Alice's Brown Derby
Studio: Disney Release Date : December 13, 1926 Series: Alice Comedy
  1. General Info

Cumulative rating: No Ratings Posted     

Synopsis

Another horse race with Julius riding a mechanical horse and Pete unsuccessfully trying to cheat to win.

Characters

Alice and Julius
Pete

Credits

Director

Walter Elias "Walt" Disney

Animator

Ub Iwerks
Rollin "Ham" Hamilton
Rudolph Ising
Hugh Harman

Camera

Rudolph Ising

Live Action Actor

Margie Gay

Video Information

Technical Specifications

Running time: 8:05
Animation Type: Combined Live-Action and Standard Animation
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Color Type: Black and White
Sound Type: Silent
Print Type: 35mm
Negative Type: 35mm
Cinematographic Format: Spherical
Original Language: English

Reviews and Comments

From Toadette :

This short is for the most part a rather typical Alice Comedy, with Julius in a horse race using a mechanical horse. The prototypical Pete is the main villain, though a mouse does the racing for him; Alice, of course, is mostly just here to cheer Julius on. There's some neat gags throughout the cartoon, but the ending is regrettably unsatisfying.

The film opens with animals entering the race track as a dog pitches his punch stand; a series of mildly amusing gags follow. First, a car driver honks at a slow bus overflowing with animals (likely going to the track), only for the bus to intentionally release exhaust, blackening the car driver (much to the bus driver's entertainment); the car proceeds to climb over the bus (and the animals) with its wheels, then vengefully releases exhaust in front of the bus driver. Next, a mouse uses a hose to squirt water over the track fence; the other mice use the stream of water to get in. Finally, there are three gags involving the track horses: first a horse, in an examination, has some of its stomach fat literally cut off with scissors (with no visible pain to the horse; on the contrary, it's quite pleased with its new figure!), then a horse is seen jump-roping, and finally a horse dreams of winning while its tail is being brushed, throwing up one of its lucky horseshoes (which lands on and knocks out the tail-brusher).

As the plot begins, Julius is greasing his mechanical horse as Alice watches; he then uses his tail as a crank to wind it up. The prototypical Pete, accompanied by his mouse friend on an actual horse, laughs the iron horse off, much to Alice's disgust (which triggers proto-Pete's own disgust).

A dog blows on his bugle, signalling the beginning of the race; the horses (including Julius's mechanical horse), lined up at the start, begin running in place, held back by ropes. As the gun is fired to cut the ropes holding the horses back, the mechanical horse just falls over rather than running; Julius winds it up again, this time by using the horse's own tail as a crank. The mechanical horse proceeds to outrun all the other horses; that's when the body collapses on the ground, though the bendy legs keep it going (looking like spider legs due to the misarrangement), so Julius lifts it back up without too much trouble.

Julius decides he wants the horse to go faster, so he detaches his tail and uses it as a whip; the body goes faster than the legs (staying in mid-air), much to his shock, so he walks back (in mid-air!) to the legs and starts whipping the back legs so that they go faster, while the front legs are twice kicked closer to the horse for good measure! When both pairs are close enough to the flying body, he throws up his tail so that it flutters back to his rear and slides the horse body back to the legs.

Then the back legs stop running, such that the horse becomes bumpy; rubbing the legs with his tail only works temporarily, so he extends his tail and coils it into a spring, and thus Julius sits on his springy tail (which sits on the bumpy horse) without having to do anything, posing for the audience!

The crowd (and Alice) cheers, but proto-Pete is angry; that's when he hatches up a scheme to redirect a portion of the track off a cliff as Julius and his horse arrive! Once they're off the cliff, Pete puts the track back where it should be, his mouse friend thus back in first.

Julius and his horse fall in a rather wavy manner; when they hit the ground (with Julius bouncing then squishing into a puddle), the horse has of course fallen apart. Julius, frustrated, kicks the collapsed creature, only for all the pieces to automatically reassemble! (Julius expresses his surprise just by having his eyes grow and shrink; it's not particularly effective, but it works.)

It's only then that Julius notices that he and his mechanical horse are at the top of another cliff; fanning himself out of fear or dizziness, he then finds himself in an argument with a large bird living in a cave behind him; the large bird swats Julius off the cliff with a broom, only for Julius to "swim" back up and run into the bird's cave. The two brawl (off-screen; stars and smoke and what looks like swarms of bees come out of the cave), and the bird flies off with no feathers!

Julius, having taken the bird's wings, attaches them to the horse, and on his horse he flies back up to the track; he's back in the race! (And his horse now has the power to literally glide in the air.)

Julius flies over proto-Pete's mouse racer, putting him back in first; however, the problem of parts detaching on their own comes back when the horse goes back on the ground, as the wings are still flying in mid-air...and they fly away, much to Julius's frustration!

The mouse racer catches up as Julius desperately tries to speed up by whipping the mechanical horse again, this time using the horse's tail as the whip! As they approach the finish line, Julius depserately keeps whipping and then runs in place, his horse still behind that of the mouse.

Ultimately, Julius resorts to a total cheat (payback for what proto-Pete did, I guess); pull a lever hidden in the horse to stretch his horse's neck, putting its head in front of the mouse's horse...thus, Julius wins by default. The prize? A derby/bowler hat for the horse. (Pretty lame, if you ask me.)

Overall, this Alice Comedy has a unique concept—Julius in a horse race using a mechanical horse, in contrast to the other racers using actual horses. (I'm surprised he wasn't disqualified on the spot.) The writers manage to squeeze some good gags out of the concept, though Alice herself has little to do other than cheer Julius on, while proto-Pete disappears entirely after he pulls off his scheme. And the ending just doesn't work for me at all, especially given the various unusual ways Julius had solved his previous problems; it feels like not Julius, but the writers cheated, and ultimately no one (not even the audience watching the cartoon) really wins (especially not with a measly prize like a derby hat).

See all comments by Toadette

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History

8/22/2014

  • Animation type added by eutychus
  • Sound type added by eutychus

3/7/2016

  • Comments added
  • Toadette

Sources

Walter Elias "Walt" Disney: Director
  • Verified by "Walt in Wonderland" by Russell Merritt and J. B. Kaufman

Ub Iwerks: Animator
  • Verified by "Walt in Wonderland" by Russell Merritt and J. B. Kaufman

Rollin "Ham" Hamilton: Animator
  • Verified by "Walt in Wonderland" by Russell Merritt and J. B. Kaufman

Rudolph Ising: Camera
  • Verified by "Walt in Wonderland" by Russell Merritt and J. B. Kaufman

Margie Gay: Live Action Actor
  • Verified by "Walt in Wonderland" by Russell Merritt and J. B. Kaufman

Rudolph Ising: Animator
  • Verified by "Walt in Wonderland" by Russell Merritt and J. B. Kaufman

Hugh Harman: Animator
  • Verified by "Walt in Wonderland" by Russell Merritt and J. B. Kaufman