Friday, 26 July 2013

That Cow's Plane Crazy

An historic cartoon starts with a black screen. Slowly, something appears. It’s a cow walking away from the camera. Pretty inventive stuff.

It’s the opening from the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Plane Crazy.” Mike Barrier’s fine research reveals that Ub Iwerks started drawing it in late April 1928, with Ben Clopton doing some kind of assistant work until leaving the studio on May 12th. The cartoon was previewed on May 15th. I’ve read no reviews of the preview, if any were ever written. As you likely know, Walt Disney soon decided sound was the coming thing, so a soundtrack was recorded for it in New York City on November 13th and 14th, just days before “Steamboat Willie” opened to the critics’ delight at the Colony Theatre. “Plane Crazy” was then released with sound, the score provided by Carl Stalling.

Incidentally, Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising weren’t above lifting ideas from the Oswald cartoons they worked on in the ‘20s and reusing them in their cartoons released by Warner Bros. Hugh and Rudy didn’t work on “Plane Crazy” but they stole the cow-walking-away-camera-opening for the 1930 Looney Tune “The Booze Hangs High.” I’m no Oswald expert so I don’t know if this opening was used in an Oswald silent cartoon.

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