In honor of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I thought I’d share a blast from the past that was a favorite in my household when I was growing up. My parents and I still talk about all the songs we loved in the D-TV episode titled “Doggone Valentine.”
Disney’s D-TV “Doggone Valentine” Title Card
For those of you who don’t remember it, D-TV was Disney’s kid-friendly response to the growing popularity of music videos in the mid to late 1980s. Originally released on NBC for Valentine’s Day 1987, “Doggone Valentine” was branded as “Doggone Hits” in subsequent airings on the Disney Channel. I think this is where my parents taped it on VHS, ostensibly for me, but mostly because they loved the songs featured, like “Stray Cat Strut” and “Bad to the Bone.” You can watch the entire special in five parts on YouTube, which are linked below:
Note that the last video is mis-labled as “Part 6”, but it’s actually the fifth and final part.
In recognition of this most wonderful day of the year (aside from possibly July 17th) we thought we’d share some of our favorite holiday-themed Disney shorts.
Danny’s Pick: Donald’s Snow Fight (1942)
Danny says: I remember liking this one a lot when I was a kid. Donald and his nephews have an epic snowball fight for Christmas. Interestingly, although this short takes place at Christmastime and opens with Donald singing ‘Jingle Bells’, it was originally released in April of 1942. Although the film was released in the midst of WWII, the monumental battle fought evokes more of a Civil War feeling.
Melissa’s Pick: Lend a Paw (1941)
Melissa says: When Disney and his animators really began to hit their stride in the ’30s and early ’40s, they remade many of their earlier shorts. 1920s shorts featuring Alice or Oswald the Lucky Rabbit were re-written and animated to feature new stars like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. We’ll explore some of those remakes in-depth one day, but I’ve always thought that this one was notable because Lend a Paw is a remake of the 1933 short, Mickey’s Pal Pluto, which of course already starred Mickey and Pluto. The remake is special because of the dedication found on the opening title card: ‘This picture is dedicated to the Tailwagger Foundation in recognition of its work in lending a paw to man’s animal friends.’ It also took home the Oscar for best cartoon short subject that year. While this story doesn’t take place at Christmas specifically, its message of friendship and generosity and the wintry backdrop make it a Christmas cartoon in my eyes.
There are two new Mickey Mouse shorts online! First up, Pluto makes his all-too-brief debut in Dog Show.
There’s not a lot to say about Dog Show. Mickey and Pluto are training for a dog show, but Pluto is in a terrible accident. Goofy tries to stand in as his replacement, but plans go awry when Goofy interprets the shows events in unusual ways. Continue reading →
The latest modern Mickey Mouse short, Ghoul Friend, is a new Halloween-esque film.
Ghoul Friend (2013)
The setup is classic: Mickey Mouse is driving through a dark, scary forest when his car breaks down. When he gets out of the car to investigate the source of its trouble, he comes across a hideous … Geef Monster? Continue reading →
Today is the anniversary of a great Mickey Mouse short, Moving Day. Released June 20th, 1936, Moving Day was directed by Ben Sharpsteen. Sharpsteen is responsible for some of my favorite Disney animated shorts, including the cutest Silly Symphony of them all, The Cookie Carnival. I’ll be exploring a lot more of his work in upcoming installments of this series.
Sharpsteen started at Disney as an animator in 1929 and quickly became invaluable, producing some of the studio’s most memorable work. He animated on over 100 short films in the 1930s and directed in some capacity on each of Disney’s first five animated features. He was also from my neck of the woods in northern California, so I automatically like him.
From the late 1920s to early 1960s, Walt Disney made the best animated shorts in the industry. Other production studios like Warner and MGM also did amazing work in the genre, but I’ve always preferred the calmer, sweeter Disney pictures.
It used to be that when one visited the cinema, he would see a newsreel and a cartoon before the feature presentation. All movies were led by a cartoon, not just movies for children and families. It was part of the cinema-going experience. These shorts were made decades before my birth, yet became such a timeless staple of the of popular culture that I still grew up watching them. Just now we’re starting to see a return of theatrically-released shorts, but only in front of animated features. How I wish that Disney/Pixar and other studios would go back to producing dozens of shorts a year instead of one or two. I would certainly go to the movies more if a cartoon led every feature.
One of the things that continues to fascinate me about classic animated shorts is the physics of the cartoon universe. Not only did animators anthropomorphize anything and everything, but there seemed to be rules. Cartoon characters could break the rules of our physical universe, but still had a set of their own. Gravity exists only after you realize that you’re no longer on the ground. Fragrance can be visible, and when something smells good, a character may float involuntarily. A ‘toon can be flattened like a pancake, but will return to his original form when he re-inflates himself. When two cartoon characters get into a fight, they’ll be surrounded by a dust cloud (or in a very intense fight, a tornado).
Now that we live in Montana, our opportunities to enjoy some Disney magic in our hometown are few and far between. We can no longer go to the World of Disney in Manhattan on a whim, nor do we have great revival theaters that play the classics from time to time. Pixar Studios re-released a lot of its movies to AMC theaters on Memorial Day weekend, but the nearest AMC to us is probably hundreds of miles away. The one tiny mall in our city doesn’t even have a Disney store.
Often when we need a Disney fix, we just pop in a DVD or listen to park music at UAB Magic. We also subscribe to several blogs and post frequently on various Disney-dedicated message boards. But when I saw that Disney on Ice would be coming to our city about a month after we moved here, I suggested we go (read: I begged Danny to take me). I had been to Disney on Ice a couple times as a little girl with my family. Danny had never been and thus, didn’t know what to expect. This was probably lucky for me, as I’m sure I’ll never get him to make the same mistake again. He’s not a fan of ice skating, has no particular affinity for costumed Disney characters, and doesn’t enjoy live Disney shows with low production value (“Voyage of the Little Mermaid” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I’m talking about you).