Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sagebrush Sadie (at least a little of it)

In between Rival Romeos and the next full short we’ll review, Ozzie of the Mounted, there were two more shorts that are not around. On the Walt Disney Treasures DVD, we get a glimpse at one of them – Sagebrush Sadie. Although the full short no longer survives, these pencil drawings from the Walt Disney Animation Library gives us a little peek at what it was like.

The main thing that strikes me from this short fragment (less than a minute) is the kinetic energy in the pure pencil animation. Once the black ink is applied to these tests, there is still an energy, but here, the drawings seem to leap off the page.

This was a common complaint in later years, as animators always said that the inkers distorted their lines and might dampen the motion that they had put into the original work. It was Ub Iwerks’ process of “Xeroxing” the original pencils that changed this, most notably on 101 Dalmatians. Looking at these pencils for Sagebrush Sadie, I can see the animators’ point.

The story of this short is that Oswald and his sweetheart are traveling the mountain road, and somehow, her horse cart gets away, and she is chased by Oswald and Pete, vying to rescue her. It seems very promising, and that makes me regret the fact that there are so many of the shorts that no longer survive.

It’s a different story all together, but it’s also a shame that Universal/Lantz chose to recut and reissue these shorts, meaning that even the surviving shorts are not in the same shape as their original release. Ozzie of the Mounted, for example has several cuts, as does Bright Lights. To get a glimpse of the original version of Bright Lights, go check out Ramapith’s blog, where he has an excellent version of what the original was like.
All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

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