Wilfred Jackson & Walt Disney (1935)

The Band Concert is an animated short film produced in 3-strip Technicolor by Walt Disney Productions and released by United Artists. It was the 73rd Mickey Mouse short film to be released, and the second of that year. The Band Concert was the first Mickey Mouse film produced in color.

The Band Concert was directed by Wilfred Jackson and featured adapted music by Leigh Harline. The only speaking character in the film is Donald Duck who is performed by voice actor Clarence Nash. The film remains one of the most highly acclaimed of the Disney shorts. The story is about a small music band conducted by Mickey Mouse which struggles through a distraction-filled public performance.

Although The Band Concert did not receive any Academy Award nominations, it has nonetheless become one of the most highly acclaimed Disney short films.

“None of the dozens of works produced in America at the same time in all the other arts can stand comparison with this one.”

Gilbert Seldes, Esquire Magazine

The Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini was such a fan of The Band Concert that he saw it six times in the theater and later invited Walt Disney to his home in Italy.

“one of the best cartoons ever made anywhere… There are nuances of expression in Mickey’s character throughout this film that had seldom been explored in earlier shorts. The pacing is also entirely different from the standard Mickey Mouse comedies of the early thirties. Instead of trying to pack in a thousand gags a minute, The Band Concert takes its time and builds to a crescendo.”

Leonard Maltin, Film Critic

Ub Iwerks (1935)

Flora and fauna come out to celebrate the beginning of summertime, but old Man winter just doesn’t want to let go yet.

The sun gathers its strength to shine bright and melt the ice of Winter so that Spring may begin. However, Old Man Winter is unwilling to go quietly. He tricks the groundhog into believing that he has seen his shadow so that Winter can be prolonged. The other creatures of the forest ban together to ward off Old Man Winter, with fauns and centaurs leading the battle.

Ub Iwerks was an American animator, cartoonist, character designer, inventor, and special effects technician, who designed Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse. Iwerks produced alongside Walt Disney and won numerous awards, including multiple Academy Awards.

Animated by Steve Bosustow, Jimmie Culhane, Al Eugster, Grim Natwick, & Berny Wolf.

Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson & Hamilton Luske (1951)

Alice in Wonderland is a 1951 American animated musical fantasy comedy film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the Alice books by Lewis Carroll. The thirteenth release of Disney’s animated features, the film premiered in London on July 26, 1951, and in New York City on July 28, 1951. The film features the voices of Kathryn Beaumont as Alice, Sterling Holloway as the Cheshire Cat, Verna Felton as the Queen of Hearts, and Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter. Walt Disney first tried to adapt Alice into a feature-length animated film in the 1930s and revived the idea in the 1940s. The film was originally intended to be a live-action/animated film; however, Disney decided to make it a fully animated film in 1946.

The film was considered a disappointment on its initial release, therefore was shown on television as one of the first episodes of Disneyland. Its 1974 re-release in theaters proved to be much more successful, leading to subsequent re-releases, merchandising and home video releases. Although the film received generally negative critical reviews on its initial release, it has been more positively reviewed over the years.

In fall 1945, shortly after the war ended, Disney revived Alice in Wonderland and hired British author Aldous Huxley to re-write the script. Huxley devised a story in which Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell (the inspiration for Alice) were misunderstood and persecuted following the book’s publication. In Huxley’s story, stage actress Ellen Terry was sympathetic to both Carroll and Liddell, and Queen Victoria served as the deus ex machina, validating Carroll due to her appreciation for the book. Disney considered child actress Margaret O’Brien for the title role. However, he felt that Huxley’s version was too literal an adaptation of Carroll’s book. Background artist Mary Blair submitted some concept drawings for Alice in Wonderland. Blair’s paintings moved away from Tenniel’s detailed illustrations by taking a modernist stance, using bold and unreal colors. Walt liked Blair’s designs, and the script was re-written to focus on comedy, music, and the whimsical side of Carroll’s books.

Around this time, Disney considered making a live-action-and-animated version of Alice in Wonderland (similar to his short Alice Comedies) that would star Ginger Rogers and would utilize the recently developed sodium vapor process. Lisa Davis (who later voiced Anita Radcliffe in One Hundred and One Dalmatians) and Luana Patten were also considered for the role of Alice. However, Disney soon realized that he could only do justice to the book by making an all-animated feature and, in 1946, work began on Alice in Wonderland. With the film tentatively scheduled for release in 1950, animation crews on Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella effectively competed against each other to see which film would finish first. By early 1948, Cinderella had progressed further than Alice in Wonderland.

