Friday, April 3, 2009

Alice Rattled By Rats

If you scan through this article and are confused by the pictures, you can be forgiven, because the answer is yes, Alice Rattled By Rats is pretty much the same as Alice the Piper, which is sorely disappointing. Although this version of the story unfolds slightly differently, it features much of the same gags as the earlier short.

First, though, let me say that I have skipped the next short in chronological order, Alice Plays Cupid, because as far as I can tell, there is not a surviving print of that short. So, this is the next in line during the year 1925.

This short begins with Alice packing up her car and leaving Julius in charge of her house. Of course, this is a big mistake.

Julius patrols the outside of the house, but a rat pops up and starts tormenting him, with some cute gags. The rat perches on Julius’ gun (which he made out of his tail), and taps Julius on the back. Julius swings the gun around and can’t make it go any further until the rat jumps off, sending Julius into a spiral. They end up inside, where Julius shoots at the rat in a circle, causing a hole in the floor.

Julius falls in a vat of “home brew,” and inevitably becomes tipsy. Why Alice was brewing alcohol in her basement when she’s basically 8 or 9 years old is still an open question.

The next 3 ½ minutes of the short are devoted to the rats partying it up in Alice’s house, and this is where it becomes a copy of Alice the Piper. The same gags are used in the dancing, the sliding of the rats down a wavy line, and the rats using each other as instruments are all the same as the earlier short.

Finally, Julius wakes up, and manages to craft a bomb out of his idea balloon to lob into the house of rats. He begins running away as Alice pulls up, and the rats throw the bomb back at him, landing on his tail. Of course, the bomb goes off over he and Alice, as the short ends.

Sure, this is an entertaining short, but it’s really the same as Alice the Piper, without the contrived vacuum cleaner ending. It continues the pattern of inconsistency we have seen. As promised, I looked through my various books on Walt to see what could have caused this during the year of 1925.

What did I find? Well, in July of 1925, Walt married Lillian. Assuming that they went on their honeymoon (which I know they did, but couldn’t find the location and timing), that would put Walt out of the studio for around 2-3 weeks in mid-1925. The last three shorts (Alice’s Tin Pony, Alice Chops the Suey and Alice Rattled By Rats) went out to theaters in September-November 1925. That’s about a 2-3 month gap between the honeymoon period and the shorts. Is it possible that Walt didn’t focus as much on his business as he did his marriage? It’s certainly a question to ponder.

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