A mixed bag of stormy offerings today from 1938, with heavy doses from Disney and Warner Brothers, and a side-dish from Terrytoons and Columbia, seasoned with a grand mix of well-known directors and a few lesser-known names from the ranks of Disney.
The Sneezing Weasel (Warner, Merrie Melodies, 3/12/38 – Fred (Tex) Avery, dir,) – A typical tale of a barnyard fiend – told in the manner that only Avery was accustomed to. Dawn breaks at the farm, thanks to the crow of a rooster – with the unique touch that, when the sun pops out one note ahead of the rooster’s completion of “Cock-a-Doodle-Doo”, the fowl, realizing his job is already done, never utters the final note, and merely plops his head on a pillow and goes back to sleep again. A mother hen takes handfuls of soil and squeezes them through a sieve, causing the worms to fall out for her chicks’ breakfast. One chick goes chasing after a worm who tries to get away, just as a storm cloud looms overhead and blackens the sky. In a modification of his gag from “Porky the Rainmaker”, a lightning bolt spells out the word “SCRAM” instead of “BAM”. Mama huddles chicks under her petticoats of feathers and races back home. In one of the funnier ideas of the film, mother attempts to take a head count of her brood – but the chicks scatter and peck every which way in the living room, causing Mom to lose count, again and again and again – until she rolls out an adding machine, and punches in some complex calculations. “One missing!”, she shrieks after reading the printed results. Grabbing an umbrella near the door that has absolutely no fabric covering on it, she rushes outside and finds her chick – just short of being captured by an unseen weasel behind a tree.
The weasel (voiced by Avery, in his deep basso laughing voice also used in Hamateur Night, The Penguin Parade, and others), overhears conversation in the house as the chick develops a case of the sneezes from the rain dousing, and Mama sets out with her useless umbrella for the help of Dr. Quack. A quick-change, and the weasel appears at the door in doctor’s disguise. “Boy, that’s service”, remark the chicks. The plan falls flat when the sick chick sneezes in the weasel’s face, blowing away his disguise. To military tunes including “All’s Fair in Love and War” from Busby Berkeley’s “Gold Diggers of 1937″, the chicks don bottle-cap helmets and wage war on the weasel, including a barrage of popcorn kernels shot out the hollow handle of a cooking pan. But the chicks needn’t bother much with the fight, as the sick chick has already provided a better weapon. His cold is contagious, and the weasel’s got it. The weasel engages in a prolonged sneezing fit, with an array of spot gags as various household objects react to his powerful blow (including pages of a book torn and blown away, followed by the cover closing to reveal it is a copy of “Gone With the Wind”). Eventually, the weasel winds up prone in the chick’s bed, just as the real Dr. Quack arrives – with a bottle of castor oil. The chicks hide in a closet, while the Dr. pours out a dose of the viscous stuff for his patient under the covers. The weasel revives just in time to see the spoon, and quickly retreats out the window, into the storm and down the road. The chicks emerge from the closet and break into laughter at the window – but the doctor has already spotted his real patient, and pours the nasty medicine down his throat. The chick disappears into the nearest bathroom. The weasel returns to peer in the window, giving his heartiest horselaugh at the suffering of the chick – but the chick has the last laugh, surprising everyone by appearing out the door of a cuckoo clock above, and conking the weasel unconscious with a mallet for the iris out.
