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October 3

October 3, 1941 – The Pluto Short Film Lend a Paw is Released to Theaters

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“Save him, Pluto! Save the poor little kitty!”

On October 3, 1941, the Pluto short film Lend a Paw was released to theaters, although under the Mickey Mouse banner. It is the remake of the 1933 Mickey Mouse short film, Mickey’s Pal Pluto, and was dedicated to the nonprofit Tailwagger Foundation “in recognition of its work in lending a paw to man’s animal friends.” The short was directed by Clyde Geronimi. It would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 14th Academy Awards.

On a snowy day, Pluto is sniffing around when he hears mewing from inside a bag floating on a patch of ice down the creek. He jumps in to rescue the kitten, and takes it to shore, although he isn’t too happy about the bag’s contents. The kitten follows him, wanting nothing more than to be his friend, and ends up in Pluto’s house. Pluto greets Mickey, and Mickey automatically greets the kitten, incurring Pluto’s jealousy. Mickey takes care of the kitten, and the little Devil inside jumps out of Pluto’s head and tells him that he needs to get rid of the kitten. Pluto’s Angel, however, steps in and tries to guide Pluto back to the proper path. The Devil gets rid of the Angel and convinces Pluto to get rid of the kitten by making it appear that he ate Mickey’s goldfish. Unfortunately, the plan goes wrong, and the bowl crashes onto the floor. Mickey, suspicious, asks the fish who did it, and she immediately points her fin at Pluto. Mickey kicks Pluto out of the house, leaving him in the show. Pluto sits in the snow, crying.

The kitten's ball bounces into the well bucket, leading the kitten to certain danger

The kitten’s ball bounces into the well bucket, leading the kitten to certain danger

A bit later, the kitten is chasing after a ball when it goes out the doggy door, and bounces into the bucket at the well. The kitten jumps into the bucket, and both he and the bucket land in the well. Pluto watches as the kitten struggles to stay above water, and Pluto’s Angel tells him to rescue the kitten. The Devil steps in again and tells Pluto to let the kitten drown. In the end, Pluto’s Angel beats up the Devil, and demands that Pluto save the kitten, which he does. Mickey is alerted to the danger by Pluto’s cry, and Mickey saves the kitten and Pluto. Mickey warms Pluto back up in the house, and the kitten gives him a grateful lick. Pluto’s Angel then reminds him that “kindness to animals…will be rewarded in the end.”

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August 12

August 12, 1941 – The Remade Short Film Orphan’s Benefit is Released to Theaters

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“Who did that? What’s the big idea? Am I mortified! Am I mortified!”

On August 12, 1941, the short film Orphan’s Benefit was released to theaters. It was a remake of the 1934 short film, with updated animation and the added effect of color. The updated short was directed by Riley Thomson.

It’s the night of the orphan’s benefit at Mickey’s Big Show, and all the orphans are brought inside in single file line, presumably well-behaved. Inside, however, they’re causing all sorts of chaos, which stops when Mickey and Donald enter the stage. Mickey introduces Donald, who will recite (an unintelligible version of) “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” His performance is met with much applause, and it gives him enough confidence to move onto his next poem, “Little Boy Blue.” However, he is mocked by one of the orphans, which almost incites a tantrum; Donald starts his poem again, only to be mocked by all the orphans, and has a tantrum. He is then hooked off-stage, much to the amusement of the orphans.

Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, and Goofy begin their interesting ballet

Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, and Goofy begin their interesting ballet

Next is the dance number, featuring Clarabelle Cow, Goofy, and Horace Horsecollar. At one point, Horace grabs Clarabelle and spins her about wildly, before throwing her over to Goofy. Her spinning spins him out of control after he grabs her, and he ends up falling on the floor. Goofy attempts to redeem himself after this by doing some acrobatics with Clarabelle, only to have her fall on his head. Momentarily blinded, Goofy grabs her tail and throws her across the room to Horace, who catches her with one finger. When Horace throws Clarabelle back, Goofy is only able to grab her leotard, which she snatches back angrily before hitting Goofy on the head with a hammer. After the act, Donald comes back on stage to mock the orphans, and ends up with a face full of ice cream, before becoming the orphans’ personal punching bag. After this, Mickey and Clara perform a number, with Mickey playing the piano to Clara’s singing. Clara is able to hit the high note in her song after being hit by one of the boys’ slingshots, but she and Mickey take this in stride and take several bows.

