at the time. Universal was given the right to name the rabbit and it selected a name out of a hat.

    The first Oswald cartoon, Poor Papa, was rejected by the Universal studio heads for its poor production quality and the sloppiness and age of Oswald. Disney, together with Iwerks, decided to create a second cartoon titled Trolley Troubles featuring a much younger, neater Oswald. The short, released on September 5, 1927, officially launched the series and proved to be Disney's greatest success to date. Poor Papa was finally released a year later renamed Mickey's Nightmare. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit became Disney's first major hit in 1927, rivaling other popular cartoon characters, such as Felix the Cat and Koko the Clown.

    Here is the first official Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Trolley Troubles. The various comedy bits found therein were remade almost scene for scene as the Warner Bros. Merrie Melodie cartoon Smile, Darn Ya, Smile! released on October 3, 1931. Hugh Harman was the primary animator on both films.

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  2. peterhale

    peterhale Moderator Staff Member I SUPPORT BCDB!

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    Just one slight correction: Poor Papa was indeed released later (August 6, 1928) but under the same name. Mickey's Nightmare (as you might expect!) is a Mickey Mouse cartoon, from 1932, which re-uses the same plot - Mickey dreams he marries Minnie: all is fine until the storks start to arrive.... (It also echoed Mickey's Orphans from 1931.)
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  3. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Hey, peterhale!

    Your absolutely right! Poor Papa was released later in the series as you noted. Next thing you know I'm talking about a similar Mickey Mouse short! Not sure where I was going with that.

    Here's Oh, Teacher, the third Oswald short produced.

    Oswald the Lucky Rabbit rides to his girlfriend's house on a bicycle. On the way he asks a daisy if she loves him in the standard She loves me/She loves me not way. A cat then steals Oswald's bike and his girlfriend. Oswald, ready to bludgeon the cat with a brick, patiently waits. The cat finds him and accidentally knocks himself out with the brick. Oswald pretends to have beaten him up, and gets back his girlfriend.

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
  4. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Greetings, Folks!

    During his days under Disney, Oswald was one of the first cartoon characters that had personality. Not only were gags used, but his humor differed in terms of what he used to make people laugh. He presented physical humor, used situations to his advantage, and frustration comedy best shown in the cartoon The Mechanical Cow. He would make use of animal limbs to solve problems and even use his own limbs as props and gags. He could be squished as if he was made of rubber and could turn anything into tools. His distinct personality was inspired by Douglas Fairbanks for his courageous and adventurous attitude as seen in the cartoon short Oh, What a Knight.

    The Mechanical Cow, released on October 3, 1927, opens with Oswald attempting to get the cow out of bed. When he succeeds, Oswald gets on the cow's back, shouting "MILK! MILK!" He gets some milk for a baby hippopotamus. When Fanny, Oswald's girlfriend, comes over, Oswald tries to flirt with Fanny. Suddenly, a car with some dark, unidentified figures appears, and the figures steal Fanny. In an attempt to rescue her, Oswald quickly starts a streak of surreal moves, including taking the cow's neck and bending it into a C-shape so when a bullet comes, it is shot back in the direction of the dark figures. The dark figures end up falling into a lake, and Oswald and Fanny walk off with the cow.

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  5. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Greetings, Gang!

    In Great Guns! released in October 17, 1927, Oswald goes to war. Upon doing this, he gets quite closed to injured and uses an elephant as a cannon. One cannonball from the enemies and he is turned into dust. Using a cocktail shaker, Oswald's girlfriend shakes him in it. When she pours him out, Oswald is in the form of a rabbit again.

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  6. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    Great Guns! was followed by the cartoon All Wet starring Oswald as a life guard directed by Ub Iwerks and animated by the entire Disney animation staff.

  7. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Y'all!

    The next cartoon in the series, The Ocean Hop, stars Oswald as an aviator attempting to cross the Atlantic. Peg-Leg Pete is once again his nemesis. A few sequences went missing when the cartoon was reissued. Animated by Hugh Harman and Rollin Hamilton.

  8. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Students of Animation!

    The next three Oswald cartoons, The Banker's Daughter, Empty Socks, and Rickety Gin, are now considered to be lost films. They contain the first on-screen animation credits for Friz Freleng.

    The first Oswald cartoon of the 1928 season was Harem Scarem. Animation drawings from a small part of this film survive. These drawings were compiled by Disney into a video clip in 2012. Animated by Hugh Harman and Rollin Hamilton.

  9. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    The next three Oswald cartoons, Neck 'n' Neck, The Ol' Swimmin' Hole, and Africa Before Dark are now considered lost films although a fragment of Africa Before Dark has recently surfaced. Here is the next release, Rival Romeos.

  10. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Hey, Animation Gang!

