Thursday, 8 November 2018

An Anvil Gag From Walt Disney

“When was the first anvil dropped onto someone in a cartoon?” you may be asking yourself. I’m afraid I don’t have the answer, but it goes back to the silent era.

In fact, that gag staple of the outrageous Tex Avery was used before him by the guy who is thought of as the polar opposite of Tex—that “illusion of life” man, Walt Disney.

Of course, there was a time before Uncle Walt wanted his animators to caricature real life. He went for the gag, like anyone else. In the 1927 cartoon Alice the Whaler, Walt pulls the old anvil gag (or maybe the new one, depending on when it was first used). What’s interesting is props appear and disappear during a scene on deck with a monkey. He’s pulling a rope. At least, he looks like he is. Then the rope fades in. He tugs at the stuck rope. Down comes the anvil. Bam! Then the anvil fades away.

This cartoon’s hit and miss. There’s a gag where a parrot eats musical notes. Yeah, that’s it. But there’s a bizarre one where a mouse shoves a plunger or something down a hen’s throat and forces eggs out of the other end.

I imagine Ub Iwerks, Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising animated parts of this one.

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