The big thing that stood out to me on Trolley Troubles was the different direction in the animation, adding more side to side movement, changing perspectives, etc. There is less of that in the second short, but there are more gags, like those you would see in the better Alice Comedies.
The story is somewhat straightforward, as Oswald is trying to woo a young girl, but has a rival in a cat character that’s kind of a cross between Julius and Pete. The gags begin early, as Oswald’s ears put him in flight, expressing his delight as he goes to pick up his sweetie. It’s a great gag, but it also shows some of his personality, which is a key thing.
After Oswald picks up his girl, we cut to a young pig who’s being picked up by the school bus. The school bus continues down the lane, followed by the much larger cat character, who tries to hitch a ride but gets knocked off. Undeterred, the cat knocks Oswald off his bike and steals a ride to school.Unfortunately, the cat is not a great driver, and he wrecks the bike, sending Oswald’s girl into a nearby pond. Her cries of help reach Oswald, quite literally, and he rides the word as a horse to save her. However, as he extends himself out over the water, the cat runs over top of him, fishes the girl out of the water and wins her temporary affection in the process.
Of course this does not sit well with our hero, who tries to confront him in a very funny sequence. Oswald draws a line in the sand, which the cat merely picks up and knocks away, then knocks Oswald’s head off his body. It’s a classic underdog matchup, and it really draws the viewer onto Oswald’s side.
As the school day begins, the cat drags Oswald’s girl into school, where they stay until recess. As recess begins, Oswald waits outside the school house with a brick, ready to clobber the cat when he emerges. Unfortunately, the cat goes out the back door.Being confronted by the cat, Oswald attempts to explain away the brick as an exercise machine, but the cat is not buying it. He steals the brick and throws it up in the air, but it lands in the storm drain, and flies down the drain and right into the cat’s head, knocking him out. Oswald is as shocked as anyone, but he takes advantage, pretending he knocked the cat out as his girl comes by, and they are reunited.
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Admittedly, the story is simple, but it is also charming. Moreso than I ever did with Julius, I felt for Oswald here. He’s undersized and overmatched, but he’s determined. It’s definitely a precursor to Mickey in his early days, in the interaction with the girl. You could easily replace Oswald and his girl with Mickey and Minnie and have one of the early Mickeys.
So far, I’m loving the Oswald shorts. If you are a Disney fan, and you think that the company started with Steamboat Willie, you owe it to yourself to get this DVD and check out the Oswald shorts.
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