Snow Time (Ub Iwerks/Columbia, Color Rhapsodies, 4/14/38 – Ub Iwerks, dir.) – One of many films produced for hire by Ub Iwerks after distribution opportunities for his Celebrity Productions dried up, released under the banner of Charles Mintz’s Color Rhapsodies. It is an odd film, that seems to want to be an answer to MGM’s “To Spring”, explaining how the winter season gets started instead of the springtime. However, its visuals are noy nearly as impressive as the MGM counterpart. Its “explanation” really isn’t much of an explanation at all, being rather non-lineal and lacking in a true motivation. The film is further weakened in structure by extended “framing” segments involving a classroom of students and a Professor Owl, in which Owl is asked what makes the snow and causes the winds to blow. When the action commences about two minutes into the film, we are introduced to a kingdom of the Northern Lights at the polar ice cap, presided over by King Winter, a white-bearded Old King Cole type, and a pair of walruses who act as his singing heralds, announcing “King Winter’s on the air.” Winter declares, “The freezin’ season’s here again. Put on your underwear.” For no apparent reason, a meddlesome penguin wanders into the shot past the ice throne, then waddles over to an ice door to peer into a workshop, where the snow and ice are mass produced and packaged. Raw ice blocks are sent down to the workers from an undisclosed source via a toboggan-style slide course. The ice undergoes various processes. Elves use a buzz saw to slice the blocks into smaller sheets. A large stamping press clamps down upon some of the ice to mold it into batches of quality icicles, which are then tested by an elf who plays them like xylophone bars, discarding defective ones that don’t ring out with a clear tone.
Other sheets are fed into a grinder, which reduces them to wind-blown snowflakes, which are then loaded by chute into hollow clouds until they are filled, after which an elf seals each cloud up with a zipper. A live snowman serves as a bowling pro, repeatedly bowling strikes upon a bowling alley. The impact of the ball on pins produces a loud crash which materializes in the form of a brown, wispy cloud. Eack cloud disappears from the alley through a chute, where the gaseous vapors are squeezed by an elf into canisters, each labeled with the word “Thunder.” At this point, the details of production largely break off, as the intrusive penguin decides to reach for a bowling ball to try the game himself. The snowman selects him instead of a bowling ball, scores another strike, and causes the bird to be mixed up with one of the thunder canisters. The bird escapes, only to get caught in the snowflake machine, then zippered inside a cloud, which he eventually busts apart from the inside to free himself. The cartoon’s setting then shifts to an exterior view of the icy terrain, where we meet four transparent singing winds merrily dancing, and claiming that they have no wish to scare people with their moans. The penguin, again with no explanation, seems to mingle in their dance, without it being determined if he is just being bothersome or acting as a distraction. For at the same time, the snowman creeps up behind the winds, and tosses a net over them, capturing them to drag back to King Winter. King Winter then stages a parade to welcome the season, one float including the four winds, still captive in their net, without precisely explaining what role they will play in the King’s plans. The penguin brings up the rear of the parade, and sees a stray string hanging from a corner of the net holding the winds. He pulls at it, and unravels the net, freeing the winds, who topple canisters of thunder also carried on their float, and begin chasing the penguin, blowing snow at him and causing lightning flashes as they go. The scene dissolves back to the classroom, where Professor Owl is still talking of the penguin being chased, and the lightning flashing. (So, is winter the result if King Winter’s efforts? Or of the winds’ angry reaction to being held captive?) A student ends the lecture abruptly, by inserting the professor’s tail into an electrical socket, to provide him with a lightning source of his own, causing the professor to crash through the ceiling and back into the classroom in a heap, for an abrupt ending to this somewhat confusing cartoon.
