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Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was invented by Walt Disney's team in 1926; was
stolen from him the following year by Charles Mintz; was stolen from
Mintz a couple of years later by Carl Laemmle and handed to Walter
Lantz -- according to legend, as the winnings in a poker game. Despite
this inauspicious start, Oswald was the most successful transfer from
silent to sound cartoons. Although much changed, mostly for the more
juvenile, the series lasted until 1936, outlasting the Columbia series
of Krazy Kat cartoons by a year.
A good deal of this can be attributed to the fact that for the first few years Lantz was definitely a better cartoon maker than Disney -- although he lacked Disney's genius for Hoopla. And this song short from 1930 shows a wry sense of humor throughout. Despite the fact that more than a minute of its six minutes' total consist of cheat shots -- repetitions of earlier sequences -- it holds the viewer's attention throughout and makes adults as well as children laugh.
For the historically minded, its also the second film with Tex Avery getting a credit -- as a animator, still listed as "Fred Avery".
Despite Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and his cartoons being popular and well
received at the time, they have been vastly overshadowed over time by
succeeding animation characters. It is a shame as, while not cartoon
masterpieces, they are fascinating for anybody wanting to see what very
old animation looked like.
Not all the Walter Lantz Oswald cartoons are good representations of Oswald or Lantz, a few for historical interest only. Some are good however. As far as Lantz Oswald cartoons go, 'The Fowl Ball' fares decently and is a pretty good cartoon, if not as good as the previous Oswald cartoon 'The Detective'. It is also notable for being Tex Avery's second Oswald cartoons.
The story is flimsy, then again when was it ever not (with a few exceptions). There are indeed some repetitive and crude cheat shots in the first minute or two which does cheapen the quality rather.
Sound quality, however, for a cartoon so old and techniques still in its early days is not as primitive as it could have been. Oswald is very endearing.
Music is as energetic as ever too. The animation is mostly quite good, once the cartoon settles. Oswald's movements, expressions and gestures are well done and the detail and smoothness is there. The gags are funny and imaginative and the pacing is mostly lively.
In summary, pretty good. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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