Donald returns to the stage once more, starting his poem and waiting for retaliation; seeing none, he discards his brick and recites “Little Boy Blue,” although he has another tantrum when they mock him once more. While throwing his tantrum, the orphans tie random objects to balloons and send them across the stage, with two other orphans hitting the balloons with their slingshots the moment the objects are over Donald’s head.

February 7

February 7, 1942 – The Mickey Mouse Short Film Mickey’s Birthday Party Premieres in Theaters

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“He’s coming! Shhh! Hide!”

On February 7, 1942, the Mickey Mouse short film Mickey’s Birthday Party premiered in theaters. The short is considered a remake of the 1931 black and white short film The Birthday Party, although the earlier version did not include Donald Duck and Goofy. The 1942 short was directed by Riley Thompson.

Minnie is peering out her door’s peephole, then turns back to everyone inside and tells them to hide, as Mickey is approaching. Everyone scrambles around to find a place to hide while she reapplies her makeup. When she opens the door, Mickey steps in, asking for a little kiss. Minnie flirtatiously fends him off, and when Mickey tries to kiss her, everyone jumps out yelling “Surprise!” startling him. They wish him happy birthday, and Minnie then whispers to Goofy to go bake the cake.

Mickey dances with his cane while Minnie plays the new electric organ

Mickey dances with his cane while Minnie plays the new electric organ

Mickey is asked to open his present, and inside is a brand new electric organ. Mickey sheepishly says that he doesn’t deserve it, and Donald says that they know that. Mickey sits down to play the organ, although he’s not sure how to play the newfangled instrument. Minnie decides to play the organ while Mickey entertains their friends with his dancing. In the kitchen, Goofy has been distracted by the music and dances with the mop before checking on the cake. Unfortunately, when he uses a straw to test if it’s fully baked, the cake deflates like a balloon. Minnie checks in on him, and Goofy pretends that everything is just fine.

The party continues, with Donald dressed in a sombrero and leading a conga line. Goofy tries to bake a new cake, but has another failure. Minnie checks in again, and tells Goofy to hurry up. Donald dances with Clara Cluck, while Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow partner up. Goofy quickly tries to create yet another cake, cooking it at a setting called “volcano heat,” and the cake erupts all over the kitchen. Goofy becomes distraught, until he comes up with an idea and speeds out of the house, returning with a store-bought cake. Everyone begins to sing to Mickey, when Goofy trips and spills the cake all over the birthday mouse.

November 26

November 26, 1997 – The Walt Disney Pictures Feature Film Flubber is Released to Theaters

“The truth is Weebo, I’m not absent-minded because I’m selfish, crazy, or inconsiderate. I’m absent-minded because I’m in love with Sara.”

On November 26, 1997, the Walt Disney Pictures film Flubber was released to theaters. The film is a remake of the 1961 Disney film, The Absent-Minded Professor, starring Fred MacMurray; the 1961 film was based on the short story “A Situation of Gravity” by Samuel W. Taylor. Flubber was directed by Les Mayfield, with screenplay by Bill Walsh (the 1961 film) and John Hughes. It stars Robin Williams and Professor Phillip Brainard, Marcia Gay Harden as Sara Reynolds, Jodi Benson as the voice of Weebo, Christopher McDonald as Wilson Croft, Raymond Barry as Chester Hoenicker, and Wil Wheaton as Bennett Hoenicker.

Filming and special effects for Flubber took place at the Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco, California. Filmmakers had 90,000 square feet of space to create Professor Brainard’s laboratory, the locker room, and the basketball arena, all in one place. A major difference between Flubber and Professor is the substance Flubber itself: in the 1997 film, Flubber has a mischievous personality of its own.

Professor Phillip Brainard sits for breakfast, explaining his hope to save the college after his robot assistant Weebo shows him the news article about the shutdown threat

As the film opens, Professor Phillip Brainard is getting ready for his day, when his robot assistant, Weebo, tells him that Medfield College is facing a shutdown. Distracted by the news, Brainard feels that he’s forgetting something scheduled for that afternoon. What he’s forgetting is his marriage to the Medfield College president, Sara Reynolds, which he has already forgotten twice. He meets Sara for lunch, and she reminds him about the wedding and makes him promise he’ll be there; if he doesn’t show, she tells him that they’ll call it quits – permanently.