Porky’s Five and Ten (Warner, Porky Pig, 4/16/38 – Robert Clampett, dir.) – Porky embarks upon an unusual business venture – opening a five and dime store on the tropical island of Boola Boola. Aboard the schooner Petunia, Porky sets sail, his deck laden with a tower of miscellaneous merchandise. He does not count on the interference of a school of larcenous fish, who spot his ship in mid-ocean. A swordfish commits the breaking and entry, by sawing the bottom of Porky’s ship to cut a hatchway door, then opening it to allow Porky’s cargo to sink to the ocean floor. Porky too falls through the trap door, but is shoved back aboard the ship by the swordfish, who closes the door behind him. (All rules of physics regarding water displacement are thrown out the window for this story, as not one drop of water leaks into the ship from the opening of the trap door, the water and air instead maintaining their respective positions parallel with the hull bottom. This phenomenon continues throughout the cartoon, Porky taking several opportunities to open the door and peer into the water, as if he was commanding a glass-bottom boat.) The fish have a holiday through the courtesy of Porky’s merchandise, including constructing a replica of Hollywood Hotel, a fight arena (using the keys of a typewriter as ring, allowing the footwork of the boxers to type out a blow-by-blow description of the bout), and a dance hall (where a fish performs a shimmy dance, thanks to the swinging pendulum of a clock he has swallowed). Porky meanwhile is kept at bay be a sentry fish, left on guard by the swordfish and armed with the swordfish’s removable nose as a bayonet. The whole thing comes to a head as a large waterspout approaches the ship (possibly the first instance of use of a water-bound tornado in animation). A radio in the dance hall below broadcasts a warning of the spout bearing down upon them. The fish listen, but then calmly resume dancing, until the announcer returns, telling them to scram. A fish dives for protection into a clam shell, which is in turn pushed inside a larger, and larger, and larger shell, like a set of nested dolls – then the fish hangs a sign outside the shells reading “Do Not Disturb.” Sardines retreat inside a sardine can, with one stopping to kneel alongside the can to say his prayers before rolling the can lid up over himself. The waterspout hits Porky’s vessel, sending it spinning in circles around the base of the spout. However, the whirlpool produced from the activity above gets hold of all of Porku’s merchandise at the bottom, spiraling it upwards and into the air. Everything lands where it began – back upon the deck of Porky’s ship, as the waterspout dissipates and subsides. Porky sails away, leaving the sentry fish peering out of the water in dismay. However, Porky returns to even the score, retaliating by spraying the fish in the face with the spray of a seltzer bottle; leaving the fish in a Stan Laurel cry as Porky sails into the sunset.
Now That Summer Is Gone (Warner, Merrie Melodies, 5/14/38 – Frank Tashlin, dir.) – A Grasshopper and Ants-style parable, with a modern twist. As the screen becomes a sea of color from the falling leaves of an early autumn, a squirrel community labors with fervor to complete the task of storing away winter nuts. Trees have their entire crop shaken down by harnessing them to the straps of an exercise machine. Others obtain the trees’ bounty by pulling the lever of slot machine wheels in their trunks to hit a jackpot, or striking their trunks with a large metal ball launched from a spring-loaded mechanism, in the manner of a forest pinball machine. Nuts are graded for size, then for condition on an assembly line, including one grader who labels appropriate nuts Kosher for Passover in Hebrew. And thrifty enterprising squirrels lug sacks of their precious nut savings to the “First Nutional Bank” for safe-keeping. However, an elder squirrel peers about wondering at the whereabouts of his son. Junior is the only member of the community who is not laboring to harvest and store nuts. Instead, he has found his own easy way of gathering a harvest – crap shooting! He takes bets from his fellow squirrels, consisting of their nut sacks, and cleans them out with his skillful dice rolling. Poppa does not approve upon catching Junior in the act, and smacks him a good one across the face, tumbling him several feet from the impact. Still, as the season progresses, Junior is found at it again, and avoids another painful smack by belting himself across the jaw, with the same tumbling result.
