Monday, April 14, 2008

The History of Animation 16 - Walt Disney: Laugh-o-grams, Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots

"A Laugh-o-Gram Short"

Release Date November 3, 1922

Running Time 9:39

Director : Walt Disney

Sad Note: This animation is not currently available online.


Walt Disney
Rudolph Ising
Hugh Harman
Carman "Max" Maxwell
Lorey Tague
Otto Walliman

A boy falls for a princess, his cat for hers. But her father does not like the idea of a commoner marrying a noblewoman and kicks him out. After seeing a Rudolpho Valensino movie at the local theater his cat has the idea that he could try impressing the king as bullfighter, to win his daughters hand. Bullfighting is relatively easy, when you can hypnotize the bull, but why does his cat need new boots ?

Walt Disney was barely 21 years old and still working out of Kansas City when he and his earliest cohorts in animation produced this cartoon. PUSS IN BOOTS is a slangy update of the old fairy tale, complete with jazzy topical references to flappers, radio, and Rudolph Valentino. (Rudy is parodied in a brief burlesque of his bullfighting saga BLOOD AND SAND, a movie-within-the-movie entitled "Throwing the Bull.") The characters in this silent film converse in dialog balloons, as they would in a comic strip; similarly, when they're startled, their hats dance in the air, or little lines fly out of their heads-- it's like the Sunday funnies come to life.

The story is simple. A boy who is a commoner is in love with a Princess, but of course her father the King objects. However, the boy's cat has a plan to make him a hero, therefore an acceptable suitor. Lots of cute gags along the way boost the entertainment value of this very early Disney effort beyond what a plot synopsis might suggest. Character movement is a bit jerky at times, but the backgrounds are surprisingly elaborate, rather more detailed than those found in Disney's later 'Alice in Cartoonland' series or in the early Mickey Mouse cartoons. It's also impressive that these young filmmakers would take on the challenge of animating such a large crowd of spectators packing into the arena for the climactic bullfight. Even this early, Disney wasn't one to play it safe or cut corners. PUSS IN BOOTS is charming and funny, an inauspicious debut to a career whose impact can still be felt.


Probably the earliest Disney inside joke; when the boy and the cat are standing outside of a movie theater, one of the posters features "Cinderella," a Laugh-o-Gram then still in production.

Color Type : Black and White
Animation type : Standard
Sound mix : Silent
Aspect ration : 1.37 : 1
Negative format : 35mm
Print format : 35mm
Cinematographic process : Spherical
Original language : English

This is a very well-animated cartoon short for its time. The background art is exceptional, with a lot of use of perspective. A boy and his cat, Puss in Boots, visit the princess in her backyard. The king, however, catches the boy flirting with his daughter and kicks him out. After seeing a movie with a bullfighter, the boy gets an idea and decides to fight the bull at his local arena where the king and his daughter are watching.
Expect loads of wit and funny stuff. The sign advertising "$5 Boots now $4.99, the film-within-a film "Throwing the Bull" with "Rudolf Vaselino," etc.

After the boy (who is wearing a mask) wins the bullfight, the king says that he can marry his daughter. As soon as the boy removes his mask, the king runs after the two of them who escape in a car.

The animation is outstanding for 1922 and the numerous extra touches to the short are fun. Other interesting parts include the odd sculptures in the garden when the king chases the boy; the fact that the cat and the dog are also "in love"; and that the spedometer of the car shows them going up to 125 miles per hour.

Information from:


Puss in Boots was never touched again by Walt Disney.

He has appeared in a 1999 made for DVD animation:

Of course the character was also introduced into the Shrek world in 2004.

Dreamworks' desire to lampoon the fairy tales has resulted in them claiming an actual fairy tale character as their own (Puss in Boots) and giving him his own movie (scheduled for 2011).

Due to the popularity of the character, Puss in Boots has become a DreamWorks character (similar to how Cinderella, Aladdin, and others have become Disney characters).

Interesting note, Ub Iwerks, Disney's right hand animator, left Disney to go do his own thing (Flip the Frog and ComiColor Cartoons). (Ub later came back to Disney and worked on technical aspects of the Disney animated films.)


The ComiColor cartoons ran from 1933 to 1936 and were mostly fairy tales.