    Previously in 1927, Oswald had an oval face, a chubbier waist, and pants with a single suspender. By 1928, he's given a makeover in having a rounder head, a slimmer waist, and shorts. Despite this change, the rabbit's 1927 appearance would still appear on the title cards until High Up. His shorts would be his only outfit until the year 1930.

    A show composed of a concert, circus acts and broadway was taking place at a theater in the city. One of the stars of the show was a lady cat dancer whom Oswald suddenly had affection for upon seeing a poster. For admission, patrons had to pay 50 cents. Unfortunately for Oswald, his pockets are empty.

    Oswald noticed a stage entrance where performers and certain officials can come in, and admission was unnecessary. Because of this, Oswald came up with idea of impersonating a performer by bulging his chest (possibly pretending to be a stuntman). The guard by the door wasn't deceived and started preventing the penniless rabbit from coming in. After a bit of a struggle, Oswald tied the guard to a lamp post and proceeded toward the inside of the theater. However, he was forced back outside by the glaring performers.

    While thinking of way to get back in, Oswald saw a man in a thick fur coat coming out of a taxi and heading towards the theater entrance. Oswald went on by hiding under the man's shadow. As the man with the coat was entering, the guard became suspicious upon noticing a lump on the shadow. Thinking he made it inside undetected, Oswald came out but doesn't notice the guard approaching him. When he learned that guard was right behind, Oswald quickly made his move.

    Oswald prevailed in losing the guard by going inside a cage. However, he was met with more trouble when the cage contained a jaguar. The jaguar chased the him into the stage where acrobats were doing a balancing act with a long pole. Oswald climbed up the pole and grabbed the ceiling for his safety. One of the acrobats also went up the pole also and clung onto the rabbit's legs. Bothered by having someone hanging under him, Oswald grabs a mallet and strikes off the acrobat. Oswald also plunged by not holding on anything and dropped on the jaguar. The jaguar was angered more than ever and the frightened Oswald fled the stage.

    Other vicious animals, such as the lions, broke out of their cages, forcing everyone else to leave the theater. Believing everyone disappeared from the scene, Oswald came out of a toilet booth, only to realize that one lion was still in the vicinity. The lion starts chasing him into the horizon.

  11. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Hey, Animation Gang!

    The next Oswald cartton, Sagebrush Sadie, is a lost cartoon, but a small fragment of a pencil test has survived.

  12. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Yowza, Gang!

    Ride 'Em Plowboy, the next Oswald cartoon released is now considered a lost cartoon. The following cartoon, Ozzie of the Mounted, survives almost complete, though a few sequences are still missing.

    Animated by Ub Iwerks, Hugh Harman, Rollin Hamilton, Ben Clopton, and Les Clark.

  13. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    The next cartoon in the series, Hungry Hoboes (alternate spelling: Hungry Hobos), is a 1928 American silent animation directed by Walt Disney featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Peg-Leg Pete.

    The film was found in 2011 in the Huntley Film Archives after having been lost since before World War II. The Walt Disney Company later acquired the film at auction for US$31,250.

    The short was then painstakingly restored in a year-long digital restoration. Hungry Hoboes re-debuted in Telluride, Colorado as part of a special animation shorts program presented by leading film historian and restoration expert Serge Bromberg at the 39th Annual Telluride Film Festival.

    The print of this cartoon has yet to be re-released by the Walt Disney Company.
  14. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Gang!

    Oh, What a Knight is an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit an American animated short film directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, and released in 1928 by The Walt Disney Studio. The film features Oswald trying to save his girlfriend Ortensia from her strict father, Pete, using unusual fighting skills, including him using his own shadow.

    This short cartoon shows Oswald distinct personality inspired by Douglas Fairbanks for his courageous and adventurous attitude.

    The action takes place in the Middle Ages. Pete is a strict father who keeps his daughter, Ortensia, in isolation within their family castle. Oswald is the potential lover of the girl who is trying to release her. Oswald duels with Pete and then uses an anachronistic bowling ball to take out his men. He makes his escape with the girl, only to be confronted by the final defense of a hostile lion. The two lovers escape the castle using a parachute and kiss as they make their fall. The use of the parachute presumably places the events after its first recorded use by Armen Firman in 852.

  15. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    Here's the next Oswald cartoon release, Sky Scrappers.

  16. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Hey, Gang!

    Sky Srappers was followed by Oswald in The Fox Chase.

  17. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    Oswald was canoeing down a rough river. Upon reaching his destination, which is the lake, Oswald brought out his rifle and decides to go duck hunting. The ducks, however, were quite clever, and Oswald ends up shooting a hole in his boat, thus sinking it. Fortunately, he was unintendedly brought to dry ground by a moose.

    While walking downhill, Oswald was being chased by a boulder. His efforts to outrun the large rock were in vain as it rammed him flat against a tree. In an attempt to restore his normal shape, Oswald dropped a smaller rock on top of him. This resulted in him having a more spherical physique, making it difficult for him to walk.

