Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Moose Hunt - April 8, 1931

28th in Mickey's short film series is the strange yet entertaining The Moose Hunt. While the film showcases solid animation and is the first of many Mickey and Pluto buddy films, its gags and premise are a bit... fanciful.

The toon begins with Mickey and Pluto gallavanting through the woods in search of a moose. The Moose Hunt is important for two reasons: (1)The toon is the first where Pluto is called by his name, and (2) it is the first to establish Pluto as Mickey's dog. Previously Pluto was seen as Minnie's pup in 1930's The Picnic.

Of course, technically that pooch was called Rover, so it would be correct in saying Pluto has always belonged to Mickey.

The Moose Hunt is labeled as "From the Vault" on the Mickey Mouse in Black and White: Volume 2 DVD due to the scene shown above. Mickey asks Pluto to perform a series of dog tricks, one of them to "speak". Pluto obeys by kneeling down on one knee and shouting "mammy", a parody of the famous performer Al Jolson's blackface routine in the movie The Jazz Singer. The gag was a fairly common one for the time, having also been seen in 1929's The Haunted House. Of course, today it is morally wrong to allude to such a rascist act.

Coincidentally, the scene also marks Pluto's first speaking role. In fact, part of the fanciful nature of this toon is the fact that Pluto speaks not one, but three times.

After Pluto literally speaks, Mickey plays fetch with his pooch. Pluto runs wildly into the forest and, unable to decide which stick is the original, picks up an oddly shaped branch.

Meanwhile, Mickey spots the "moose" running through the trees. He fires and becomes excited once he realizes he hits the creature; however, upon closer inspection it appears that the Mouse has accidentally shot and killed his pal Pluto.

Mickey, distraught over what he has done, cries over the fallen body of Pluto. This scene is remarkably moving and adds so much humanity to Mickey's personality. Even though Pluto looks to the camera and lets the audience in on his little joke, Mickey's cries of "is there a doctor in the house?" are still heart-breaking.

As Mickey begs his pooch to speak, Pluto jumps up and utters "kiss me!"

Happy to have his pal alive, Mickey once again sets out to find a moose. He blows his moose caller and immediately hears a call back. Pluto runs to investigate and seems to find the moose's scent among a small patch of trees; however, as the camera pulls back, the trees become the legs of a very large moose.

Oblivious to the fact he inadvertently found the moose, Pluto leads the animal straight to Mickey, who also fails to realize its presence. Finally, Pluto feels the hot breath of the moose behind him, and the dog nervously shouts, "The muh...the muh....the MOOOOOOSE!!!!"

Mickey instinctively readies his gun to shoot, but his nerves get the best of him as his violent shaking completely destroys his weapon. He and Pluto both run in fear with the moose in tow.

Our heroes run all the way to a cliff where, in what has to be the most fanciful moment in the entire film, Pluto magically flaps his ears and flies to safety. Apparently Pluto had his eyes set on Dumbo's job years before the elephant was even born.

The Moose Hunt is a fun cartoon which marks Pluto's first (but not last) "talkie". In later years the film will be somewhat re-imagined with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy in 1937's Moose Hunters, though that film includes no flying nor talking dogs.

The Moose Hunt can also be seen (with editing) daily at Disneyland's Main Street Cinema.

1 comment:

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