Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cartoon a Day: Alice's Wild West Show

Alice's Wild West Show
Directed by Walt Disney
Available on: Walt Disney Treasures - Disney Rarities

The Alice comedies are the often talked about but rarely seen first big series of shorts created by Walt Disney. They are silent films that combine live action with animation. They are interesting to look at, not just from the standpoint of animation history, but of film history in general.

"Alice's Wild West Show" seems much like a silent Our Gang film as it begins, not just because it's live action, but the look and feel is much like that of Hal Roach's famous rascals. Alice and her pals are putting on a wild west show somewhere in a back alley and a rag tag group of neighborhood kids have gathered for the show. Things are going fine until the local bully and his gang show up and all of Alice's cast runs away in fear. She is forced to continue the show on her own, telling stories of her wild west adventures which are portrayed through animation.

The animation is not very smooth, but remember this is 1924. There are some hints of the greatness that was to come, but most of what makes the Alice shorts fun is the character of Alice herself as she interacts with the toons.

Though we've seen real people in cartoons many times since, the novelty of this effect is still interesting in a film that's 84 years old. Plus, you get to see an art form being born, that's just plain cool.

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