Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Ocean Hop


The Ocean Hop is another Oswald that is a remake of one of the Alice Comedies, this time taking the premise of Alice’s Balloon Race and changing it up a bit, but essentially it’s the same story.

Where Great Guns was able to take Alice’s Little Parade and weave in a romantic plot that tied the story together, there is no such convenience in The Ocean Hop. The main changes made from Alice’s Balloon Race are the destination and the vehicle – Oswald and his compatriots are trying to make it from New York to Paris in “planes” vs. Alice and friends racing in balloons. Otherwise, it’s almost identical.

The short opens the same as Balloon Race, with a poster, this one advertising a reward for the person who makes the trip to Paris. We see all the contestants getting ready, including our buddy Pete, who here has a peg leg, like he would have frequently in the Mickey shorts. He’s cocky and confident as always, until he sees Oswald.


Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

Oswald’s arrival is a funny bit, as a slate announces him as “The Dark Horse,” and the next shot is of a blanket draped over something with a horse’s head sticking out – a literal dark horse. It turns out to be Oswald’s plane, which he unveils with vigor. Pete comes over to inspect, and chews some “elastic” gum that he sticks to the wheels of the plane, unbeknownst to Oswald.

Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

Upon takeoff, the other planes shoot into the air, but poor Oswald is stuck. Pete proceeds to pass everyone, while Oswald’s plane disassembles and takes off without him. In Balloon Race, Julius has a similar problem, but it’s Pete destroying his first balloon in the air. Oswald runs across a dachshund and decides to turn it into a balloon/plane, again the exact thing that happens in Balloon Race.

Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

Oswald gets some mice to help him, blowing up a balloon to tie to the dog while he attaches a fan to the dog’s tail and a board to its upper body to serve as wings. He manages to take off, but the balloon slips to the back end. Oswald’s though balloon provides the balloon for the front end, a gag that Julius used many times. Now in the air, night falls, visualized as dark rain drops after a slate that says “Night Falls.” Cute gag.

Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

The finale comes as Oswald catches up to Pete, who has misdirected the other racers. Pete shoots Oswald down, but using a parachute, Oswald lands in the middle of Paris, winning the contest.

Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

The Ocean Hop is a good short, no doubt, but as I said, it doesn’t have the extra story elements from Alice’s Balloon Race to make it a big upgrade. While it’s disappointing to see the story material recycled, there is improvement in the animation quality and the gags that make this a better short than its predecessor. I do think, though, that you continue to see the pressures of trying to turn out product continuously, as the Disney Studio had to do at this time. Eventually, you’ll have to reuse ideas or gags, because there’s no time to come up with new ones.

5 comments:

  1. Ever wonder what happened to Wienie the dachshund after they plunged from the sky?
    Originally, as Oswald is picked up and kissed by the diplomats, Wienie lands in the open hood of their limo while a guy is fixing it—and comes out the exhaust pipe as a string of sausages!
    The scene was edited from the sound reissue, unfortunately.

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  2. Great info. Sounds like the morbid streak from the Alice's Mysterious Mystery short continued.

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  3. One plus that this short has over Alice's Balloon Race is the more satisfying ending of seeing a character actually make it to the destination and win the race. Other than that it's pretty similar and even has a reused crowd shot from Alice the Firefighter. It's right at the beginning of 'Ocean Hop' and right at the end of 'Firefighter', they even left in a couple of Julius clones including the one that's still wearing his helmet!

    As we follow the progress of the shorts, it's nice to see Pete again. I haven't seen any of his appearances in the late Alice shorts, but I believe he always remained a bear (and he was a bear in the title card of Alice the Whaler). After some Pete look-a-likes in Mechanical Cow (Hairy Petes!) and Great Guns (a big bear/wolf/rat thing) we finally have the real deal. He's looking a bit snoutier now and is maybe supposed to be a wolf – he would later sometimes be dubbed 'Foxy Wolf' and check out those canine teeth when he bites the gum!

    A couple of things that are quite neat about this short is seeing Disney characters that still have five fingers and the cartoony part of Pete disappearing behind a skinny pole. I wonder when this gag was first used?

    Finally a question for Ramapith – Where did you learn that the sausage dog is called Wienie? If any one else had said it I'd think they just made it up, but knowing you, I bet that's an 'official' name from somewhere!

    -Mac

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  4. The name "Foxy Wolf" for Pete is a misnomer. It comes from the OZZIE OF THE MOUNTED copyright synopsis, which—like all such synopses—appears to have been written by someone at Universal who wasn't very good at recognizing consistent characters or animal species. The synopses refer to Oswald's girlfriend as a rabbit even in the cartoons where a cat girl is used; Pete is alternately called Pete, Foxy Wolf, Husky Wolf, and Big Bruin Baloney (!); and he's referred to inconsistently as either a bear or wolf from film to film.
    All this when the actual Disney production documents consistently call the villain Pete, "Bear," or both, and when he is also consistently called Pete onscreen (example: OZZIE OF THE MOUNTED, where we even see various aliases on a single wanted poster).

    I get the name "Wienie" for the dachshund from the Mickey Mouse daily strip, where he appeared later and where Walt was actually doing the writing at the time. Nice, isn't it? (-:

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  5. Thanks for all the info, Ramapith. So all evidence seems to point to Pete being thought of as a bear a within the studio. I can certainly see why people would mistake him a wolf in the Oswald shorts though – his face looks pretty wolfy to me too (although the ears and tail don't seem right for a wolf character).

    -Mac

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