Archive for Mickey Mouse

Hitler Saved from Drowning

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , on August 2, 2014 by dcairns

mickey&adolf0022

From Richard Schickel’s The Disney Version, which offers up a fairly pungent critique of Uncle Walt’s sensibility. He’s Disney on Hitler ~

“Mr. A. Hitler, the Nazi old thing, says Mickey’s silly. Imagine that! Well, Mickey is going to save Mr. A. Hitler from drowning or something some day. Just wait and see if he doesn’t. Then won’t Mr. A. Hitler be ashamed!”

As Schickel points out, what Hitler had actually said was, Mickey was “the most miserable ideal ever revealed … mice are dirty.”

I find the statement by Disney funny and surreal, though not in an intentional way. It’s clueless. Disney was certainly a wee bit antisemitic himself, and also like most of the studio bosses he wanted to keep making money out of Germany. Warners, the most courageously anti-Nazi studio, only shut down operations in Germany when their Berlin man was viciously beaten up for being Jewish. Disney, who was one of the only producers to welcome Leni Riefenstahl when she visited Hollywood, was obviously worried that the Führer was not a Mickey fan, as this had potential commercial consequences. He felt the need to respond, but couldn’t be inflammatory about it. “The old Nazi thing” is as insulting as he can bring himself to get, and his idea of a comeuppance for Hitler is that Mickey will do him a good turn.

I’m not saying Disney was a Nazi! It’s just unfortunate, is all. The cartoon is my way of showing I have something in common with Uncle Walt: neither of us can draw Mickey Mouse.

 

Bosko Does Not Believe in Tears

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2012 by dcairns

Bosko, star of early Looney Tunes, underwent a mysterious transformation. Here’s Bosko in his best-known form –

I take him to be a little monkey, don’t you? Everybody else is an animal, and he has those cute ears. Surely he’s a chimp or monkey. Of course, there’s also the obvious fact that he’s a thinly disguised rip-off of Mickey Mouse, shorn of the nose-dot and vast, black spherical ears (people assume they’re discs, but they never vary their appearance whatever way MM faces). He even has a Pluto-like dog, Bruno, and a girlfriend who looks just like Bosko in drag, called Honey.

And there’s also the suspicion that he’s a minstrel-like caricature of an African-American. In fact, from 1929, here’s Bosko’s first talkie –

Different voice, and very obviously an Amos ‘n’ Andy style ethnic caricature. But that side of the character recedes as he adopts the eunuchoid falsetto of Disney’s famous mouse. Cartoonist Rudolf Ising denied that Bosko was of any ethnic type, characterizing him as “an inkspot type thing,” but the view of Hugh Harman, who actually dreamed Bosko up, is apparently not recorded.

Then Bosko is acquired by MGM, when Harman & Ising (Harman-Ising well together!) switched studios, and he goes into Technicolor, becoming a little more sugary in the process.

The bratty kid dresses in Mickey Mouse’s red shorts, and the animation is a bit more three-dimensional, the comedy more domestic and less surreal/grotesque. The MGM effect creeping in.

Then this happens –

Bosko has become fully human, or almost, and he’s certainly African-American now. Curiously, the caricature isn’t particularly offensive (to me, anyway, but I wouldn’t presume to speak for everybody). I wonder how audiences reacted to his transformation? At any rate, the character was quickly retired. The more realistic Bosko became, the less fun his adventures seemed. The final phase, though technically the most elegant, is the least pleasurable to watch.

Bosko’s strange evolutionary leap from inkspot/minstrel/monkey to “real boy” is paralleled over at the Fleischer studio by Betty Boop’s transition from poodle to flapper, which is arguably as insulting in its implications. Very oddly, even after her floppy ears had turned into earrings, and her muzzle modified into the low, chinless mouth we know and lust for, Betty continued to go out with Bimbo, a dog. The implications of which are best left unexplored.

Ub!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on May 26, 2012 by dcairns

Weird, icky Ub Iwerks cartoon!

I love Ub Iwerks, mainly because his name is Ub Iwerks. When is Microsoft going to release an IWerks device? Like an IPad, only limp and rubbery?

Ub is a seminal figure in the history of animation, chief creator of Mickey Mouse. Breaking with Disney in 1930, Iwerks was set up in his own studio, where he attempted to rival his former boss’s success — but Ub’s sense of humour was, shall we say, a bit non-commercial.

Flip the Frog is a kind of amphbious Mickey Mouse manqué, I guess. Disturbingly, he has a humanoid girlfriend, a Boop rip-off minus the “mature bosom” mentioned by the judge in the famous Kane vs Boop lawsuit. The boobless Boop decides to flip Flip the Frog the bird and takes off with a prettyboy male Boopoid figure. So, in time-honoured LA fashion, Flip gets a new face.

Very strange stuff in the mask shop / plastic surgery. And meanwhile UnBetty is being chased by a thuggish molester. Betty Boop toons are brimming with rape menace, of course, but what’s most disturbing about this film is the long delays between threat and rescue, during which it’s hard to picture anything passing the time that doesn’t involve UnBetty actually getting savagely used. It’s also notable that these cartoons take place in a kind of lawless wild west vision of America. In a sense, most Hollywood cinema seems to assume that the Wild West never went away.

I dig the Lionel Atwill moment when Flip’s new face cracks open to reveal his true Anuran countenance beneath. This is a very strange film.

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