May 22, 1942 – The Pluto Short Film The Army Mascot Premieres in Theaters
“He’s better than Gunther!”
On May 22, 1942, the Pluto short The Army Mascot was released to theaters. This was released as one of the wartime shorts meant to boost morale and make audiences laugh. The short was directed by Clyde Geronimi, and written by Carl Barks and Jack Hannah.
The short opens at the U.S. Army base Camp Drafty, where Pluto is seen sniffing around the gate. He looks up when he hears trumpets sound, and sees the mascots of all the divisions stepping out of their doghouses. A truck from the Army field kitchen stops by, dropping off plates of roast beef and steak. A very hungry Pluto’s mouth waters; he then spies another mascot – a goat named Gunther – sound asleep in his pen.
Thinking this is his chance to grab a juicy steak, Pluto sneaks into the base and peers around Gunther’s pen. Ever so quietly, Pluto closes Gunther’s door, and disguises himself as the mascot right before the truck stops by. Pluto opens his mouth in anticipation of a morsel of meat, only to be thrown an avalanche of tin cans.
Hearing the noise, Gunther pokes two holes in his door with his horns and peeks out at his surroundings. He sees Pluto angrily kicking the cans, and steps out to confront the dog. As he bears down on Pluto, the dog flees, trying desperately to keep away from the goat’s horns. The goat marks his target and gives Pluto a mighty headbutt into the fence; after knocking him there like a paddleball, he then sends Pluto flying out of the camp.
Pluto is then seen limping around the camp, when a soldier calls out for Gunther to have some chewing tobacco. Pluto’s eyes literally turn green from jealousy, but he’s soon excited when he sees the leftover tobacco sitting on a bench after Gunther has walked away. He prances out in front of the soldiers, grabs the entire plug of tobacco, and chews, much to the amazement of the troops. When one cries out that Pluto is better than Gunther, the goat is startled awake and looks out angrily to see Pluto chewing calmly. Furious, the goat headbutts Pluto, who swallows the plug.
Poor Pluto begins to feel ill and stumbles around the camp, turning colors and patterns as he hiccups. The goat, not satisfied yet, props up Pluto, and gets ready to propel the pup into a tent full of explosives. Pluto drops at the last possible second with Gunther flying full speed ahead into the explosives tent. The blast sends Gunther sky high, where he holds tight to the front of a plane as it flies off into the distance. With Gunther heading overseas, this leaves an opening for a mascot, one that Pluto is happy to fill. Pluto steps out of his doghouse, saluting the officers, before receiving what he’d been craving: a nice, juicy ham. He tears into it eagerly, giving the audience a smile.