Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All Wet


Before I get started today, I want to urge anyone reading this site to go check out David Gerstein’s Ramapith blog. David has commented on many of my stories here, and it’s an honor to have him reading the site here. Make sure you go check out what a real animation mind has to say about a variety of subjects at his blog.

Okay, so All Wet is a great short. No doubt about it, it reminds me of a Mickey short, although I can’t place which one, but since this preceded that, it feels like a great step for the Disney animators. At this point, you really get to see the Disney style of storytelling taking shape, and it makes my heart glad to be watching it blossom.

Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

The key areas that tend to build that reputation here are the personalities of the characters that come through and the way that the character of Oswald is built through the action. I know that you can say that about some of the Alice shorts, but in the first few Oswald shorts, you see a character developing that is hapless yet cocky, who tries to do the right thing for selfish reasons but tends to get things to work out in the end.

Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

This is the genius of the Disney animators – imbuing character into their drawings. For example, take the hot dogs that Oswald is selling at the beginning of the short. He has issues with the dogs sneaking off the table, and then his first customer can’t eat the hot dog because it screams for help and makes motions to discourage him.

Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

It’s touches like this that make the Oswalds different than the Alice shorts. While Julius was a somewhat developed character, he mainly was a gag factory. You didn’t feel for him like you do Oswald. In All Wet, Oswald again meets his girl, and tries to impress her, but she’s not falling for it. The look on his face and his dejected, slumping attitude make you feel sympathy for him.

He gets the idea to be a lifeguard, paying off the lifeguard to take his badge. He has to redirect a young boy who needs a bathroom, but other than that, has no real lifeguard duties. The girl is impressed and heads out to sea and fakes her own drowning to draw Oswald in.

Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

The plan backfires, though, as a fish grabs her and pulls her under. The panicked Oswald manages to reach her and fight to grab her as the waves pull them apart. The nice thing here is you can clearly see the fear and trepidation on Oswald’s face as he rows out to rescue his girl.

Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

The waves toss them back on the beach, and Oswald rolls the water out of her, earning him a farewell kiss as the short ends.

Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.


Now, this is not the most original or groundbreaking short, but the return to the quality of the first few shorts after the Xerox of Great Guns is a heartening development. If you are following along with me, the Oswalds are really the first time we have seen the style of animation that you would expect in the Mickey Mouse shorts. It’s amazing to watch it develop, and I hope you’ll keep reading and watching along with me.

7 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. [Reposted with a typo fixed.]

    Hey, how am I more of a "real animation mind" than you? (If you mean I've just spent more years knee-deep in it, that doesn't matter much... it's all about dedication, isn't it? And you surely seem to have as much as me.)

    Honestly, I envy you for being able to discover the early (and, IMHO, best) Disney shorts when they're mostly so easily available. When I first collected them as a teen, I had nothing to go by but cut-up Disney Channel copies and shady transfers from 16mm. Cartoons like THE BARN DANCE were almost myths, corny as that sounds today.

    I'm hoping to do a blog post on BRIGHT LIGHTS before you blog about it yourself; the version on DVD comes from a Spanish print that turns out to have had some scenes out of order, and I'd like to fake a kind of "director's cut" which might make more enjoyable viewing.

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  3. This Oswald short has similar elements to two Mickey cartoons, but I won't spoil the surprise and let you discover them for yourself!

    Again this is a reissue cartoon which means missing scenes! I have no idea what else might have been in this cartoon originally, but I would guess at an extended rescue sequence (maybe with more scenes of the fish). The flow of action from the shot of Oswald and Fanny going up on the wave to the shot of them flying through the air doesn't seem very smooth to me.

    I'm looking forward to Ramapith's post on 'Bright Lights". I think I've made it apparent I'm always keen to learn about original versions of cartoons!

    -Mac

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  4. Ramapith, you're a real animation mind because you're coming at this with a knowledge of what a lot of this stuff means (I just learned squash and stretch through osmosis). I mean, I have "Illusion of Life," but honestly, I can't read it. It's too dull to me. I base all my opinions on watching the shorts and reading about the people creating them, not a study of the form itself.

    I've read your blog, you're a thoughtful guy. I truly appreciate you taking the time to read and comment here.

    It's interesting to me that there are so many reissues of these shorts. Let's be honest, it's not like the public was clamoring for Oswald DVDs in large quantities. So why the changes? Was the original footage unavailable? Or were there things in the footage that Disney just removed?

    I agree, the sequence of the rescue is a bit jumpy, so I think that's where footage would have been removed.

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  6. It's interesting to me that there are so many reissues of these shorts. Let's be honest, it's not like the public was clamoring for Oswald DVDs in large quantities. So why the changes? Was the original footage unavailable? Or were there things in the footage that Disney just removed?The answer is in the commentaries on the CDs. Disney had no say-so. They were in Lantz' hands and, as mentioned by someone in an earlier post, he was reissuing them with soundtracks to get some material to market in the most economical way he could in tough times.

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  7. Thanks for the info, HB. I have to watch these cartoons in a short time frame, so unfortunately I don't have time to get to commentaries, although I'm trying to carve out some time later this week to listen to them.

    Ramapith, you best get to it for Bright Lights. I don't have any of the cartoons between The Ocean Hop and it, so that's my next post. I probably won't get to it today, but likely tomorrow. I'd love to try and figure out some of the removed scenes, though, so I'll be eagerly awaiting your post.

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