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Monthly Archives: April 2012

April 30

April 30, 1928 – The Oswald Short Film, Ozzie of the Mounted, is Released to Theaters

“This cartoon, as usual, is loaded with a lot of great gags. I love Oswald during this period – he looks great. He’s got lots of personality, and he was a very appealing character.” – Animation Expert Jerry Beck

On April 30, 1928, the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short, Ozzie of the Mounted, was released to theaters. This short would actually be remade later by Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising over at Warner Brothers, which was then titled Big Man from the North. Most scenes were redone shot by shot. This short also contains the element of a mechanical animal, which Iwerks and Disney used fairly often in the Oswald cartoons.

The wanted poster of Peg Leg Pete

The short opens on a blustery winter day in front of the headquarters of the Mounted Police. Inside, the police chief is pacing the floor, puffing on his corncob pipe. The door opens, and in slides Oswald, giving the chief a salute. The chief points out a wanted poster for Peg Leg Pete, which causes Oswald to shake from fear. The chief demands that Oswald go capture Pete, so Oswald screws up his courage and sets out into the blizzard.

Outside, Oswald winds up his mechanical horse and sets out to find Pete, who is then seen out in the snow with snowshoes, skulking around. Oswald, traveling the other direction, crashes into Pete around the corner of a bar, and is flung from his horse. He looks to see who he crashed into, and is surprised to see that it’s the villain he’s been looking for. He pulls out a gun and points it at Pete, who, by standing alone, is able to intimidate the rabbit. Oswald shoots the gun, only to have the bullet bounce off Pete’s stomach and knock Oswald over.

Peg Leg Pete strangling Oswald

Pete, seeing an opportunity, begins to strangle Oswald, squeezing the rabbit’s tongue out of his mouth. As Oswald appears to be dead, Pete looks up at the audience in horror and quickly slips away, hitching a ride on a nearby dogsled. Oswald finally gets up, pulls his tongue back in, and begins to fix his mechanical horse so he can give chase. After some disastrous results, Oswald finally fixes the horse, and begins to follow Pete.

Many gags ensue on this chase, including Oswald getting stuck in a loose spring from the body of his horse, and ending up flattened when the horse pulls him into a branch. Pete ends up losing his sled team and begins to slide down a hill, out of control, until he hits a rock. Unfortunately for Pete, the rock is actually a bear, who growls and runs after Pete. Oswald, seeing the bear, also tries to flee, but is caught by the pants by the bear, who sends Oswald flying to the nearby jail. Seeing his chance, Oswald flings open the door to the jail, telling Pete to run in for safety. Oswald traps Pete and the bear in the jail, and the short ends with Oswald laughing at his villain’s misfortune.

April 29

April 29, 1957 – The Sleeping Beauty Walk-Through Attraction Opens

Image credit: Official Disneyland Site

 “Relive one of the most beloved Disney legends as you stroll through the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle.”

 On April 29, 1957, the Sleeping Beauty Walk-Through opened in Disneyland, with Shirley Temple on hand to make the dedication. The attraction was created to use the empty space in the castle, and featured dioramas to tell the story of Sleeping Beauty in the style of Eyvind Earle, the production designer for the 1959 film. The dioramas were redesigned in 1977. The attraction was closed in 2001, but on November 27, 2008, the attraction opened again, reverting back to the original Eyvind Earle-inspired artwork, but with new technology that wasn’t available in 1957.

April 28

April 28, 1930 – The Silly Symphony Night is Released to Theaters.

On April 28, 1930, the Silly Symphony Night was released to theaters. Known as the early version of the award-winning short The Old Mill, the story set to music is of assorted animals in the evening near a river. It was directed by Walt Disney, and includes “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven among its collection of classical music used throughout the short.

The short opens on a moonlit night at a mill near a river, with the grass swaying in time to the background music. The moon gives the world a big smile, and begins singing along with the music playing. An owl flies past, flapping its wings in time with the tune, and calls out to his mate, who flies down to meet him on a branch. The two begin to dance; unfortunately, the male begins to kiss the female, who does not respond positively to his advances.