A legal dispute with Dallas Bower’s 1949 film version was also under way. Disney sued to prevent release of the British version in the U.S., and the case was extensively covered in Time magazine. The company that released the British version accused Disney of trying to exploit their film by releasing its version at virtually the same time.

James Algar & Jack Kinney (1949)

The Wind in the Willows is the first segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, narrated by Basil Rathbone. The other half of the animated feature was based on the unrelated short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It was reissued as a stand-alone short in the 1950s.

The Wind in the Willows is based on the children’s book by the British novelist Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. Alternating between slow- and fast-paced, it focuses on four anthropomorphic animals: Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger. They live in a pastoral version of Edwardian England.

Norman Ferguson, Jack Kinney, John Elliotte, Wilfred Jackson, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen, Samuel Armstrong (1941)

Meet Dumbo, Mrs. Jumbo’s sweet little “Baby Mine” who charms all who see him, until it’s discovered that he has huge floppy ears! With the support of his very best friend, Timothy the mouse, Dumbo soon learns that his spectacular ears make him unique and special, allowing him to soar to fame as the world’s only flying elephant.

In 1941, in order to compensate for the relative poor box office of Pinocchio and Fantasia, Disney produced a low-budget feature film, Dumbo. Dumbo was a major hit and today is one of the most critically acclaimed animated movies ever made. Just a few days after rough animation was complete on Dumbo, the Disney animators’ strike broke out. This was caused by the Screen Cartoonists’ Guild, who severed many ties between Walt Disney and his staff, while encouraging many members of the Disney studio to leave and seek greener pastures. Later that year, Dumbo became a big success, the first time since Snow White. The critically acclaimed film brought in much-needed revenue and kept the studio afloat.

Dumbo is a 1941 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The fourth Disney animated feature film, it is based upon the storyline written by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl illustrated by Helen Durney for the prototype of a novelty toy. The main character is Jumbo Jr., a semi-anthropomorphic elephant who is cruelly nicknamed “Dumbo”, as in “dumb”. He is ridiculed for his big ears, but in fact he is capable of flying by using his ears as wings. Throughout most of the film, his only true friend, aside from his mother, is the mouse, Timothy – a relationship parodying the stereotypical animosity between mice and elephants.

Dumbo was released on October 23, 1941; made to recoup the financial losses of Fantasia, it was a deliberate pursuit of simplicity and economy for the Disney studio. At 64 minutes, it is one of Disney’s shortest animated features. Sound was recorded conventionally using the RCA System. One voice was synthesized using the Sonovox system, but it, too, was recorded using the RCA System.

In 2017, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

A live-action adaptation of the film directed by Tim Burton is scheduled to be released on March 29, 2019.

Written by Otto Englander, Bill Peet, Joe Grant, Joe Rinaldi, Aurelius Battaglia, Harold Pearl, Helen Aberson, Webb Smith, Vernon Stallings, and Dick Huemer.

Starring Edward Brophy, Billy Bletcher, Malcolm Hutton, John McLeish, Verna Felton, Eddie Holden, The King’s Men, James Baskett, Jim Carmichael, Harold Manley, Noreen Gammill, Hall Johnson Choir, Sterling Holloway, Cliff Edwards, Verna Felton, and Herman Bing.

Burt Gillett (1937)

Happy Halloween!

Hobo Moon Cartoons aims to preserve the beloved Halloween classics of yesteryear for future generations to enjoy!

Spend this Devil’s Night with Mickey and the gang as they attempt to eradicate three ghosts from an abandoned haunted house. Lonesome Ghosts is a 1937 Disney animated cartoon, released through RKO Radio Pictures on December 24, 1937, three days after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made its debut. It was directed by Burt Gillett, written by Dick Friel, and animated by Izzy Klein, Ed Love, Milt Kahl, Marvin Woodward, Bob Wickersham, Clyde Geronimi, Dick Huemer, Dick Williams, Art Babbitt, and Rex Cox.

This short marked the first use of one of Goofy’s catchphrases, “Somethin’ wrong here!”.

Walt Disney Productions (1983)

Happy Halloween!

Now here is a corny educational film for ya. It’s obvious Disney didn’t put much time and effort into this one, but it’s fun nonetheless. Disney’s Haunted Halloween is a 1983 American animated educational short film, It is a montage piece telling children about the history of Halloween, hosted by Goofy and the jack o’lantern from Disney’s Halloween Treat. Intermixed throughout it are numerous clips from many different Disney cartoons, plus footage of the Disney attraction The Haunted Mansion.

Jack Kinney & Clyde Geronimi (1949)

Happy Halloween!