Later, while Brainard is working in his lab, his rival, Wilson Croft, stops by. Croft had been Brainard’s partner until he stole and profited from Brainard’s ideas. He announces his plans to steal Sara away from Brainard. As Brainard prepares for the wedding, he asks Weebo why the wedding wasn’t on his schedule. Weebo is secretly in love with Brainard, and pretends that she may have a virus. While he is looking at Weebo, he sees that one of his projects may have had a breakthrough, and sets to work on it, the wedding pushed out of his mind, especially as he sets off an explosion in his lab.

Brainard is so excited about his new discovery, “Flubber,” that he hasn’t realized that his missed his own wedding for a third time

Everyone waits at the church, and Sara finally realizes that he isn’t coming. Later that night, as Brainard cleans up the mess, he comes across the new substance he created: a green goo with a mind of its own. It begins to wreak havoc in the lab and the neighborhood after being startled by a camera flash. Weebo dubs it “flying rubber,” and Brainard names it “Flubber.” As he continues to experiment with Flubber, thinking that this is the breakthrough that will save the college, he finally realizes that he’s missed his wedding. Again.

The next day, Brainard arrives at Sara’s office to explain, but she is too heartbroken to hear it. She cares nothing for his Flubber invention, and declares that they are finished. Meanwhile, Bennett Hoenicker, star of the Medfield basketball team, goes to his father, furious that he’s been placed on academic probation after flunking chemistry. His father, Chester Hoenicker, one of the biggest lenders to the school, asks his flunkies to “persuade” Brainard to change his son’s grade to an A. The henchmen go to Brainard’s lab late at night and accidentally become a part of Brainard’s Flubber experiments (getting knocked out by a Flubber-coated golf ball and bowling ball). Brainard then applies Flubber to his car, which enables it to fly. He flies to Sara’s to show off the car, only to find her on a date with Croft. Although he is upset about this, he resolves not to give up, and to find a way to use Flubber to help the Medfield team win the basketball game and hold off the shutdown.

Brainard applies liquid Flubber to the basketball and his shoes, testing how it could be used to help Medfield win the basketball game

Brainard explains to Weebo that using Flubber to help them the rather inept Medfield team win is the only way to prove to Sara that Flubber will be a success. Brainard intends to sneak into the rival school’s basketball arena, and apply Flubber to the basketball and his own sneakers, testing how well it will work. As he leaves, he warns Weebo not to let Flubber out from its container. She promises, but the moment he’s gone, she decides to have fun with the creation, and the released Flubber begins to have a dance party around the house.

After a disastrous first quarter at the basketball game, the Flubber begins to take effect, and the Medfield team wins the game, 69 to 68. Brainard tries to convince Sara that Flubber helped Medfield win the game, but she doesn’t believe him, and continues her date with Croft. A dejected Brainard flies home in his car, but Hoenicker sees him in the aerial auto. As Brainard sadly explains his love for Sara to Weebo, he is unaware that Weebo records him. Later that night, Weebo goes to Sara’s house and shows her the recording, effectively winning Sara back for Brainard. Sara arrives at Brainard’s and the two make up, with Brainard taking Sara for a ride in the flying car; the two decide to sell the car to a car company to save the school.

Hoenicker waits for Brainard and Sara to return, offering them a chance to sell him the Flubber, in exchange for him forgetting the debt owed him by the school

When Brainard and Sara arrive back at Brainard’s, they are greeted by Hoenicker, his son, and his flunkies. Hoenicker offers to buy Brainard’s invention, but Brainard and Sara refuse his offer. The next morning, when Brainard and Sara take the car to Ford to sell, Hoenicker’s henchmen break in to steal Flubber, and destroy Weebo as she tries to stop them. Brainard and Sara return to see the damage and find the Flubber stolen, and Brainard holds Weebo as she dies in his arms. He believes that he could never recreate her, but finds that she secretly placed her plans on his computer so he could create another copy, with a final message from her hologram.

With a new resolve, Brainard and Sara head over to Hoenicker’s to retrieve the Flubber and avenge Weebo. They find Croft working for Hoenicker to interpret the Flubber, once again trying to steal Brainard’s creation. Brainard and Sara quickly put their plan in motion, using the Flubber in the hand cream, a water gun, and the car to recapture the Flubber. Brainard and Sara save the college, and finally have their wedding, although through a video link, with Brainard working in his lab while Sara is at the church. The two then fly off to their honeymoon in their Flubber-powered car, accompanied by Flubber and the newly constructed Weebette.