The gags of the trolley adjusting to the track, Oswald reducing the size
of the trolley to go under the old cow blocking the tracks and getting the goat
to push the trolley up the hill were well done.
The wild roller coaster type ride is a forerunner to a forerunner of
later Disney wild rides,
is one that comes to my mind.
A solid start to the Oswald series and it is easy to see why Oswald became
a success. If Disney had kept the rights to Oswald he rather than Mickey might
have become the greatest cartoon star of all.
I have to say, though, that I can see the evolution of Disney's animation
much better moving from Alice to Oswald than I did in the Alice comedies
Trolley Troubles still flows really well
in its reissue format so maybe not so much was cut and reordered in this
one. I'm also really curious to see the original Oswald in
so I hope that one surfaces one day.
Let me back up, though, and give a brief background on Oswald. After
our last short, Alice the Whaler, there
were a few more Alice Comedies, but Walt and his distributor Charles Mintz,
had agreed that the series had run its course. Mintz wanted a new character
and to do away with the expensive live action blend. Walt and Ub got to
work designing a new lead, and soon Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was born.
In design, Oswald was similar to Julius, blended with some elements
of the mouse character from
Alice the Whaler
and other films. The first short sent to Mintz was
Papa. The reception was, well, not good. Mintz declined to move
forward with the series based on
He said Oswald was too mean and unlikeable. The next short,
was much more to his liking, and Oswald made his public debut in September
I have not seen Poor Papa. and
don’t have a copy of it, but I can definitely see why
was such a step forward. The storytelling is back to the standards of some
of the best Alice shorts – Oswald has a trolley that he is trying to get
from one end of the track to the other, safely delivering his passengers.
All the action unfolds from that framework.
The main thing I noticed while watching, however, was the new fluidity
and dimension in the animation. Take the sequence after Oswald picks up
his passengers, for example. In the Alice shorts, this would have been a
side to side shot. But now, it’s animated with the trolley coming straight
at the viewer, swaying from side to side, adapting to the track, and squashing
and stretching to show a loose, free flowing action.
There is not much conflict in the short, which is probably its main flaw.
The first obstacle Oswald encounters is a cow in the middle of the track,
that impedes his progress. In an inspired bit, he simply shrinks the trolley
to go underneath the cow.
The second conflict is a hill that the trolley has trouble getting over.
This time, Oswald enlists the aid of a goat, enticing the animal to hit
him in the behind, but keeping the goat at the end of a pole to push the
trolley up the hill.
The problem with that is that the downhill run is a little quicker than
Oswald had bargained for. Again, the free flow and the depth of the animation
are great here. The trolley swerves back and forth from left to right, going
diagonal across the screen. It’s a new shot from what we expected in the
The final scene comes as the trolley flies headlong into a river at the
bottom of a canyon, and Oswald paddles away, having failed in his mission.
The short, though, has succeeded, by giving us a new character to view.
Although I don’t have all the Oswald shorts, I’m really looking forward
to the rest of them, so long as they are as good as the first. Consistency
was the main problem with the Alice series, so we’ll see if that continues