Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Walt's Windows - Ub Iwerks at the Walt Disney Studio

When reading Leslie Iwerks and John Kenworthy’ s The Hand Behind the Mouse: An Intimate Biography of the Man Walt Disney Called “The Greatest Animator in the World” numerous animated short films are mentioned that many are not familiar with.  I found that it was helpful and enriched my reading experience to reference these short films, with many of them available for viewing online.

The following are shorts films that Ub Iwerks contributed to during his time as an animator at Disney. 

Trolley Trouble released in 1927 was the first Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Cartoon released and the second one produced.  Critics applauded this short, though Walt Disney and producer Charles Mintz were unhappy with the first offering’s jerkiness.  Being perfectionists Iwerks and Disney changes processes to improve future offerings. 

Steamboat Willie was the first released Mickey Mouse cartoon in 1928, though the third produced.  It is also the first cartoon with synchronized sound.  Though we generally think of Mickey Mouse as a nice guy, the animals in this short would likely not agree.  

Skeleton Dance released in 1929 was the first of the Silly Symphony series combined music and animation.  The animation by Iwerks showed off his skill and believed by some to be too scary.  And it lacked mice!  However, Disney believed in the short and released it to a press screening which showed the success of this new series.  Skeleton Dance is generally seen as the pinnacle of Iwerks’ career. 

These are just highlights from Iwerks’ first tour with Walt Disney Productions and many more can be found online.   

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