Just as the season is about to end, Poppa sends Junior to bring home their nut reserve sack from the bank as their food for the winter, with a warning not to gamble. Junior does as he is told, so far as retrieving the sack. But a previously unseen adult squirrel with a fancy green coat, red moustache, and derby hat appears in the woods at a tree-stump table top, and calls to the boy whether he would be interested in engaging in a little game of chance. “Okay” says Junior, pouring out a heap of nuts onto the table. The stranger produces a pair of dice, and instantly rolls a seven. “You lose, Sonny”, he states, sweeping into his own sack the ante of nuts. The stranger suggests more games, producing a deck of cards and a roulette wheel, and spends the afternoon fleecing his youthful victim. “What? No more nuts?”, says the stranger as night begins to fall, finding Junior’s sack empty, and his own full. “Well, better luck next time”, he closes, flinging the heavy sack onto his back, and proudly strutting away into the forest with a sadistic villain-style chortle. Snowflakes begin to fall, and Junior finds himself left alone, empty-handed, and hopeless as to what he will survive on for the winter – and what he will tell Poppa. He trudges slowly back toward his home, as the winds pick up violently, casting snow flurries sideways across the screen through a fade out, and into the next shot, as the squirrel shields his face from the icy blasts, only a few short steps from reaching his front door. Poppa waits inside, patiently and seemingly unsuspectingly rocking in a rocking chair. When your back is to the wall, its time to think up a good lie, so Junior does so quickly. He enters the home, pretending to stumble down the stairs as if nearly at the point of exhaustion. “They got me”, he declares. “Who got’cha?” asks a curious Pop. Junior begins to spin a wild yarn of having been set upon by robbers. He claims he fought the first wave of them off, then was jumped by fifty more. “How many?”, asks Pop, daring him to repeat it again. While Junior’s tale is progressing, he fails to observe Poppa behind him, making a quick costume change – into a green coat, red moustache, and brown derby. When Junior turns, he finds himself staring into the face of the same stranger who bilked him. The stranger and Pop are one and the same! Junior’s voice trails off, as it sinks un that the jug is definitely up. “I’ll give you ten lashes that you won’t forget”, snarls Pop, taking Junior across his knee. Contemplating his fate, Junior tries for one last way out. “I’ll flip ya, Pop – double or nothing.” But he finds no taker for this offer, as Pop begins laying it in to Junior, leaving his shouts of pain to be head even over the soundtrack of the “That’s All Folks” ending credits.
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod (Disney/RKO, Silly Symphony, 5/27/38 – Graham Heid, dir.) – I can find absolutely no information on the mystery director of this film anywhere on the web, nor do I recall his name turning up on the credits of other Disney films. (His name does not even appear on the lengthy roll-call of credits on “Snow White”.) Can anyone provide any information about him, and what became of him? It is perplexing that this mystery man would turn out a visually-magnificent film such as this, then vanish without a trace. Does he hold some secret place in the background of animation history, or was he truly a “here today, gone tomorrow” unknown?
Crediting and reciting in song the rhyme of Eugene Field, the film follows the flight into the heavens of a giant wooden shoe, which serves as a ship to the stars, thanks to a mast and sail attached at the top, and a rudder affixed to the heel. Three young boys, toddlers all in jammies with drop seats that have a tendency to become unbuttoned, share duties navigating this craft. The purpose of their voyage is to do a little fishing, for which they have come equipped – with both nets, and rods and reels using peppermint candy canes as hooks instead of barbs and live bait. They glide over streams of shimmering light amidst the dark blue hues of space, and drift over cloudbanks along the way – getting stuck occasionally and having to get out and push as if they were temporarily caught on a sand bar. Visual effects are outstanding and of feature quality, including multiplane shots and amazing light-exposure work to produce shimmering glows. The boys reach a placid area that resembles a deep pool, and below them hover a school of fish – make that star-fish, as each one is actually composed of a living golden five-pointed star glowing brightly in the night. The three kids experience various misadventures and miscalculations in casting out their lines for their targets below. They each have a tendency to sneak a lick of the peppermint sticks before dropping them to the fish (perhaps, someone could fish for them with the same bait). One clever fish spots two dangling candy sticks luring him at the same time – and hooks one stick onto the other, snagging the lines together. Wynken and Blynken reel in, only to pull Nod overboard. Nod dangles helplessly below, while the wily fish humiliate him by licking his face. But there is bigger prey afoot. A white glow envelops Nod from one side, then passes him in a narrow miss like a comet. In fact, it is a comet, which makes several passes at Nod, until the other two boys reel Nod back aboard the shoe. To the kids, the comet is the equivalent of catching a whale – so, they cast out a giant net off the stern (hopefully of fire-proof materials).
