lives up to its title: It's been impossible to see many of these shorts for decades. Walt Disney bankrupted his fledgling Laugh-O-Gram studio making "Alice's Wonderland," but the short earned Disney his first national distribution contract. Films featuring animated characters in live-action settings were common during the silent era; Disney reversed the situation, placing a live actress (Virginia Davis) in a cartoon world. The "Alice" series ran from 1923-1926, and several girls played the title role. These silent films have been handsomely restored and given upbeat musical tracks by Alex Rannie.
The Oscar-winners "Ferdinand the Bull" (1938) and "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" (1953) rank as genuine classics, and have been unavailable for far too long. The wartime cautionary tale "Chicken Little" (1943) displays more imagination than the 2005 feature adaptation of the same story. "The Truth About Mother Goose" (1957) reflects the influence of Sleeping Beauty (1959), which was in production then; the elephants in "Goliath II" (1960) anticipate the ones in The Jungle Book (1967).
"Noah's Ark" (1959), Disney's first stop-motion film, features cleverly designed animals made from pencils, erasers, corks, pipecleaners, and other found objects, but the obstrusive '50s songs quickly cloy. Many of the films from the '50s and early '60s ("Pigs Is Pigs," "A Cowboy Needs a Horse," "Paul Bunyan" ) reflect the look of the UPA Studio. The characters are flatter, simpler, and more angular; the backgrounds, more stylized. Although Disney had dominated the cartoon short during the '30s, the studio largely shifted to feature and television production during the '40s and '50s. Disney Rarities is a set fans and students of animation will want to own. (Unrated, suitable for all ages: cartoon violence, tobacco use, ethnic stereotypes) --Charles Solomon
This fascinating volume features some of Walt's most unique animated triumphs. Included are several of Walt's "The Alice Comedies," a pioneering series of early short films that combined live-action and animation. These wonderful, lesser-known unique films pre-date much of the work that would make him world-famous. "Alice's Wonderland" is one of Walt's very first films. Fans will enjoy the unique animation of "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom," which won an Academy Award(r) (Best Short Subject (Cartoon) 1953) and was the first cartoon produced in Cinemascope. This short film established a completely new animation style for the Studio. DISNEY RARITIES, CELEBRATED SHORTS 1920s-1960s showcases a large collection of Walt's outstanding animated shorts that fans may not be aware of. Bonus features include: "Alice's Cartoon World" in which Leonard Maltin discusses Disney's historic "Alice" shorts with Virginia Davis who played the original Alice when she was 4-years old; "From Kansas City to Hollywood" - a timeline of Walt's silent era; "A Feather In His Collar" a rarely seen short supporting the Community Chest; audio commentary for "A Symposium On Popular Songs" by composer Richard Sherman, and still frame galleries. Introductions by Leonard Maltin.
* Alice's Wonderland * Ben and Me
* Alice Gets in Dutch * Football, Now and Then
* Alice's Wild West Show * Toot, Whistle, Plunk & Boom
* Alice in the Jungle * Pigs Is Pigs
* Alice's Egg Plant * Social Lion
* Alice's Mysterious Mystery * A Cowboy Needs a Horse
* Alice the Whaler * Hooked Bear
* Ferdinand the Bull * In the Bag
* Chicken Little * Jack and Old Mac
* The Pelican and the Snipe * The Story of Anyburg, U.S.A.
* The Truth about Mother Goose * The Brave Engineer
* Paul Bunyan * Morris, the Midget Moose
* Noah's Ark * Lambert, the Sheepish Lion
* Goliath II * The Little House
* The Saga of Windwagon Smith * Adventures in Music: Melody
* A Symposium on Popular Songs