Hobo Moon Cartoons aims to preserve the beloved Halloween classics of yesteryear for future generations to enjoy!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, a 1949 animated adaptation produced by Walt Disney, narrated by Bing Crosby, and directed by Jack Kinney & Clyde Geronimi. It is an animated cartoon adaptation of the gothic short story written by Washington Irving in 1819.

I always loved this animated adaptation of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as a child. However, it was as an adult that I truly discovered Washington Irving and found him to be a great American Author and fell in love with the way in which he was able to string together an interesting and imaginative tale. Upon reading the short story, I was pleasantly pleased to find how Disney’s take was strikingly similar to the original. I hope you enjoy this classic as much as I have throughout my life. Happy Hallowe’en, and don’t forget to stay scared.

To read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow written by Washington Irving in its entirety click here: https://hobomooncartoons.com/2020/10/03/the-legend-of-sleepy-hollow/

Tim Burton & Danny Elfman (2005)

Inspired by Walt Disney’s and Ub Iwerks’ Silly Symphonies animated short The Skeleton Dance,
Tim Burton pays homage to the frolicking skeletons of swing in this fun little diddy, Remains of the Day.

Happy Halloween!

Hey!
Give me a listen, you corpses of cheer.
Least less of you who still got an ear,
I’ll tell ‘ya a story, make your skeleton cry,
of our own judiciously lovely corpse bride.
Die, die we all pass away, but don’t wear a frown ‘cuz it’s really okay.
You might try n’ hide, and you might try n’ pray,
but we all end up the remains of the day.

Die die die yeah yeah, die die die.

Well! Our girl is a beauty known for miles around.
A mysterious stranger came into town.
He was plenty good lookin’ but down on his cash,
and our poor little baby she fell hard and fast,
when her daddy said no, she just couldn’t cope,
so our lovers came up with a plan to elope.

Die, die we all pass away, but don’t wear a frown ‘cuz it’s really okay.
You might try n’ hide, and you might try n’ pray,
but we all end up the remains of the day.

Die die die yeah yeah,
die die die yeah yeah
die die die yeah yeah
die die die yeah yeah

Yeah, so they conjured up a plan to meet late at night,
they told not a soul kept the whole thing tight.
Now her mother’s wedding dress fit like a glove,
you don’t need much when you’re really in love.
Except for a few things or so I’m told,
like the family jewels and a satchel of gold.
Then next to the graveyard by the old oak tree,
on a dark foggy night at a quarter to three,
she was ready to go, but where was he?

(And then?) She waited
(And then?) There in the shadows, was it a man?
(And then?) Her little heart beat sooo loud!
(And THEN?) And then baby, everything went black.

Now when she opened her eyes, she was dead as dust, her jewels were missin’ and her heart was bust, so she made a vow lyin’ under that tree
that she’d wait for her true love to come set her free.
Always waitin’ for someone to ask for her hand, when outta the blue comes this groovy young man, who vows forever, to be by her side, and that’s the story of our own, corpse bride

Die, die we all pass away, but don’t wear a frown ‘cuz it’s really okay.
You might try n’ hide, and you might try n’ pray,
but we all end up the remains of the day.

Clyde Geronimi, Jack Hannah & Wilfred Jackson (1956)

Happy Halloween!

Hobo Moon Cartoons aims to preserve the beloved Halloween classics of yesteryear for future generations to enjoy!

Clip from Disneyland episode The Great Cat Family narrated by Walt Disney. I love the spooky visuals and gorgeous vintage animation.

Walt talks about the cat family, primarily focusing on lions and domestic cats. It is explained particularly on the cats’ importance to ancient Egypt and how some people would respect them, and others would fear them as superstitious beings.

Walt then shows the cats of fiction by showing clips from his past films. He recounts Pinocchio’s friendship with Figaro, Alice’s pet Dina and meeting with the crazy Cheshire Cat and how Cinderella’s mouse friends barely escaped the clutches of Lucifer. Finally, he shows a classic cartoon featuring Lambert, the “black sheep” of the great cat family.

Until now, only the first 13 minutes with Walt discussing the history of cats in Egypt to their superstitious origins had been available as a bonus on home video releases of The Aristocats. These first 13 minutes were trimmed down, specifically without Walt’s footage, for A Disney Halloween (1983) where it was then followed by the Siamese musical number from Lady and the Tramp, which for whatever reason wasn’t included in this program.

Wilfred Jackson (1931)

Happy Halloween!

Hobo Moon Cartoons aims to preserve the beloved Halloween classics of yesteryear for future generations to enjoy!

