An interesting note in our world that is dominated by pro football, that this short focuses on college football. The reason for that is that it was made in 1944. During this time, baseball was the biggest sport in the land, with boxing and horse racing not far behind. Pro football was an afterthought, and the college game was looked on as a much more relevant sport.
You can see that in the order of which the “How To” shorts were done. We saw shorts on skiing, boxing, baseball, track and field and riding a horse before football came to be. That said, this short seems to poke fun at football a little more than some of the previous entries in the series. It mocks the “chaos” of the game and even has a joke where the narrator’s explanation of the rules is muffled by the cheers of the crowd, implying that the rules are less than important.
The gags come fast and furious in this one, just like the best of the old Mickey Mouse shorts. Again, all the action makes fun of the back and forth nature of football, which was very true back in those days. The similarities to rugby were much more pronounced with fewer forward passes and much more wishbone formations, which is reflected in the lineups here.
Goofy plays all the parts as usual, and the distinctive differences in the different Goofs is an amazing piece of work. Taking the exact same character design and making it different enough that each one is a distinct design is not easy. But here, the Disney animation staff shows a wily coach, a pampered star player, a brutish lineman and a silly kicker all with the same character!
In the end, the short manages to tell the story of a full game, mixed with gags while also highlighting some of the intricacies of football. That’s not easy to do. It’s a testament to the skills of the animation team that they were able to do so. I recommend How To Play Football for anyone who loves Goofy or the sport of football.
It all starts with an overview on the ingredients: a college covered
with ivy, a coliseum or stadium with up to 100,000 rabidly wild cheering
fans, and so much more. Crowd noise prevented the narrator's voice from
being audible. In reality, he says, "the object of the game is to get the
ball into the opponent's end zone by air or foot. There are 11 men on either
team, 2 ends...and that's how the game is played."
As the game begins, Swivel-Head Smith of Taxidermy Tech returns a kickoff
105 yards for a touchdown, which nobody sees because the players and cameras
block the view of the play. Anthropology A&M fumbles the ensuing kickoff
and Taxidermy was ready to extend the lead, especially after an 8-yard run
that starts their drive. However, everything goes downhill after a delayed
handoff loses 9 yards. On third and 11, several players touch the ball on
a razzle-dazzle play, and as the last player touches the ball, he gets flattened
by everyone on defense, but an offensive player jumps in after the play
was dead and that penalized Taxidermy 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.
On 4th and 26, Taxidermy punts (thanks to the coach's smoking signal)
and although the punter is tackled, his foot manages to get a high spiral
off. The Anthropology player muffs the ball after being distracted by numerous
flashes from cameras, and it them becomes a game of hot-potato as nobody
could get the loose ball. Finally, after the ball travels 100 years, one
of the Anthropology players picks up the ball for a touchdown, but the extra
point was swallowed - I mean, blocked, to keep Taxidermy up 7-6.
A major blooper by the narrator states that "Anthropology A&M receives",
where in reality Taxidermy received the ball and got nailed at the 25 yard
line. The quarterback, on the first play rifles a pass off the fingertips
of a couple of players and is intercepted by Anthropology and returned for
a touchdown, with the player taking the entire grass field with him. The
extra point was hanging on the crossbar (after the holder had his head stepped
on by the kicker) and as the gun ended the half, the bullet pierced the
football, hanging halfway still. After a decision was reached, Anthropology
was credited with an unprecedented half a point, making the score 12 1/2
After the Taxidermy cheerleaders beat up on one of their own during a
cheer, the players rest up and the coach gives a pep talk, which end with
"NOW GET OUT THERE AND FIGHT!!" A shortened second half ensues as Swivel-Head
Smith makes some incredible moves to get himself an apparent touchdown,
but his showboating is costly as he is mauled 2 yards shy of the end zone,
causing injury. An unsuccessful two plays follow, then after medical people
detect that Smith's heart still had life in him, the coach puts him in for
one final play. After some illegal blocks by the offensive line, Smith gets
the ball and weaves through the carnage left on the field, but an Anthropology
player gets on his feet, and as the tension mounts, the announcer chomps
on his microphone as the player leaps to make a tackle. He misses, rams
the goalpost, and the goalpost rotates around to pull Smith in for the winning
touchdown, giving Taxidermy the win by half a point. The coach was then
tied up by everyone, thinking he belonged to a mental institution.
"How To Play Football" has 3 cuts. On 4th and 26, there is a scene before
the punt that has the coach smoking a cigar and the smoke spells out "punt".
Second, after the taxidermy cheer at the half, there is a spot that says
"during the half the players are allowed to relax", or something of that
nature. Finally, on the final play, Smith cuts back...but they leave out
"the crowd is hysterical" for some reason.
Disney has destroyed a piece of what Goofy is made of by cutting these
three scenes, and we are ALL at fault as a society. Can't there be an advisory
label that can be shown before the cartoon that says "this cartoon may contain
questionable scenes that some may consider offensive today despite the time
the cartoon was made. Use good judgement and discretion while viewing this
cartoon." That's all they need to do! There's enough sex and violence on
the radio and TV now, editing questionable parts of cartoons does not
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