The Country Cousin (1936)
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Based on Aesop's fable "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse", there's nothing particularly memorable about this cartoon. The mice peak out of holes, scurry across tables, help themselves to food, agitating the house cat etc. It's fairly standard stuff, ending in the hick mouse being frightened out of town and dashing back to the country along the railroad tracks. It's amazing that this managed to win an Academy Award, I can't imagine how dull the other nominees were that year.
It's true, they've turned the actual storyline into a goofy succession of tabletop gags with a chaotic climax tacked on (much like the one to appear at the end of the Pink Elephants sequence in Dumbo), and so the short as a whole is somewhat less satisfying than it could be, but the individual sequences are all nice - I particularly liked the bit with the sliced bread, and the mirror routine straight out of Duck Soup. Monty just sort of disappears at the end, doesn't he? Oh well, so maybe it's not the most memorable thing ever, but it's still a polished piece of cartoonery, to be sure.
The story is from Aesop and has been done a bazillion times before by various cartoon studios--probably because they didn't have to pay royalties and because the story has already written itself! A bumpkin mouse from 'Podunk' comes to visit his supposedly sophisticated cousin in the city. At first, the bumpkin in impressed by all the marvels of big city life. However, by the end of the film he comes to realize that cities suck and he's better off being happy with his lot in life.
The animation quality is good but not exactly inspired or a thing of great beauty. When I think about several other Silly Symphony cartoons from Disney (such as THE FLOWERS AND THE TREES or FERDINAND THE BULL), it comes up very short. In other words, it's awfully ordinary yet took the Oscar. While I am not a huge fan of Popeye, I have seen POPEYE THE SAILOR MEETS SINBAD THE SAILOR (also nominated this same year) and it was significantly prettier and better animated--with finer line drawings and an amazing 3-D sort of look to it. The other nominee was OLD MILL POND by Harmon-Ising but I just can't bring myself to watch any more of these ultra-cutesy cartoons, though I can just about guarantee it was insipid and that THE COUNTRY COUSIN was better!
All in all, The Country Cousin is not an outstanding cartoon, but regardless it is still a nice watch. 7/10 Bethany Cox
Mouse Abner, THE COUNTRY COUSIN from Podunk, arrives in the big city to taste some of the high life enjoyed by his sophisticated cousin, Monty. Enjoying the viands of a banquet table - most especially the champagne - Abner is soon to encounter his first big city cat...
With the delightful Abner the center of attention, this fun, fast-paced cartoon spoof of Aesop's Fable easily became the 1936 Academy Award recipient.
The SILLY SYMPHONIES, which Walt Disney produced for a ten year period beginning in 1929, are among the most fascinating of all animated series. Unlike the Mickey Mouse cartoons in which action was paramount, with the Symphonies the action was made to fit the music. There was little plot in the early Symphonies, which featured lively inanimate objects and anthropomorphic plants & animals, all moving frantically to the soundtrack. Gradually, however, the Symphonies became the school where Walt's animators learned to work with color and began to experiment with plot, characterization & photographic special effects. The pages of Fable & Fairy Tale, Myth & Mother Goose were all mined to provide story lines and even Hollywood's musicals & celebrities were effectively spoofed. It was from this rich soil that Disney's feature-length animation was to spring. In 1939, with SNOW WHITE successfully behind him and PINOCCHIO & FANTASIA on the near horizon, Walt phased out the SILLY SYMPHONIES; they had run their course & served their purpose.