Well, the story begins with Oswald riding on his scooter on his way to
pick up his girlfriend. He is pulling petals off a flower saying (in his
mind) "She loves me. She loves me not." Well, she obviously loves him since
he's jumping up and down. Oswald arrives at the girl rabbit's house and
picks her up. They go off riding on their way to school. Meanwhile, a little
pig is seen with his mother who sends him off on the schoolbus. This looks
more like a paddywagon (a police truck for transporting criminals to prison)
than a schoolbus (but I guess children have always thought of school as
being a sort of prison). Pete is shown hanging on the back of the bus and
the driver blows exhaust at him causing him to jump off. Pete sees Oswald
and his girlfriend and decides to bump Oswald off. A question mark pops
out of Pete's head and he stretches it out, attaches it to a tree and when
the two rabbits scoot by, Oswald falls off. Pete is driving now and soon
lands into a lake. Oswald runs over to help his sweetheart, but Pete pushes
him out of the way and saves her. She is soon smitten with Pete and rejects
Oswald. Oswald challenges Pete to a fight at recess that day. Here we have
Oswald with a brick in his hand by the side of the schoolhouse and Pete
walks right behind him and taps him on the back. Oswald looks behind him
and Pete throws the brick up on the roof. With some pure luck, the brick
falls down the gutter and knocks Pete out. Oswald's girlfriend comes over
and sees him shouting at Pete. She soon loves Oswald again.
This was a great cartoon even though it was silent.
The big thing that stood out to me on
Troubles was the different direction in the animation, adding more
side to side movement, changing perspectives, etc. There is less of
that in the second short, but there are more gags, like those you would
see in the better Alice Comedies.
The story is somewhat straightforward, as Oswald is trying to woo
a young girl, but has a rival in a cat character that’s kind of a cross
between Julius and Pete. The gags begin early, as Oswald’s ears put
him in flight, expressing his delight as he goes to pick up his sweetie.
It’s a great gag, but it also shows some of his personality, which is
a key thing.
After Oswald picks up his girl, we cut to a young pig who’s being
picked up by the school bus. The school bus continues down the lane,
followed by the much larger cat character, who tries to hitch a ride
but gets knocked off. Undeterred, the cat knocks Oswald off his bike
and steals a ride to school.
Unfortunately, the cat is not a great driver, and he wrecks the bike,
sending Oswald’s girl into a nearby pond. Her cries of help reach Oswald,
quite literally, and he rides the word as a horse to save her. However,
as he extends himself out over the water, the cat runs over top of him,
fishes the girl out of the water and wins her temporary affection in
Of course this does not sit well with our hero, who tries to confront
him in a very funny sequence. Oswald draws a line in the sand, which
the cat merely picks up and knocks away, then knocks Oswald’s head off
his body. It’s a classic underdog matchup, and it really draws the viewer
onto Oswald’s side. As the school day begins, the cat drags Oswald’s
girl into school, where they stay until recess. As recess begins, Oswald
waits outside the school house with a brick, ready to clobber the cat
when he emerges. Unfortunately, the cat goes out the back door.
Being confronted by the cat, Oswald attempts to explain away the
brick as an exercise machine, but the cat is not buying it. He steals
the brick and throws it up in the air, but it lands in the storm drain,
and flies down the drain and right into the cat’s head, knocking him
out. Oswald is as shocked as anyone, but he takes advantage, pretending
he knocked the cat out as his girl comes by, and they are reunited.
Admittedly, the story is simple, but it is also charming. More so
than I ever did with Julius, I felt for Oswald here. He’s undersized
and overmatched, but he’s determined. It’s definitely a precursor to
Mickey in his early days, in the interaction with the girl. You could
easily replace Oswald and his girl with Mickey and Minnie and have one
of the early Mickeys.
If you haven't done so already check out the commentary on the DVD
by Mark Kausler. Not only does he point out who animated what, but he
also points out some of the reordered and missing scenes in the existing
reissue version. It would appear that originally the story was set out
a little differently. Starting with the scenes of kids getting the bus
(so setting up the idea they're going to school from the out set) and
introducing the naughty cat character before we cut to Oswald on his
way to pick up his girl.
It would also seem that the short was even more gag-packed including
what may have been the funniest scene (of the female rabbit forgetting
her underwear) and also a black-face gag (the cat gets a face fall of
smoke from the exhaust and ends up looking like a minstrel). This is
the earliest example of such a gag that I'm aware of in a Disney cartoon.
I did wonder if the smash hit film The Jazz Singer released the same
year influenced the gag – although I think the cartoon was made and
released a few months earlier so maybe not.
Interesting that you notice how the cat looks like a cross between
Julius and Pete. However, it's the later Pete that he looks like from
the Mickeys rather than the bear from the Alice Comedies. Pete himself
will return later in the Oswalds and it'll be interesting to see how
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