The fireflies lighting up the night in time with the music

The “bug ballet” begins with some bugs are flying around a lamp, with one teasing the candle’s flame, only to find itself burned. Fireflies begin to light up in rhythm to the new song playing, with two silly fireflies performing for the audience. Afterward, three mosquitoes begin some sort of skulking dance, which ends with them crossing over a stream and landing on a frog’s head, biting the poor frog before they fly away. The frog gets his revenge, however, by eating all mosquitoes in rhythm before dancing across the pond himself to meet his lady friend.

Around the mill’s wheel, the frog romantically rocks his lady frog while a group of other frogs croak a lullaby for the couple. The main male frog professes his love in song, while the female frog smiles and hides her face in cute embarrassment. The two begin to dance across the lily pads together, only to fall over the edge of a waterfall, ending the short with a loud, dramatic splash.

April 27

April 27, 1951 – The Goofy Short Film, Cold War, is Released to Theaters

“Now, look, Geef, a cold is nothing to be sneezed at. Beat it!”

On April 27, 1951, the Goofy short film, Cold War, was released to theaters. As Goofy is seen as an “everyman” sort in many of these shorts, he was given an “everyman” name: George Geef, which is used throughout by the other characters. The short was directed by Jack Kinney, with the story by Dick Kinney and Milt Schaffer, and Goofy being voiced by Pinto Colvig.

Dejected, Goofy is sent home from the office, thanks to his cold

The short opens with a narration on how to spot the carrier of the common cold: a virus easily identified by his red nose. We then see Goofy at his desk on a cold winter’s day, and he opens the window to get some air, inadvertently inviting in the cold carrier. Goofy then lets out a loud sneeze, which is heard by his boss. His boss demands that he take his cold out of there Goofy protests that he doesn’t have a cold, but he loses the argument by letting out another powerful sneeze. Defeated, Goofy leaves the office, while the boss sprays the room with sanitizer to kill the germs.

Goofy comes home, looking for a little sympathy, when he spies on a nearby table a note from his wife, informing him that she’s playing bridge at her friend Mabel’s, and dinner is in the ice box. He cries out, to no one in particular, that he has been deserted, and makes his way to the bed to lie down. The cold carrier is seen tormenting poor sick Goofy, using his nose for a punching bag, among other indignities. Goofy resolves to stay strong, but is reluctant when he has to take cold pills, and finds he is unable to swallow the pill. After fighting with it, it falls down the drain, and poor Goofy is without relief.

Goofy relaxing in bed as his wife continues her care of him

Goofy is in the kitchen, soaking his feet in a hot tub, when his wife returns, asking what he’s doing home. He tries to explain that he has a cold, but she isn’t listening, and continues to tell him about her day. She then accuses him of not listening – he’s tried, and his ears have gotten clogged from the cold – and realizes that he’s come down with a cold. She pushes him into bed and begins to take care of him with every remedy known to man, with comedic results. The cold is sent packing as Goofy sleeps peacefully, and the announcer lets us know that two weeks later, Goofy is well once more. Unfortunately, when he opens the window at work again to let in some cold air, the cold carrier comes racing back, causing him to sneeze loudly once again.

April 26

April 26, 1991 – Dinosaurs Premieres on ABC

Image credit: wikipedia

“We’d be on a plane, and [Jim Henson] would start to talk about this family of dinosaurs, with a father who wore plaid shirts and had a Brooklyn accent. It always made him laugh.” – Alex Rockwell

On April 26, 1991, the show Dinosaurs premiered on ABC. Created by Jim Henson Associates, Dinosaurs was the idea of Jim Henson and Alex Rockwell, who pitched it to Disney’s television division. The show follows the Sinclairs, a prehistoric blue-collar family. It starred Stuart Panking as the voice of Earl Sinclair, Jessica Walter as the voice of Fran Sinclair, and John Kennedy as the voice of Baby. The show won an Emmy in 1991 for Art Direction, and lasted for four seasons

Although the show was Henson’s idea, he passed away before it could come to fruition. His son Brian then worked with producer Michael Jacobs to bring it to the small screen. Production began in 1991, with filming on the same lot that The Muppet Movie had been filmed thirteen years prior. The dinosaurs were costumed actors with animatronic heads; the performers controlled the faces by remote control rigs from a distance. The show received good reviews and high ratings, proving that Jim Henson Productions could continue after Jim Henson’s death.