The comet snags into the net mesh, and the boys dig their feet into the ship’s deck and railings, bracing while holding tight to the net’s rope moorings, to allow the comet to drag the ship along, and hopefully exhaust its energies so as to be captured. But things do not go as planned (of course not – this is a cartoon). The ropes snap, and the comet escapes, leaving the shoe to continue drifting under the momentum of the chase, right into the immense face of a puffy cloud. Animation is incredibly detailed, as the faces of the clouds compress and sem about to be dispersed imto separate parts like so much water vapor when touched by the shoe-ship. The boys suspect they are intruding, and attempt to busy themselves by blowing into the sail and maneuvering the rudder in hopes of making a quick exit. The cloud decides to “help” them catch a breeze – by blowing a blast into the sail. They skip across a patch of sky – right into another cloud’s face, where they receive the same treatment. The heavily shadow-modeled faces of the clouds take on an ominous yet playful demeanor, as more and more clouds join in the pastime of seeing just how far and fast they can blow the ship. Lightning flashes through the sky and within the bodies of the clouds to make the game even more foreboding. The boys are whipped around by the breezes every which way. The restraining ropes break from the ships deck, letting loose the corners of the sail, while two of the boys cling to the ends of each broken rope, dangling off their feet in the crosswinds. The ship rolls, spirals, and tumbles about, bouncing from one point in the sky to another. The sail rips in two down the middle, sending the two boys into circles around the mast, and the sail virtually ties in a knot around them. Then, the mast snaps, and boys and ship begin to fall. Fortunately, all are caught on the ray of a moonbeam, upon which boys ad ship slide down, down, toward the upper-story window of a residential bedroom. The boys and ship become more and more transparent, then sail into the open window. Beneath them, at the end of the beam of light, is a wicker cradle, and a small boy asleep within. The shoe-ship blends together with the cradle, until the two are one and the same. The three boys (whom the rhyme explains bear the names of two little eyes and a nodding head) also mesh and converge to merge with the sleeping child, as we realize this world has been in the child’s dreams. He rolls over in bed, the button of his pajama drop-seat popping loose, as the camera slowly irises out.
Chris Colombo (Terrytoons/Fox, 8/12/38 – Eddie Donnelly, dir.) – The first Terrytoon to be distributed by Fox, taking over where Educational left off – and a very good episode at that. The film recounts the voyage of Christopher Columbus, in typical Terrytoons style – as a semi-operetta, with mock Italian dialect. It is possible the voice of Chris is supplied by young tenor Roy Halee, in what may be one of his earliest roles for the studio. Chris first appears on the streets standing atop a “Soapa Boxa”, lecturing the masses on his theory that the world is round, like a globe he has fashioned and carries on a stick. “No no no no”, chant back the populace, as one of them grabs away Chris’s globe and stomps on it, then points to indicate, “It’s flat, like that.” The only one who seems to give him any ear is Queen Isabella, listening from a balcony platform above. In a manner suggesting the personality of Mae West, she calls down, “I think ya got something there, Chris. Come up and see me sometime.” Chris does so, seeking financing for his voyage – but in a way unexpected. Like the squirrel in “Now That Summer is Gone”, Chris is also adept at shooting dice, and “shoots the works” for the royal jewels, and Isabella’s crown. He wins, carting off his jackpot in a wheelbarrow. From the balcony, Isabella inspects Chris’s dice in her hand, and wonders if they were loaded. She tosses them to the balcony floor – resulting in an explosion that blows up half the structure. “I was right. They were loaded!”, she shouts.