Egyptian Melodies is a 1931 Silly Symphonies animated short cartoon produced by Walt Disney and directed by Wilfred Jackson. It follows a brave little spiders journey into the heart of a dark and eerie Egyptian tomb where he awakens several mummies from their slumber who begin to dance as the hieroglyphics come to life.

Wilfred Jackson (1937)

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Hobo Moon Cartoons aims to preserve the beloved Halloween classics of yesteryear for future generations to enjoy!

The Old Mill is a 1937 Silly Symphony cartoon produced by Walt Disney, directed by Wilfred Jackson, scored by Leigh Harline, and released to theatres by RKO Radio Pictures on November 5, 1937. The film depicts the natural community of animals populating an old abandoned windmill in the country, and how they deal with a severe summer thunderstorm that nearly destroys their habitat. It incorporates the song One Day When We Were Young from Johann Strauss II’s operetta The Gypsy Baron.

Like many of the later Silly SymphoniesThe Old Mill was a testing ground for advanced animation techniques. Marking the first use of Disney’s multiplane camera, the film also incorporates realistic depictions of animal behavior, complex lighting and color effects, depictions of rain, wind, lightning, ripples, splashes and reflections, three-dimensional rotation of detailed objects, and the use of timing to produce specific dramatic and emotional effects. All of the lessons learned from making The Old Mill would subsequently be incorporated into Disney’s feature-length animated films, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), which was released a month later, as well as Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940) and Bambi (1942).

In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

I hope you enjoy The Old Mill as much as I do!

David Hand (1933)

The Mad Doctor is a classic Mickey Mouse cartoon released in 1933.
It is known as the first appearance of the title character “The Mad Doctor”, or “Dr. XXX”.

Happy Halloween!

Hobo Moon Cartoons aims to preserve the beloved Halloween classics of yesteryear for future generations to enjoy!

The short’s horror overtones made it unusual for a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Some theaters refused to show it, believing it to be too scary for kids. At one time, for this reason, it was banned entirely in the United Kingdom, as well as Nazi Germany.

The short’s horror overtones made it unusual for a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Some theaters refused to show it, believing it to be too scary for kids. At one time, for this reason, it was banned entirely in England.

The short’s title character had a cameo in the Roger Rabbit short Tummy Trouble, in which he was seen on a picture. You can view Tummy Trouble by following this link: https://hobomooncartoons.com/2019/04/08/roger-rabbit-in-tummy-trouble/

This cartoon is one of a few Disney shorts that lapsed into the public domain.

Jack Hannah (1952)

Happy Halloween!

Hobo Moon Cartoons aims to preserve the beloved Halloween classics of yesteryear for future generations to enjoy!

Trick or Treat is a 1952 animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The cartoon, which takes place on Halloween night, follows a series of pranks between Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie along with Witch Hazel. The film was directed by Jack Hannah and features the voices of Clarence Nash as Donald and his nephews, and June Foray as Hazel. The film introduced the song Trick or Treat for Halloween, which was written by Mack David, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston and performed by The Mellomen.

Ub Iwerks (1929)

Happy Halloween!

Hobo Moon Cartoons aims to preserve the beloved Halloween classics of yesteryear for future generations to enjoy!

The Skeleton Dance is a 1929 Silly Symphony animated short subject produced and directed by Walt Disney and animated by Ub Iwerks. In the film, four human skeletons dance and make music around a spooky graveyard — a modern film example of medieval European “danse macabre” imagery.
It was the first entry in the Silly Symphony series.

The origins for The Skeleton Dance can be traced to mid-1928, when Walt Disney was on his way to New York to arrange a distribution deal for his new Mickey Mouse cartoons and to record the soundtrack for his first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie. During a stopover in Kansas City, Disney paid a visit to his old acquaintance Carl Stalling, then an organist at the Isis Theatre, to compose scores for his first two Mickey shorts, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho. While there, Stalling proposed to Disney a series of “musical novelty” cartoons combining music and animation, which would become the genesis for the Silly Symphony series, and pitched an idea about skeletons dancing in a graveyard. Stalling would eventually join Disney’s studio as staff composer. Animation on The Skeleton Dance began in January 1929, with Ub Iwerks animating the majority of the film in almost six weeks.

Ub Iwerks (1929)

Happy Halloween!

Outside on a cold windy night that’s fit for neither man nor beast, Mickey Mouse finds himself in need of shelter, and seeks it in a scary house looming nearby.  Upon entering the house, the front door locks itself, trapping Mickey inside. This house is haunted, and is full of spiders, bats, and the sounds of ghosts. Mickey runs into a hallway to escape the scary sounds, but the lights go out. When Mickey lights a match to illuminate his surroundings, he sees a dark figure in a hooded cloak.