Ub did three stories that Walt already tackled in the Laugh-o-gram series:

1. Jack and the Beanstalk, November 30, 1933
2. Puss in Boots, May 17, 1934
3. The Bremen town Musicians, March 6, 1935
4. The Three Bears, August 30, 1935

Most of the Ub stories were used by Disney at some point:

1. Jack and the Beanstalk, November 30, 1933
(Mickey and the Beanstalk: Fun & Fancy Free, September 27, 1947)

2. The Little Red Hen, February 16, 1934
(The Wise Little Hen: a Silly Symphony, June 9, 1934)

3. The Brave Tin Soldier, April 7, 1934
(Piano Concerto No. 2: Fantasia 2000, December 17, 1999)

4. Puss in Boots, May 17, 1934
(Puss in Boots: Laugh-o-gram, November 3, 1922)

5. The Queen of Hearts, June 25, 1934
(Alice in Wonderland, July 26, 1951)

6. Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, August 10, 1934
(Aladdin, November 25, 1992)

7. The Headless Horseman, October 1, 1934
(The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, October 5, 1949)

8. The Valiant Tailor, October 29, 1934
(Brave Little Tailor: Mickey Mouse, September 29, 1938)

9. Don Quixote, November 26, 1934
(Disney Movie planned but canceled in 2000)

10. Jack Frost, December 24, 1934
(Nope; just Disney's Santa Clause 3)

11. Little Black Sambo, February 6, 1935

12. The Bremen town Musicians, March 6, 1935
(The Four Musicians of Bremen: Laugh-o-gram, August 1, 1922)

13. Old Mother Hubbard, April 3, 1935

14. Mary's Little Lamb, May 1, 1935
(Mother Goose Goes Hollywood: Silly Symphony, December 23, 1938)

15. Summertime, June 15, 1935

16. Sinbad the Sailor, July 30, 1935
(Nope, but there was a DreamWorks Sinbad animated film in 2003)

17. The Three Bears, August 30, 1935
(Goldie Locks and the Three Bears: Laugh-o-gram, October 5, 1922)

18. Balloon Land, September 30, 1935

19. Simple Simon, November 15, 1935
(Mother Goose Goes Hollywood: Silly Symphony, December 23, 1938)

20. Humpty Dumpty, December 30, 1935
(Mother Goose Goes Hollywood: Silly Symphony, December 23, 1938)

21. Ali Baba, January 30, 1936
(Aladdin and the King of Thieves, August 13, 1996)
(Also a 1940 Porky Pig cartoon)

22. Tom Thumb, March 30, 1936
(The Adventures Of Tom Thumb And Thumbelina: Miramax, August 6, 2002)

23. Dick Whittington's Cat, May 30, 1936

24. Little Boy Blue, July 30, 1936

25. Happy Days, September 30, 1936


In total, Disney released 6 Laugh-o-gram fairy tales:

Little Red Riding Hood
The Four Musicians of Bremen
Jack and the Beanstalk
Goldie Locks and the Three Bears
Puss in Boots

Adequate information cannot be found on Jack and the Beanstalk and Goldie Locks. So this is the last Laugh-o-gram to be discussed in this series.

Disney also completed Tommy Tucker's Tooth, on December 6, 1922.

The Laugh-o-Gram series had proved to be popular, but, unfortunately, financially unsuccessful. The company had been forced to find other outside projects in order to pay an ever growing stack of debts. (One of these was a dental hygiene film, "Tommy Tucker's Tooth.") However, Disney was already looking ahead to newer ideas in animation.

The Fleischer brothers had already achieved some moderate success with their "Out of the Inkwell" series in which a cartoon character would jump into and interact with the real world. Disney envisioned a series where a live actor would be put into a cartoon world. He enlisted a young actress, Virginia Davis (who had previously appeared in a few of the Film Ad shorts) and began working on "Alice's Wonderland."

More information:

Famously, Disney took his money from Tommy Tucker's Tooth, began production on Alice's Wonderland, and left for Hollywood.

Together with his brother, Disney pooled in money to set up his first Hollywood cartoon studio in his uncle's garage.[3] Disney sent an unfinished print to New York distributor Margaret Winkler, who promptly wrote back to him. She was keen on a distribution deal with Disney for more live-action/animated shorts based upon Alice's Wonderland.


This ends the first Walt Disney series of three that he did before hitting it big with Mickey. Like all his series, Laugh-o-gram fairy tales were well liked, and Disney slowly grew his studio in the 20s, but it wasn't until 1928, 6 years later, that Disney had his first big hit (by pioneering sound in animation), Steamboat Willie.


No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?

Popular Posts (of all time)