April 25

April 25, 1952 – The Donald Duck Short, Let’s Stick Together, is Released to Theaters

“You know, strange as it may seem, I used to be in business with that old duffer.”

On April 25, 1952, the Donald Duck short, Let’s Stick Together, was released to theaters. It features one of Donald’s many adversaries, Spike the Bee, who made his premiere in the 1948 Donald Duck short, Inferior Decorator. The short was directed by Jack Hannah, with the story by Nick George and Al Bertino. It also stars Clarence Nash as Donald, Bill Thompson as Spike, and voice actress legend June Foray in a cameo as Spike’s wife.

The short opens on a crisp fall day in the park, where an old bee is seen sitting on a ledge of a tree in his rocking chair, smoking a corncob pipe. He is suddenly startled as something lands into the ground in front of him. As the camera pans out, we see that the item belongs to an elderly Donald Duck, who is picking up trash in the park. He sits down on a bench to rest, and the bee laughs, narrating to the audience how he knows Donald, and taking the audience with him as he reminisces.

Spike discovers that his stinger is part of his secret talent

The flashback begins with Spike looking at the want ads in an abandoned newspaper. Just as he picks out what he thinks is the perfect job, the paper is snatched out from under him, flipping him into the air and dropping him harshly on the ground. Annoyed, Spike flies up to perch on a flower to look at his “attacker.” He then spies Donald, who is picking up the trash in the park, and gets an idea: he can use his stinger to pick up trash, and calls it his “hidden talent.” Excited by this discovery, he flies around Donald and shows the duck that he can help pick up trash. Donald is impressed, but is confused when Spike pushes Donald to the bench, letting him know he won’t be needed.

Spike makes quick work of the trash, and brings Donald part of a cigar he’s found. Donald pats Spike on the head and begins to relax while Elderly Spike relays to the audience that this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The next day, the two went into business together, beginning at a local carnival. Donald is seen selling balloons for 10 cents a balloon, and after he sells them, he sends Spike out to pop them, forcing the children to buy from Donald again. Spike is distracted, however, by an ad for a balloon dancer, and slips inside, popping the balloons that cover the girl. She lets out a shriek, and Spike flies out again, shrugging.

Spike working on creating a lace pattern

The next job the two held was a tattoo parlor, with Donald using Spike’s stinger for a needle. Donald is impressed with Spike’s work, and they move on to other projects, including making socks, lace, monogrammed handkerchiefs, and even fancy curtains. Soon, as Spike tells us, they were in full production mode. As the orders kept coming in, Spike became more and more fatigued. He pleads with Donald to let him have a vacation, and Donald surprises him with a greenhouse full of flowers, complete with a lady bee as well. Falling in love makes Spike work harder than ever, only he destroys everything by stitching hearts everywhere.

Donald, seeing as how everything has been vandalized, cries out that he’s ruined, and glares at the lovesick bee before trying to swat the lady bee. Spike runs to protect his lady, and decides to sting the duck in the tail. It was the end of their partnership, and Spike and his lady “have been happy all these years,” Spike tells the audience. The audience hears the truth, however, as Spike’s lady begins to scream at him for lounging around. Spike decides to join Donald once again in their partnership, and the two hobble down the road together.

April 24

April 24, 1989 – The New Mickey Mouse Club Premieres on the Disney Channel

Image Credit: UltimateDisney.com

On April 24, 1989, the third incarnation of the Mickey Mouse Club, later known as MMC, aired on the Disney Channel. The main difference between the original show and this updated reincarnation was that the Mickey Mouse element was highly de-emphasized in favor of the popular show trends of the day, which made the show lean more toward a Saturday Night Live format. The show premiered with twelve teenagers and two adults in the cast. Three members stayed with the show through its run: Josh Ackerman, Lindsey Alley, and Jennifer McGill; Tiffini Hale from the first season would return for the final season in 1995.

The show ended up as a launching point for many of today’s stars, including Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Ryan Gosling. The Mouseketeers would still continue to have theme days, including Music Day (Monday), Guest Day (Tuesday), Anything Can Happen Day (Wednesday), Party Day (Thursday), and Hall of Fame Day (Friday). Many new serials were released through the show, including Teen Angel, Teen Angel Returns, Just Perfect, Match Point, My Life as a Babysitter, Emerald Cove, and Treasure of Lost Creek.