Again, Mickey runs, but he is cornered by the figure and several skeleton ghosts. With a single word, the figure orders Mickey to “play” the piano in the room.

Mickey obliges, and he plays music for his skeletal patrons, who dance and celebrate amid the entertainment.

While they are blissfully distracted, Mickey makes a break for it and runs out of the room. Everywhere he turns he finds a dead end – usually with more skeletons. He eventually dives out a window, lands in a barrel of skeletons, escapes, and runs away to his freedom. Phew!

The Haunted House was released on December 2, 1929. It is full of goofy gags and hyjinx, though it is somewhat frightening at its core. It was released by Celebrity Productions, under Pat Powers, as part of the Mickey Mouse film series. The cartoon was produced by Walt Disney Productions, and directed by Walt Disney himself (Walt also provided the voice of Mickey). Disney Legend Ub Iwerks was the primary animator for the short, and Carl Stalling wrote the original music

The Haunted House was the first scary short starring Mickey, but it was not the first scary cartoon released by Disney. That honor belongs to The Skeleton Dance – a Silly Symphony cartoon released earlier in 1929.  In fact, The Haunted House borrowed a bit of animation from the Skeleton Dance.

Bob Clampett (1943)

A Corny Concerto is a 1943 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies directed by Bob Clampett. The short was released on September 25, 1943, and stars Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck. They perform a parody of Disney’s Silly Symphony cartoon series and specifically his 1940 feature Fantasia. The film uses two of Johann Strauss’ best known waltzes, “Tales from the Vienna Woods” and “The Blue Danube”.

Fantasia was marketed to highbrow music fans; the Looney Tunes staff responded by violating the ivory tower of classical music and concert hall culture. A Corny Concerto parodies Fantasia’s Silly Symphonies-derived balletic approach to storytelling. Elmer Fudd stands in for Deems Taylor, and in an anti-highbrow gag, his starched shirtfront keeps erupting from his shirt to hit him on the face.

Fleischer Studios (1930)

A Bimbo cartoon (though he is still unnamed).

Bimbo is the hot dog vendor at an opera led by a Leopold Stokowski-like lion, with plenty of operatic mice. Includes a repeating gag of a hippo coming and going through the seats, displacing patrons.

Animated by Seymour Kneitel & Al Eugster

For the Fleischer brothers, the transition to sound was relatively easy. With the new contract with Paramount Pictures, and without the burden of Red Seal Pictures and Alfred Weiss, Max Fleischer was free to experiment with new, bold ideas. First he changed the name of the Ko-Ko Song Cartunes series to Screen Songs. Although the Screen Songs were successful, Fleischer felt that it wasn’t enough. Walt Disney also seemed to gain a great amount of fame through his sound cartoons. Max decided to work with his brother Dave on a new series of cartoons where the characters did more than just simply dance to the music of the “bouncing ball”. The name for the new series was to be Talkartoons. When the idea was pitched to Paramount, they leaped at the opportunity.

The Talkartoons started out as one-shot cartoons. The first entry in the series was Noah’s Lark, released on October 26, 1929. Although a Fleischer cartoon, it appeared to be patterned after the Aesop’s Film Fables of Paul Terry. In it, a Farmer Al Falfa-esque Noah allows the animals of his ark to visit Luna Park. When he brings them back into the ship, the weight is so heavy that it sinks. In the end, Noah chases topless mermaids throughout the ocean waters. Lark has very few gray tones, very much like the Screen Songs produced during the same time and the earlier Fleischer silent works. It also included copyright-free songs, mostly utilized from old 78-rpm’s.

The series began to take a new direction, however, with the arrival of Max and Dave’s brother, Lou Fleischer, whose skills in music and mathematics made a great impact at the studio. A dog named Bimbo gradually became the featured character of the series. The first cartoon that featured Bimbo was Hot Dog (1930), the first Fleischer cartoon to use a full range of greys. New animators such as Grim Natwick, Shamus Culhane, and Rudy Zamora began entering the Fleischer Studio, with new ideas that pushed the Talkartoons into a league of their own. Natwick especially had an off-beat style of animating that helped give the shorts more of a surreal quality. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the Talkartoons series and the Fleischer Studio was the creation of Betty Boop with Dizzy Dishes in 1930.

By late 1931, Betty Boop dominated the series. Koko the Clown was brought out of retirement from the silent days as a third character to Betty and Bimbo. By 1932, the series was at an inevitable end and instead, Betty Boop would be given her own series, with Bimbo and Koko as secondary characters.

