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Saturday Matinee

Disney Cartoon #49: "All Wet" (October 31, 1927) - published December 10, 2011

by Albert Gutierrez

This weekend at Saturday Matinee, I had intended on covering "The Karnival Kid," an early Mickey cartoon that had the distinction of featuring his first words spoken: "Hot dogs!" I had been talking about the cartoon with some friends a week earlier, as it's one of my favorites from Mickey's filmography. While we were discussing "Karnival Kid," I had my DVD of "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" playing in the background and I looked up during "All Wet" to see Oswald selling hot dogs just as Mickey did, and later on, punishing a hot dog for running away. It's not exactly the funniest gag in the cartoon, but reminded me of the opening shots in "Oh, What a Knight!" being reused in "Ye Olden Days." Since I had promised weeks ago to eventually cover an Oswald short, and had recently viewed the surviving shorts, I decided it would be better to cover the original Karnival Kid. This week we take a look at "All Wet," one of Oswald's earliest shorts.

The short opens with Oswald on the beach, manning a hot dog stand. He wards off two young cats who want hot dogs (what a strange way to do business), and eventually sells a hot dog to...a dog. The dog goes off to try and eat, but the hot dog runs off instead. Later on, we see Oswald still at his stand, and another hot dog tries to run off. Oswald catches him, pulls back his skin, and spanks him. Soon, Francine "Fanny" Cottontail slinks on by. Instantly smitten, Oswald closes his hot dog stand for the day and introduces himself. Sadly, she spurns his advances, and he walks away dejectedly. Oswald then notices Fanny admiring the nearby lifeguard, so he gets the idea to become a lifeguard as well. He pays off the lifeguard for his badge, and Oswald stands at the dock.

Fanny is excited at seeing Oswald as a lifeguard, especially as his chest seemingly expands into a broad muscular frame. A little cat runs up to Oswald, squirming and needing help. Oswald is at first impatient with him, then realizes what the little cat needs: directions to the nearest outhouse. Fanny wants Oswald to pay attention to her, so she rows out to sea, puts on a swimsuit, and jumps into the water, pretending that she needs saving. Oswald rows out to her immediately, as she treads in the water. While she's waiting patiently, a fish starts pulling her down, and she soon needs real rescuing. Oswald swims in after her, but the waves keep preventing them from reaching each other. Eventually, a large wave sends the pair back to the beach, where Fanny lies waterlogged. Oswald "rolls" her like a tube of toothpaste in order to squeeze the water out, and she gives him a kiss for saving her life.

Oswald is one of Walt Disney's greatest creations, and it's hard to believe that he's been out of the hands up until five years ago. He's very much the "big brother" to Mickey Mouse, and plenty of Mickey's traits were borrowed from what Walt had developed for Oswald. Walt's loss of Oswald to Charles Mintz eventually paved the way for Mickey's birth, but one can't help but wonder how Walt Disney Studios would have evolved if Oswald remained in the family. Would we see the Oswald Rabbit Club? Would the world be looking for Hidden Oswalds and wear iconic rabbit ears? Fortunately, Oswald's been back in the Disney family for five years now. Outside of his huge popularity in Japan, Oswald has still laid pretty low here in the States. His only major appearances have been in the Wii game "Epic Mickey" as well as the comic book prequel, "Tales of the Wasteland." In addition, there was a flurry of Oswald merchandise when he was re-acquired by Disney, including a DVD set in 2008 which featured his surviving shorts.

Up until recently, only fourteen complete or near-complete Oswald shorts were thought to exist. Thirteen of the shorts (and the one-minute surviving piece from "Sagebrush Sadie") were featured in the Walt Disney Treasures release "The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit," released in 2008. The fourteenth, "Poor Papa," was the pilot short for the series and was curiously excluded from the set despite Disney holding it in their archives. The DVD set is out of print now, but perhaps Disney will see it fit to re-release the shorts once again, especially given the news of another Oswald short being found. "Hungry Hoboes" was discovered in a Herefordshire film archive last month, where it will be auctioned at Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia. Here's hoping that Disney regains one of their original shorts, and that the company celebrate this new find by re-introducing Oswald once more to the public. Perhaps a theme park attraction or character meeting?


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