Chris embarks on the Santa Maria, taking along a true crew of Italians – all of them gypsy organ grinders with monkeys. The monkeys dance with each other on deck, and ride upon the ship’s capstan like a merry-go-round – with each taking turns to attempt to grab the golden earring out of the ear of one of the organ grinders. A parrot in the crow’s nest spots some threatening clouds and rough seas ahead, and announces a storm is brewing. As the tempest breaks, the ship’s figurehead, feeling the first drops of rain, reaches into a porthole of the ship, retrieving an umbrella to hold over her head. Shifting winds and currents send Chris repeatedly spinning over the top of the ship’s wheel, and the parrot calls out directional readings from the compass, “North, 27….West, 62….” A violent directional shift spins the compass needle so fast, the mechanism explodes. The parrot concludes his readings with a shout of “Bingo!” A lightning bolt stabs down, severing the restraining rope on the spanker boom, and sending it wildly spinning around the mast. The parrot ducks out of the way, while Chris darts in to try and stop the spinning. Instead, he is knocked by the boom clean off the ship. (Historical note: an odd gag, as the Santa Maria carried no rotating boom, but instead used a triangular sail extending ahead of the mast and supported only from above by an angled spar – the spanker sail having not yet been invented!) Chris is caught by the whitecaps of the pounding seas, which transform shape into watery hands, and pitch him back to the ship. In a clever payoff to the situation, the still twirling boom and the waves engage in a brief game of baseball, alternately batting and fielding Chris like a big league fast ball. Chris finally lands back on deck at the helm, and the lightning gets into the act again, sending down jagged bolts that stab into the deck like spears and wedge themselves there. One bolt lands with its tip stuck in the deck and its shaft jammed between the spokes of the ship’s wheel, freezing its rotation. Chris bats away one of the bolts with an oar, but another more flexible bolt grabs the oar away and bops Chris with it, knocking him overboard again. A large wave washes Chris back again upon the deck, and Chris slaps his head to force sea water out of one ear – finding a live fish also emerging from within his cranium, to which he shouts, “Hey, whatsa matta?” The whistling of increasing winds is heard, causing Chris to race to his cabin and shut the door. From the horizon, a giant anthropomorphic black cloud appears, producing fists which pound upon the ship’s sides like forceful knocking on a door. Inside the cabin, Chris has found his crew also huddled, and they stand braced against the door, as Chris asks, “Who’s-a there?” In one of the studio’s only instances of direct lampoon of a Disney film, the cloud responds in a mild falsetto voice, resembling the Big Bad Wolf in his sheep disguise, “I’m just a little breeze. Please let me in.” Chris responds, “Nor-a by the whiskers on my chin. I no let-a you in.” The cloud turns angry, and in a gruff voice challenges, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and you’ll be ‘Gone With the Wind’.” The cloud lets loose a blow that lifts the ship clean out of the water, sailing it through the skies. Fortunately for Chris, the ship touches down at a destination never on the real Columbus’s charts – at a ship’s landing off of Manhattan Island, already loaded with the familiar skyline of skyscrapers. Chris and a few of his crew members march off the ship, carrying some sacks of gold to trade. They are met as typical tourists, by a row of Indian hawkers seeking to sell blankets, hot dogs, souvenier photos, and taxi rides. Chris’s delegation marches right past them, and through the open gates of a wooden fort. (Another odd gag. Fort building was the habit of the settlers, not the Indians.) The gate closes behind them, displaying a large sign reading “Bureau of External Revenue”, further indicating collection of seven types of taxes, including among them “carpet tax”. After some violent rumblings behind the fort walls, Chris and his crew members emerge, penniless and dressed in barrels. They race for the ship amidst a flight of arrows from the Indian bows. Chris stumbles, and his barrel begins rolling ahead of his crew members. A triangular formation of Indians attempts to block him at the dock, but Chris’s barrel “bowls” them over, then rolls up the gangplank while his crew members follow. He leaves the Indians behind, sailing for home, and a lot to answer for, as the film irises out.
Mickey’s Parrot (Disney/RKO, 9/9/38 – Bill Roberts, dir.) – A stormy night finds a lonely moving van rolling down a muddy, wheel-etched road, its tires bounding violently in and out of the water-soaked ruts left by other vehicles along the highway. Inside the open-backed body of the van are packed all manner of furniture and bric-a-brac, and hanging among them, a parrot in a cage. The parrot is not particularly miffed by the inclement weather, and seems to be taking it in stride, singing a chorus of “Blow the Man Down” like a weathered old salt who has seen the like of such a gale on many of the seven seas. Another rut gives the van a jolting bounce, and before the parrot knows it, his cage has fallen out of the van and crashed to the ground, setting him free. The driver is entirely oblivious to the incident, and continues on his way as if nothing has happened, leaving the parrot stranded. The parrot observes the mailbox of Mickey Mouse at the roadside, and Mickey’s cozy bungalow. “Any old port in a storm”, quips the parrot, as he strides toward an open cellar window.