Les Clark (1958)

Paul Bunyan is a 1958 American animated musical short film produced by Walt Disney Productions. The short was based on the North American folk hero and lumberjack Paul Bunyan and was inspired after meeting with Les Kangas of Paul Bunyan Productions, who gave Disney the idea for the film.

Story by Lance Nolley & Ted Berman

Animation by John Sibley, George Nicholas, Bob Youngouist, George Goepper, Fred Kopietz, Ken Hultgren, Jerry Hathcock, Jack Parr, & Jack Boyd (effects animation)

Wilfred Jackson (1935)

Music Land is a Silly Symphony that debuted on October 5, 1935.

The lore of ancient fable has no equal to the jolly Land of Jazz,
Which lay within a wild, discordant sea, across the way from long-hair Land of Symphony.
Yet here you’ll find no mere Shakespearian sequel (though true folly still it has):
Our star-cross’d lovers bravely face adversity, and true love turns cacophony to harmony!

In an attempt to bridge the gap between classical music and jazz, the short features music from Beethoven’s Eroica and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, as well as various popular classical, jazz, and miscellaneous tunes. The film contains no actual speech, but has the characters instead communicate with musical tones, with each ‘speaking’ through use of the sound of the particular instrument upon which they are based.

Hugh Harman & Rudolf Ising (1930)

Congo Jazz is a Looney Tunes cartoon starring Warner Bros.’ first cartoon star, Bosko. The cartoon was released in September 1930. It was distributed by Warner Bros. and The Vitaphone Corporation. Congo Jazz was the first cartoon to feature Bosko’s falsetto voice that he would use for the bulk of the series’ run. It has the earliest instance of a “trombone gobble” in animation.

In 1927, Harman and Ising were still working for the Walt Disney Studios on a series of live-action/animated short subjects known as the Alice Comedies. The two animators created Bosko in 1927 to capitalize on the new “talkie” craze that was sweeping the motion picture industry. They began thinking about making a sound cartoon with Bosko in 1927, before even leaving Walt Disney. Hugh Harman made drawings of the new character and registered it with the copyright office on 3 January 1928.

After leaving Walt Disney in early 1928, Harman and Ising went to work for Charles Mintz on Universal’s second-season Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons. April 1929 found them moving on again, leaving Universal to market their new cartoon character. In May 1929, they produced a short pilot cartoon, similar to Max Fleischer’s Out of the Inkwell cartoons, Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid that showcased their ability to animate soundtrack-synchronized speech and dancing. The short, plotless cartoon opens with live action footage of Ising at a drafting table. After he draws Bosko on the page, the character springs to life, talks, sings, and dances. Ising returns Bosko to the inkwell, and the short ends. This short is a landmark in animation history as being the first cartoon to predominantly feature synchronized speech, though Fleischer Studios’ Song Car-Tune My Old Kentucky Home was the first cartoon to contain animated dialogue a few years earlier. This cartoon set Harman and Ising “apart from early Disney sound cartoons because it emphasized not music but dialogue.” The short was marketed to various people by Harman and Ising until Leon Schlesinger offered them a contract to produce a series of cartoons for the Warner Bros. It would not be seen by a wide audience until 71 years later, in 2000, as part of Cartoon Network’s special Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons, a compilation special of rare material from the WB/Turner archives.

In his book, Of Mice and Magic, Leonard Maltin states that this early version of Bosko:

“was in fact a cartoonized version of a young black boy… he spoke in a Southern Negro dialect… in subsequent films this characterization was eschewed, or perhaps forgotten. This could be called sloppiness on the part of Harman and Ising, but it also indicates the uncertain nature of the character itself.”

Ub Iwerks (1930)

Flip the Frog is the featured performer at an outdoor nightclub in the forest.
He entertains the woodland creatures with his dancing and piano-playing.

Animated by Ub Iwerks, Fred Kopietz, and Tony Pabian

Backgrounds by Fred Kopietz

Fiddlesticks is a 1930 Celebrity Producitons theatrical cartoon short directed and animated by Ub Iwerks, in his first cartoon since he departed from Walt Disney’s studio. The short features Iwerks’ character Flip the Frog. It is the first complete sound cartoon to be photographed in color.

Fiddlesticks was the first film in the Flip the Frog series. The sound system was Powers Cinephone, the same system used for Disney’s Steamboat Willie in 1928.

The unnamed mouse in the cartoon bears a striking resemblance to Mortimer Mouse, the original concept behind Mickey Mouse, both of whom were first animated by Ub Iwerks.

