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Respect, Nine Old Men: Classic Disney Cartoons

Wednesday, 12 September 2012 08:17 Jennifer Devore
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Courtesy of Disney

Hey, kids! It's me, Miss Hannah Hart, your friendly ghostdame of The Del. Just skipping about the Roku this morning in my luxe Resort Suite at the Hotel del Coronado this gorgeous summer’s day ... and what did I find? Disney is giving up the goods: Classic Mickey & Friends cartoons!

I watched each and every one of Walt’s mini-flickers when they originally came out in theaters as early as the 1920s. Even after my unfortunate demise in 1934, I hightailed my haunted self into theaters well up into the 1960s. (After that, theater-going became a little sketchy in the 1970s, especially in downtown San Diego, Boston and New York. Icky and sticky.) Trust me, being a ghost up through the 1960s was much easier than it is now (far less crowded); plus, folks dressed a might better when going to the pictures. (Remember heels and hairbrushes, dames?) Disney animated shorts just filled up the dark, like a gentle flood of colour accompanied by the lulling sound of happy fantasy and storytelling. There’s nothing like a Disney cartoon.

If you’re only keen for Cars 2, WALL-E and the like’s cutting-edge animation; this ain’t it. This isn’t the latest evolution in cartooning technology; this is the original DNA, straight outta the primordial swamps. This is the genetic strain that runs through today’s Pixar genes, a Walt Disney Company subsidiary. Not familiar with classic Disney? (I sigh audibly here and swig my Pink Lady because I know, sadly, there are some half-portions out there whom have no clue about the likes of pre-Epic Mickey.) Just click on your Roku‘s Disney station and acquaint, or even reacquaint, yourself with the brilliantly-hued, richly-saturated, laugh-out-loud, pratfall-funny, simply-happy, Disney viewing.

This is Hawaiian Holiday (1937) and a slew of Goofy’s pre-WWII How-to films: Golf, Swim, Fly and the classic The Art of Skiing. Yaaa-hoo-hoo-hooweeeee! Mickey and the Seal (1948), Clock Cleaners (1937), The Whalers (1938), a variety of Pluto, Donald Duck and Chip an’ Dale shorts, plus, for you mystery lovers, my fave, Lonesome Ghosts (1937) with Sherlock Mickey, Donald and Goofy.

(Aside: Apropos to mysteries and ghosties, Yours Truly is headed home for Hallowe’en! Dr. Harvey & Hildy and big bro Hugh better get their costumes ready, ’cause we’re all spending the holiday in Salem, Mass at the Hawthorne Hotel! I’ll most likely do the Bellatrix Lestrange thing and, Hugh, I just learned, is going as Dr. Devorkian this year. Brilliant, I tell you! Brilliant! To that end, the Hawthorne Hotel had better prepare for a few more hauntings that night! Hannah Hart ghost-post for October? Murder, but yes!)

Back to the ‘toons, these are the original, kippy, good old-fashioned, pen-and-ink, hand-painted, stunning, watercolour cels  from the ingenuity of Walt Disney and the WDC’s Nine Old Men: Ollie Johnston, Les Clark, Ward Kimball, Wolfgang Reitherman, Frank Thomas, Mark Davis, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson and John Lounsbery. Indeed, it did all start with a mouse … and a few ducks, a dog, another dog and a couple of brazen chipmunks.

If I may be so bold, Disney Channel online-programming department, if you’re reading, any chance of adding some Unca Scrooge, more Hewey, Dewey and Louie and, please-oh-please, any Humphrey and Ranger Smith shorts?! First you pick it up, put it in the bag. Bump, bump!

Disney, overall, may not float your boat. Maybe you’re too smooth, Abercrombie. If that’s the case, I can’t help you. I’ll wager you “don’t get” puppies, either. Those of you whom do appreciate the dynamic artistry, talent and sheer, organic purity and originality of early-20thC. animation, treat yourself: Roku Disney >>Mickey & Friends >>Classic Cartoons. No queue necessary; they’ll play one after the other.

My man Walt is laying it down like its Saturday night in Kansas City and I don’t care what you do or don’t think about Mr. Disney himself, his contributions to American industry or contemporary, digital animation … nothing beats early-Disney for the fine art of modern animation. Got a beef, by the by, with Mr. Disney? Good luck, ’cause now you got a beef with one Miss JennyPop! I dare you to take it up with his most gleaming, eternally Disneyfied devotee, my pally, Jennifer Susannah Devore. Them’s fightin’ words, for certain!

“How does Disney not continue to make this quality of film?” ponders a very digital, very modern-minded filmmaker I know and whom, almost by default, rejects any film made prior to the 1980s (A Pavlovian response, to be sure, due to being forced to watch “old films” by snarky, pompous, film school profs.). “Even the music,” he says, “when I’m not watching the screen, the music is so entertaining and fresh. It just makes you happy.” (Full disclosure: the filmmaker in question did his Master’s degree internship at WDS, in the old Animation Building, to boot.)

By the by, Miss Jenny, being a good Disney girl, a lifelong fan since weekly, family dinners at The Blue Bayou and, thanks to her Parental Units, having been an annual passholder since Year One, way back in the day when the Park started all that jazz, plus having worked at The Happiest Place on Earth during her Twenty-three skidoo! college days, knows just a few million bits of trivia about the Man, his Mouse and their House. (Don’t ask her about the Cars movies, though.  Other than the fact that Captain Sig Hansen did a voice over in Cars2 and that there’s a animated Porsche in one of the films, she’s knows squat.) Are you a Disney dork, too? Enter “Disney” or “Disneyland” right up there in the search bar of JennyPop.net, and you’ll find post after post of Disney goodness.

To that point, do you know how to tell the difference betwixt Chip an’ Dale? Why, it’s easy peasy lemon sqeezy! Dale’s nose is red, whilst Chip’s is black, similar to  … a chocolate Chip.

 

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Jennifer Susannah Devore

Jenny Pop is the acclaimed Author of the Savannah of Williamsburg series of books and The Darlings of Orange County. In addition, Jen is a prolific consumer of media and pop culture. Never leaving the house without her journal and fave Waterman pen, an old-fashioned, analog book (usually Hunter S. Thompson) and a fresh coat of lipstick, she is constantly on the hunt for fun, espresso, animation  and comics of any kind and always ready for an impromptu day at Disneyland.  JennyPop.net is a natural extension of  Jen's World; so, spend some time visiting. You'll have fun, she promises!

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Meet Miss Hannah

Hannah Hart, ghost dame of the Hotel del Coronado

Hannah Hart, ghost dame of the Hotel del Coronado

So, here's the low down, all you Joes and Janes ... I'm Hannah Hart, dead girl. Don't fret, it's actually a sweet dish being dead. Having perished in 1934 in a terrifically vicious accessories incident with actress Ida Lupino, I reside where I died: San Diego's gorgeous Hotel del Coronado. It ain't a bad gig at all, really! Great weather, swanky guests (not to mention a few fellow ghosties), amazing amenities, my own private turret overlooking the sea and all the java juice and giggle water I can handle; plus, these bartenders know how to make a Planter's Punch like nobody's business! See, I've been waiting for this Internet thing forever ... now, instead of slamming doors and moving lamps, I get to wag my tongue all I like at goodtobeageek.com

Abyssinia, kids!