Inside, Mickey and Pluto are relaxing before their console radio, listening to a sticky-sweet juvenile children’s show. But their peace is abruptly disturbed by a news flash – Machine Gun Butch, the killer, has escaped from incarceration, and is rumored to be in the vicinity. All persons are advised to lock their doors and windows and take all precautions against the killer’s intrusion. Mickey indeed does make sure his doors and windows are closed, and arms himself with a double-barreled shotgun, quaking in terror at the thought of encountering the killer. Pluto too is a bundle of nerves, when strange sounds are heard in the basement. Of course, it is the parrot and not the killer, but a series of misapprehensions and mis-observations lead Mickey and Pluto upon a fearsome search for the killer. Mickey wrestles with an old pair of shoes that follow him down the cellar staircase when their shoelaces catch upon the stock of his rifle. Pluto meanwhile finds his own trouble, when the parrot climbs to the ground floor through the furnace vent, and his salty wise-cracking voice is mistaken by Pluto to be coming first from a goldfish in a bowl, then from a roast chicken which seems to be alive (the parrot has stepped inside it). Eventually, the parrot is revealed to Pluto, but tips a can of unpopped popcorn onto a stove top. Mickey mistakes the popping for machine gun fire, and barricades himself in the fireplace, firing back with his rifle. He utterly destroys a china cupboard where the parrot is hiding, but the parrot emerges unscathed, responding “Don’t shoot! I guess ya got me.” Mickey is pleasantly relieved to discover the bird, ad offers him crackers and the run of the house. Pluto continues to object, but is quieted by the parrot stuffing his barking jaws with a mouthful of crackers, for the iris out.
Donald’s Golf Game (Disney/RKO, Donald Duck, 11/4/38 – Jack King, dir.), appears as an honorable mention, including one brief scene where weather is generated artificially and portably. A day’s outing on the golf links takes some unexpected twists and turns when Donald pressures Huey, Louie, and Dewey into serving as caddies. They can think of many things they’d rather be doing than lugging Donald’s heavy bags and clubs around – primary among such alternate options being playing practical jokes and raising mischief. They have thus brought along a special crate of clubs – Goofy Golf Clubs (no, not necessarily manufactured by Dippy Dawg), guaranteed to “play 1,000 tricks”. These mechanical marvels are the early-day equivalent of transformers, and each one possesses its own morphing powers to become something else, dedicated to spoiling any shot. Donald’s first club transforms its wooden head into a butterfly net, scooping up the ball instead of driving it 400 yards, and costing Donald a precious stroke. The next club is even more diabolical. As Donald swings it with gusto, he is lifted into the air – as the shaft of the club has opened into what might be one of Mary Poppins’ flying umbrellas. Donald rises about fifteen feet into the air, then slowly drifts back down, as the center pole of the umbrella reveals a secondary power – gushing water from a supply within, accompanied by sound effects, to supply its own built-in rainstorm. The humiliated Donald touches down, his outstretched hand getting soggily drenched by the sheeting rain pouring off the canvas surface of the umbrella. Then, the umbrella snaps shut, trapping Donald within the fabric. Donald struggles free, just as the water supply within the umbrella runs out. “What kind of a contraption is this?”, the duck squawks, as he looks down the hole from which the water had come out. The club contains yet another random surprise for anyone who gets nosy as to its workings – and pops out into Donald’s face a fake stuffed bee attached to a spring. Donald shrieks with fright, and drops the club to the ground, while the nephews double-up in laughter. Many more misadventures befall Donald at the mercy of the nephews, though for several minutes the Goofy Clubs are not in use. Finally at the end of the film, Donald tries to clobber the fleeing nephews, by grabbing up a golf club to fling at them. He does not notice that he has doubled back to the crate of Goofy Clubs, and chooses to throw one of such implements by mistake. The nephews “duck” as the club flies over them – and then another transformation takes place, as the club snaps in the middle to bend into a right angle, acquiring the shape and features of a boomerang. It circles in the air, passes back over the nephews’ heads, and returns to Donald, smacking him in the head and straight into the closest golf hole, where Donald comes to rest, upside down with his head caught in the hole, for a hole-in-one.
Next Forecast: Things don’t look so fine for 1939.