Jack Cutting & Clyde Geronimi (1939)

Originally by Hans Christian Andersen

The Ugly Duckling is the titular protagonist of Disney’s 1939 Silly Symphonies short film of the same name. Actually a cygnet (a baby swan), his egg somehow found its way into the nest of a duck family who mistook him for one of their own, and hatched him, only to immediately reject him for not looking the way a duckling should.

Ben Sharpsteen (1937)

Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto relax in sunny Hawaii in this classic 1937 Walt Disney cartoon!

Hawaiian Holiday is a 1937 American animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The cartoon stars an ensemble cast of Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, and Goofy while vacationing in Hawaii. The film was directed by Ben Sharpsteen, produced by John Sutherland and features the voices of Walt Disney as Mickey, Marcellite Garner as Minnie, Clarence Nash as Donald, and Pinto Colvig as Goofy and Pluto. It was Disney’s first film to be released by RKO, ending a five-year distributing partnership with United Artists.

Ub Iwerks (1931)

Flip the Frog is an animated cartoon character created by American animator Ub Iwerks. He starred in a series of cartoons produced by Celebrity Pictures and distributed through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1930 to 1933. The series had many recurring characters besides Flip; including Flip’s dog, the mule Orace, and a dizzy neighborhood spinster.

Flip was created by Ub Iwerks, animator for the Walt Disney Studios and a personal friend of Walt Disney in 1930, at the Iwerks Studios. After a series of disputes between the two, Iwerks left Disney and went on to accept an offer from Pat Powers to open a cartoon studio of his own and receive a salary of $300 a week, an offer that Disney was unable to match at the time. Iwerks was to produce new cartoons under Powers’ Celebrity Pictures auspices and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The first series he was to produce was to feature a character called Tony the Frog, but Iwerks disliked the name and it was subsequently changed to Flip.

Iwerks’ studio quickly began accumulating new talent, such as animators Fred Kopietz, Irv Spence, Grim Natwick, and Chuck Jones. After the first two cartoons, the appearance of Flip the Frog gradually became less froglike. This was done under the encouragement of MGM, who thought that the series would sell better if the character were more humanized. Flip’s major redesign is attributed to Grim Natwick, who made a name for himself at Fleischer Studios with the creation of Betty Boop. Natwick also had a hand in changing Flip’s girlfriend. In earlier films, she was consistently a cat, but Natwick made Flip’s new girlfriend, Fifi, a human who shared distinct similarities with Betty.

The frog’s personality also began to develop. As the series progressed, Flip became more of a down-and-out, Chaplin-esque character who always found himself in everyday conflicts surrounding the poverty-stricken atmosphere of the Great Depression. Owing to the influx of New York City animators to Iwerks’s studio, the shorts became increasingly risqué.

The character eventually wore out his welcome at MGM. His final short was Soda Squirt, released in 1933. Subsequently, Iwerks replaced the series with a new one starring an imaginative liar named Willie Whopper. Flip became largely forgotten by the public in the ensuing years. However, the character would make a small comeback when animation enthusiasts and historians began digging up the old Iwerks shorts.

Paul Terry (1928)

Dinner Time was one of the first publicly shown sound-on-film cartoons and premiered in New York City in August 1928, three months before Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie, which premiered on November 18th, 1928. However, Dinner Time was unsuccessful and Disney’s film would go on to be widely touted as the first synchronized sound cartoon.

Dinner Time is an American animated short cartoon produced by Van Beuren Studios. The musical score was composed by Josiah Zuro. The film is part of a series entitled Aesop’s Fables and features the Paul Terry creation Farmer Al Falfa who works as a butcher, fending off a group of pesky dogs.

Fleischer Studios (1934)

Ha! Ha! Ha! is a 1934 Fleischer Studio Betty Boop animated short film featuring Koko the Clown.

This is a partial remake of the 1924 Koko animated short, The Cure. It’s also Koko’s last theatrical appearance.

Max Fleischer deployed a number of techniques in the service of his anarchic cinematic vision, among them rotoscoping, which he patented in 1917; integrating live action shots; and using still photographs as animation backgrounds to create the illusion of cartoon characters inhabiting a real-world space, as in the opening scene of the astounding Betty Boop short Ha! Ha! Ha! (1934). The most technologically ornate item in Fleischer’s toolbox was the setback camera.

The setback camera is often confused with Disney’s multiplane camera. Both systems evolved somewhat contemporaneously, and both create the illusion of dimensional depth, but functionally they have little in common. The setback rig consists of a forced-perspective, miniature set mounted on a turntable, serving as background to the cel art held in a vertical glass platen, and a horizontal animation camera. The turntable is rotated incrementally behind the cels, creating the effect of a “tracking shot” — the 2D animated character, in a side-view walk cycle, traverses a realistically proportioned (but still recognizably Fleischeresque) 3D environment which moves perspectivally across the background.

