Alice herself makes a very brief appearance in this cartoon. Her contribution
is mostly waving her arms and stomping her feet. I feel that Disney at this
time already had given up on the integration of a human in a cartoon land.
And I really don't understand how Disney got away with a character so similar
to Felix the Cat. I cannot see any difference at all between Julius and
I wish more films from the silent area were broadcasted. I think this
cartoon still would be appreciated by more then the pure fans if it was
shown today on TV, I sure would.
I know that Walt has the reputation of always looking for originality and quality, and for the most part that is true. But it seems like he would not have a change of heart on Julius all of a sudden. Just my thought. You guys probably know better than me, but it seems weird.
I guess it's just sad that there is not a complete accounting of these films. Granted, it's not like they are just the best things ever, but for someone like me who is trying to see the evolution of Walt's filmmaking, it's hard when things are missing like this.
Even Disney is not much better, as many of the live action films are no longer commercially available. I am saving up now for some of the
eBay auctions I'll have to do for VHS copies of things like Tonka or A Light in the Forest.
It's just sad to me that regular Joes cannot see this material without going to extraordinary steps. I'm going to go forward with the ones that I can get, because the goal here is for the reader to be able to follow along with me, but if I get the chance to see any of the other Alice films, I'll definitely put up a post about them.
I evidently misremembered the restriction as applying to Disney only.
If you didn't mean for Eastman House to restrict the film this severely, perhaps you could contact them and say so. Right now it's evidently made it impossible for Eastman House or anyone to release it on video—a great shame, as I'd like to see it.
Surely, he wanted a new character, but the guy who went to Mintz in NY at the end of the first Oswald series was a different person than the one who created the Alice shorts. That Walt was more protective of his characters. I see the Mintz ripoff of Oswald as more of a nail in the coffin of the idealistic, struggling young guy than a turning point. Just my opinion, but I think the wheels were in motion before that day.
The story here is simple, there’s a fire and Alice and her fire fighters are called in to put it out. But that is what is so significant. Unlike some of the previous shorts, where we would spend 1-2 minutes in a dance party, 1-2 minutes in a chase sequence and attempt to bridge the gap between them with a shaky story foundation, the fire fighting is the story, and all the gags fall under that umbrella.
This is something that is very prevalent in the later Mickey Mouse shorts. Mickey and some companion, be it Pluto, Goofy or Donald or a combination of the three, are wrapped up in a task (window washing, ghost hunting, etc.) and the short involves the gags that each character gets wrapped up in.
Alice the Fire Fighter is the first time I have really seen that sort of storytelling used with the Alice shorts.
The short opens with the fire in a nearby hotel, and a mouse runs out to ring the bell. The Clang of the bell awakens a succession of Julius clones, who mobilize to the fire with Alice leading the way. Back at the hotel, there are some fun gags, like the dog piano player playing notes to let the rats run down them to safety.
One of the Julii (is that the correct plural of Julius?) can’t reach the dog in the top window, so one of his brethren pushes the hotel closer. Others try to rescue a black and white dog trapped on the top floor, who jumps towards a safety net, misses and bounces off the ground onto the net.
The final sequence involves a female cat stuck in the seemingly huge top room of the building. One of the Julius clones tries to climb the spout to rescue her, but falls down. He eventually gets the idea to use the fire engine, and climb on top of the cloud of smoke being put out and ride it to the top. Both he and the female cat escape, make it to the ground and fall into each other’s arms.
As I said, it’s simple, but it seems to be showing us a preview of the format of Mickey cartoons to come. I’ll be interested to see if this pattern picks up in the Oswalds, since there are so few Alices left to review. Is the pattern of a task providing the story umbrella something that continues? I’ll have to wait and see.
"The Filmmuseum supplies copies of film material from its own collection on video or film format. Both individual fragments and complete films are available.
Now I don't know if that means you could get hold of these titles from there or how much it would cost (it might be very expensive), but it could be worth emailing them to find out. The names of the foreign print sources can be found in the filmography section of "Walt in Wonderland" (I believe you have that book?). Don't worry if you don't speak Dutch, in my experience most people in Holland seem to speak very good English.
There are a couple of interesting things about Alice the Firefighter. One is the use of multiple Julius clones to create the fire brigade, bringing to mind the much later Goofy sport cartoons with whole teams of Goofies. The other is that towards the end, when the short focuses on one Julius (the official one) he is given a love interest to rescue – a female cat who looks just like him – rather than Alice herself.
This idea would be important to later Disney shorts in the Oswald series and of course with Mickey and Minnie. Giving Julius a cat love interest seems to have been introduced in 1925 with
Alice Plays Cupid (haven't seen this one and can't find a review on here). I'm not sure if it's the same character, but a love interest would appear again here in
Alice the Fire Fighter and in the two shorts that immediately follow: Alice Cuts the Ice
and Alice Helps the Romance, so it seems to be an idea Disney was interested in at this time. After this trio of cartoons it appears that for the most part the series featured the team of Alice and Julius again (although he would have a sweetheart in about three 1927 cartoons).
I've seen Alice's Circus Daze, Alice the Whaler, Alice Helps the Romance, and Alice in the Big League and know Alice's Spanish Guitar is out there too.
I know Tom Stathes has at least "Alice's Circus Daze" and Alice the Whaler. Alice Helps the Romance used to be on YouTube but it's gone now... I wish I had a VHS source for it, but I don't. Some other webpages online still have broken links to the old YouTube video.
AFAIK, Alice's Spanish Guitar was originally donated to George Eastman House under the condition that Disney never be allowed to use it (!). If this rule still stands, it makes it obvious why a DVD release would have been scotched.
The worst is that I might once have been able to do something about this... some ten years ago I was in touch with the donor before he donated the film, but didn't think to ask him about the conditions he was imposing.
I've never seen them, but the majority of them seem to exist in European film archives. I don't know if there are any video copies around. If anyone knows it would be Tom Stathes or Ramapith (who has posted on here) maybe you could ask them if they can help you obtain copies?
Alice's Spanish Guitar was supposed to see a release on DVD a few years as part of a DVD set from the National Film Preservation Foundation, but I don't think it ever happened.
BTW you'll see how right you are about this short being something like a preview for the Mickey cartoons when you come to The Fire Fighters (1930).
I am going to investigate the Netherlands option and see if I can get any of those. I'm broke, so I don't know if we can get a hold of them, but I'll try.
Click on thumbnail for full size image