Tag Archives: Bill Berg

Chicken in the Rough (1951, Jack Hannah)

Chicken in the Rough is constantly charming. It feels incomplete, but it’s still constantly charming.

Chip ‘n’ Dale are collecting nuts near a farm. On that farm, the rooster is waiting for a hen’s eggs to hatch. Anthropomorphizing roosters and hens is one heck of a thing, incidentally. Just the relationship and the implied expectant mother and father. So Dale, being an idiot, mistakes the soon-to-hatch eggs for walnuts and gets curious. Chip tries to correct him, but fails (and then disappears, another reason the cartoon feels incomplete); basically, it ends up with Dale pretending to be a chick to try to fool the rooster, who’s thrilled he’s a new daddy.

And the hen just assumes Dale is one of her chicks. Even after all the other chicks are born.

It’s a short cartoon, with Dale trying to get away from the rooster–who’s simultaneously wise to the chipmunk not being a chick and yet still hopeful he’s wrong and Dale is his newborn (it’s weird and cute). There’s a great sequence where Dale has to pretend to eat a bug. And Dale trying to convince the actual chick to stick around is excellent too.

Most of the action takes place inside the expecting hen’s hen house (separate from the other hens) and the animation’s good.

It’s too short and doesn’t have anything approaching an ending, but Chicken in the Rough’s many charms–particularly the voice acting (even the hen gets some “lines”)–make up for the cartoon’s foibles.

CREDITS

Directed by Jack Hannah; written by Nick George and Bill Berg; animated by Bob Carlson, Bill Justice, and Judge Whitaker; music by Joseph Dubin; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Dessie Flynn (Dale), James MacDonald (Chip), and Florence Gill (hen).


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Pluto’s Christmas Tree (1952, Jack Hannah)

Pluto’s Christmas Tree gets off to a somewhat rocky start; it turns out, the animators spend more time on one nut than they do on Mickey Mouse. Besides looking perpetually hung over, Mickey’s also very loosely drawn.

However, Tree soon picks up because Hannah’s direction is inspired and the animators excel on everything (except Mickey). Chip and Dale are hiding in Mickey and Pluto’s Christmas tree, annoying Pluto, but also giving the viewer a look at a Christmas tree from inside out.

Hannah creates, in six minutes or so, a truly lovely little Christmas cartoon. Besides the lovely tree interiors, there are a bunch of great gags for the chipmunks and Pluto.

Even the sappy ending works out well, maybe because Hannah ends Tree with a gag (and starts the sappy ending with one).

I remembered it immediately, once the tree interiors started; the visuals are incredibly striking, incredibly memorable.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jack Hannah; written by Bill Berg and Milt Schaffer; animated by Volus Jones, Bill Justice, George Kreisl and Fred Moore; music by Joseph Dubin; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Ruth Clifford (Minnie Mouse), Pinto Colvig (Pluto / Goofy), Dessie Flynn (Dale), James MacDonald (Mickey Mouse / Chip) and Clarence Nash (Donald Duck).


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Two Chips and a Miss (1952, Jack Hannah)

Two Chips and a Miss is a weak seven minutes. While some of the fault is Hannah’s direction, it’s mostly just his animators. They’re incredibly lazy when it comes to their figures. Hannah’s even lazier when it comes to filling out the cartoon.

Chip and Dale are both romancing a night club singer (a female chipmunk) and the night club is empty besides the three of them. Oh, wait, I forgot–there’s also an implied black waiter. It’s an odd, terrible touch.

The night club’s not supposed to be empty, however, and there’s background applause in the clearly empty club. Chips is just lazy.

I suppose the ending’s a little funny, with the female chipmunk’s closing gag–and wink–suggesting she just wanted to get the boys to make out.

Unfortunately, Hannah doesn’t embrace the humor in that ending, which is no surprise. Hannah rarely does anything right in Chips.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jack Hannah; written by Nick George and Bill Berg; animated by Volus Jones, Bill Justice and George Kreisl; music by Joseph Dubin; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Dessie Flynn (Dale) and James MacDonald (Chip).


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Sea Salts (1949, Jack Hannah)

Sea Salts opens with a framing device, which doesn’t make much sense from a story point of view. Well, wait, maybe the frame is to show the viewer Donald Duck (as a sea captain) is a likable greedy, selfish jerk, not a dangerous one.

The protagonist is actually a beetle, one of Donald’s crew from a ship. The beetle, voiced by a wonderful Dink Trout, tells the story of their association and “friendship.”

While the beetle’s a fine narrator, Sea Salts‘s real star is the animation. Hannah and his animators take the pair through a somewhat predictable shipwreck and stranding narrative but the visuals are so strong (and Trout so affable) Salts is enthralling.

The only time where the approach (the beetle as the protagonist, Donald as the subject) is a problem is at the end… Donald’s ornery captain character never develops.

Still, it’s a lovely, beautifully crafted cartoon.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jack Hannah; written by Bill Berg and Nick George; animated by Jack Boyd, Bob Carlson, Bill Justice and John Sibley; music by Oliver Wallace; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Clarence Nash (Donald Duck) and Dink Trout (‘Mac’ Bootle Beetle).


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