The setback camera.
The Fleischer brothers working on the setback camera.

Burt Gillett (1934)

The unofficial sequel to Walt Disney’s 1933 The Three Little Pigs.

The Big Bad Wolf is an animated short released on April 13, 1934 by United Artists, produced by Walt Disney, and directed by Burt Gillett as part of the Silly Symphony series. Acting partly as a sequel to the wildly successful adaptation of The Three Little Pigs of the previous year (maintaining the title characters as well as the villain), this film also acts as an adaptation of the fairy-tale Little Red Riding Hood, with the Big Bad Wolf from 1933’s Three Little Pigs acting as the adversary to Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother.

Walt Disney (1928)

Hungry Hobos is a silent animated short released by Universal Studios in 1928. The short features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Peg Leg Pete as the title characters.

Having been lost since before World War II, the short was rediscovered in 2011 in the Huntley Film Archives, and was later purchased by the Walt Disney Company. It was then restored and re-debuted at the Telluride Film Festival on September 2, 2012 as part of a special animation shorts program presented by leading film historian and restoration expert Serge Bromberg. The restored version was officially released as a bonus feature in the release of the Walt Disney Signature Collection edition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Blu-ray.

The history of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is that he was created by Walt Disney but had the rights of the character swept out from under his feet by producer Charles Mintz. However, never being one to give up easily, Disney went back to the drawing board and with help from animator Ub Iwerks created the ever-beloved cartoon character Mickey Mouse, which later became Disney’s signature character and helped him finally gain the recognition he had been after all along.

Salvador Dalí & Walt Disney (1945/2003)

Destino is an animated short film released in 2003 by Walt Disney. Destino is unique in that its production originally began in 1945, 58 years before its eventual completion. The project was originally a collaboration between Walt Disney and Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, and features music written by Mexican songwriter Armando Domínguez and performed by Mexican singer Dora Luz. It was included in the Animation Show of Shows in 2003.

The short was intended to be one of the segments for the proposed but never completed third Fantasia film.

Destino was storyboarded by Disney studio artist John Hench and artist Salvador Dalí for eight months in late 1945 and 1946. However, production ceased not long after. Walt Disney Studios was plagued by many financial woes in the World War II era. Hench compiled a short animation test of about 17 seconds in the hopes of rekindling Disney’s interest in the project, but the production was no longer deemed financially viable and put on indefinite hiatus.

In 1999, Walt Disney’s nephew Roy E. Disney, while working on Fantasia 2000, unearthed the dormant project and decided to bring it back to life. Bette Midler’s host sequence for The Steadfast Tin Soldier also makes mention of Destino. Disney Studios France, the company’s small Parisian production department, was brought on board to complete the project. The short was produced by Baker Bloodworth and directed by French animator Dominique Monfréy in his first directorial role. A team of approximately 25 animators deciphered Dalí and Hench’s cryptic storyboards (with a little help from the journals of Dalí’s wife, Gala Dalí and guidance from Hench himself), and finished Destino‘s production. The end result is mostly traditional animation, including Hench’s original footage, but it also contains some computer animation.

Walt Disney (1946)

The Story of Menstruation is a 1946 10-minute American animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions. It was commissioned by the International Cello-Cotton Company (now Kotex) and was shown in a non-theatrical release to approximately 105 million American students in health education classes. In 2015, it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Wolfgang Reitherman (1967)

The Jungle Book is a 1967 American animated musical comedy film produced by Walt Disney Productions. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 book of the same name, it is the 19th Disney animated feature film. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it was the last film to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production. The plot follows Mowgli, a feral child raised in the Indian jungle by wolves, as his friends Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear try to convince him to leave the jungle before the evil tiger Shere Khan arrives.

The early versions of both the screenplay and the soundtrack followed Kipling’s work more closely, with a dramatic, dark, and sinister tone which Disney did not want in his family film, leading to writer Bill Peet and songwriter Terry Gilkyson being replaced. The casting employed famous actors and musicians Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders, and Louis Prima, as well as Disney regulars such as Sterling Holloway, J. Pat O’Malley, Verna Felton, and the director’s son Bruce Reitherman as Mowgli.

The Jungle Book was released on October 18, 1967, to positive reception, with acclaim for its soundtrack, featuring five songs by the Sherman Brothers and one by Gilkyson, The Bare Necessities. The film initially became Disney’s second-highest-grossing animated film in the United States and Canada, and was also successful during its re-releases.