December 26, 1941 – The Goofy Short Film The Art of Self Defense is Released to Theaters
“From the earliest dawn of humanity, the cold, unrelenting law of nature has been, and still is, the survival of the fittest.”
On December 26, 1941, the Goofy short film The Art of Self Defense was released to theaters. This was one of the first shorts to show more than one Goofy-designed character in the same scene. The short was directed by Jack Kinney, and stars John McLeish as the narrator.
The short takes us through the history of man defending himself, beginning with the cavemen. Two cavemen are seen beating each other over the head with a hammer and a club. The scene then travels to ancient Egypt, where moving wall paintings show that man has learned to use his hands for combat, particularly poking the other person in the eye. Reaching the middle ages, two knights are seen clad in armor, hitting each other with maces much as the cavemen did with their clubs. Time rushes forward to the Romantic Age, with two men slapping each other with gloves rather daintily. One of the men gets the idea to put his snuff box in his glove, giving his slap a little more “oomph.” The scene then changes to when boxing came into vogue, but these men, as the narrator puts it, “could fight for only seventy-five or eighty rounds.”
The audience is then brought to the modern era, with Goofy entering a boxing gym. He starts to punch enthusiastically, until the narrator stops him, informing him that they were learn to box properly, with scientific conditioning. They learn how to breathe properly, but as the narrator gets involved with his own commentary, Goofy breathes in (forgetting to breathe out) to the point of floating like a balloon. When he is finally told to exhale, Goofy sails around the gym as all the air is pushed out. Next, Goofy attempts to jump rope, but ends up tangled. He then tries to punch a double-ended bag, only to have the bag knock him out.
Goofy then shadow boxes – literally – ended up knocked out by his own shadow with every punch shown, from jabs, to crosses, to uppercuts. When the narrator points out there is a rule that no boxer shall ever be hit below the belt, Goofy manages to pull his pants and belt above his head, so there is nowhere for his shadow to strike, but the shadow, after kicking Goofy out of his clothes, manages to win just the same. After weeks of conditioning, the night of the fight arrives, and Goofy steps confidently into the ring. His opponent, however, knocks him out with one punch.