    As he went walking, Oswald stumbled and started tumbling on the ground. In his path, two bear cubs were drinking syrup from maple trees. The rolling rabbit ran into one of them, causing that bear to be thrown upward. The cub's fall was cushioned when the Oswald rolled back. Amazed by Oswald's bloated shape and bouncy qualities, the bears began using him as a trampoline. Not willing to share with each other, the bears started pulling Oswald from opposite sides, stretching him back to his original form. Annoyed by their antics, Oswald chased one of the bears to what looks like a tree stump. The stump turned out to be the mother of bears who then chases Oswald into a cave. Upon entering the cave, Oswald and the big bear went into a tussle. Ironically, the big bear came out with no fur on its torso and runs in embarrassment. Oswald, however, comes out wearing the big bear's fur like a jacket and celebrates with a cigar.

    Tall Timber was the 23rd Oswald cartoon released.

  18. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    Closing up the 1927 season are two currently lost cartoons, Sleigh Bells, and Hot Dog. Poor Papa, the first Oswald cartoon produced in the series (in 1927) was initially rejected but finally released as the last cartoon of 1927.

    The first three cartoons released in 1928, High Up, Mississippi Mud, and Panicky Pancakes are also considered to be lost films.

    In the spring of 1928, Disney traveled to New York City in hopes of negotiating a more profitable contract with his producer Charles Mintz. But as economic problems were apparent at the time, Mintz figured Disney should settle for a 20% cut, although large turnarounds were promised if the studio's finances showed considerable growth. While his fellow animators remained at Mintz's studio, Disney decided to quit his job and therefore leave the character he created.

    On his long train ride home, he came up with an idea to create another character, and retain rights to it. He and Iwerks would go on to develop a new cartoon in secret, starring a new character which would soon become the most successful and popular cartoon character in film history and later become the foundation of a global entertainment empire.
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  19. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Greetings, Gate!

    The next short, Fiery Firemen, was Friz Freleng's first directorial co-credit, along with Rudolph Ising. While Disney was back East battling it out with Mintz over the control of Oswald, we can see from viewing this short that everything in the animation department was swell! The animation is better than ever with smooth transitions and clever setups. Friz Freleng, Rudy Ising, Carmen Maxwell, Ben Clopton and Rollin Hamilton would all end up at Warner Brothers in the early thirties. Their contributions to these films have a very distinctive stamp... instantly recognizable!

    Oswald is a fire fighter who is seen resting in bed inside the fire department. Also lying in bed beside him is his colleague, a horse.
    One day, a tenement building went ablaze and calls for help from the scene were audible miles away. Oswald and his horse were at first reluctant to leaving their bed but still managed to rush toward the site on time.

    During their first rescue mission, Oswald scales a building to the floor where stranded mice are waiting. Oswald provides them a long rope which they used to slide downward. Next, Oswald and his companion moved to another building to salvage a hippo. Inside their targeted room, they found the hippo unconscious and started to carry it out the window. While Oswald was walking down the ladder and carrying the hippo, the massive weight of the large animal caused the ladder to collapse and those two to plummet into the sidewalk, leaving a hole. Nevertheless, Oswald comes out through a basement door, carrying the hippo single-handedly. The hippo regains consciousness.

  20. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    Greetings, Students of Animation!

    Iwerks had warned Disney in January 1928 that certain "renegades" on his staff had plans of departing, but Disney gave the matter little thought. When Disney went to New York in February, however, to renew his contract with Mintz, he discovered that Iwerks' concern was very real. Mintz had already begun offering Disney's animators and gagmen more promising contracts to work at a studio of his own.

    Mintz wanted control of Oswald, just as he had control of Ben Harrison's and Manny Gould's Krazy Kat production house in New York. Mintz wanted Disney as his employee—and to be fair, he had offered promising contracts in the past. Now, though, when Disney requested bigger budgets for the Oswald films, Mintz turned on him. Walt would agree to a budget cut rather than a raise—or himself be cut out of the production scheme. Oswald belonged to Universal, and Mintz controlled the decision-making process. Aggravated Disney declined Mintz's budget cut and formally disassociated himself from Oswald, leaving New York for Los Angeles on March 13.

    It's unfortunate but the remaining cartoons for the 1928 season have not been preserved and are now considered lost. The titles in order are as follows; Rocks and Socks, South Pole Flight, Bull-Oney (directed by Walter Lantz and Tom Palmer), and A Horse Tale. The final film of 1928, Farmyard Follies, survives with some sequences missing.

    It's difficult to assess Disney's contributions to these last few Oswald cartoons that he may have worked on. The situation is somewhat complicated by the large number of cartoon shorts missing from this period.

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