After a long hard day of going all over Disneyland my wife and I happened
to go into this building right at the entrance. We noticed the old cartoons
that were playing on a screen and started to watch.
We had no idea of what we were seeing exactly except that it was a Mickey
Mouse and Donald Duck cartoon in some kind of big hassle with Black Pete
(Pegleg Pete), and they were having an even bigger hassle with a buzz saw
which was after everybody.
My God, you have no idea how hard we were laughing watching this spectacle.
I laughed so hard my whole body hurt. My belly hurt, my back hurt, and I
got a headache from laughing, with tears pouring down my face. It was simply
the funniest cartoon I've ever seen and nothing else even comes close.
I've been wanting to buy it ever since and just tonight I finally found
it in a two-disk DVD collection from 2002, which I'm going to have to pay
dearly for, but I don't care. That's one bad thing about the Disney corp.
-- they put something out for a short time and then they simply quit producing
it. You either buy it early, or pay through the nose to get it later.
But hooray for The Dognapper -- it is in a class by itself!!
What makes it so great? It’s all the things I listed above. First of all, it’s full of great action. The short opens with a shot of a newspaper outlining the plot: Pete has dognapped Fifi from Minnie, and the police are hot on his trail. That’s all the set up you need, as Pete goes zooming by policemen Mickey and Donald, and the chase is on.
This short jumps right into things, and it’s the better for it. And pairing Mickey with Donald is a bit of inspired genius. The contrast between them – Mickey the dashing hero and Donald the coward – is classic, and continues to this day. As they chase Pete all around the countryside, there are great gags, like Pete knocking out the bridge and Mickey and Donald stretching their motorcycle and sidecar to ride the rails.
They finally corner Pete in a sawmill, by driving up a log and crashing through the side. We get the classic silhouette of the characters in the hole they leave behind, which is another fun gag. The sawmill sets up all kinds of opportunities for fun as well.
Throughout the sawmill, Mickey and Donald chase Pete, but they constantly get in each other’s way. One will have a gun trained on Pete only to have the other crash into him and ruin it. They get trapped in a ladder while Pete chases them, which makes for more great visuals.
The final scenes feature some great work, as Pete turns a saw on too high, and it breaks loose and chases the three of them around the building. This is high energy, frenetic animation at its best, as good as anything produced at Warner Bros. The action never stops, as the saw blade goes from Pete to Mickey to Donald without pause.
Finally, Mickey and Donald are able to corral Pete, when his peg leg gets trapped on the saw blade, and they throw a corset over him. It’s a funny way to end this short, which is funny throughout, but deals with a “serious” subject.
The Dognapper may be my favorite short so far. Yes, it’s that good. I am a huge Donald Duck fan, so it doesn’t hurt that he is in this one. But the tone, the action and the style of this short remind me of later buddy shorts like
Lonesome Ghosts, which is also one of my favorites. You’ve got to see this one, as I think it’s one of the lost treasures of the Disney shorts.
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