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Alice's Wild West Show

An Alice Comedy

Release Date : May 1, 1924

Running Time : 12:42

Synopsis

Alice and her friends put on a Wild West Show for the neighborhood kids where she regales the audience with her tales of cowboys and Indians.

Characters

Alice and Julius

Credits

Director
Walt Disney
Animation
Walt Disney
Rollin "Ham" Hamilton
Live Action Actor
Virginia Davis
Tommy Hicks

DVD

United States
Disney's Alice Comedies : Volume 1
Disney Rarities: Celebrated Shorts, 1920s - 1960s

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: Combination live-action and standard animation
Sound Mix: Silent
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by M. J. Winkler Productions

Comments

  • Merritt and Kaufman in "Walt in Wonderland" incorrectly identify Leon Holmes as being in this short.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : I’m doing this on a shoestring budget, mostly cobbling things together from what I already have or can readily afford. So, I don’t have the ability to go out and purchase several DVDs for one or two Alice shorts, or even some of the other shorts that may be missing. In some cases, there are shorts that are completely gone. Therefore, I’ve decided that I’ll move forward with what I have and can get fairly easily, then try to view some of these other shorts/films later. I will likely do a separate series of posts on those films as I get them.

Today, though, that leaves us with my favorite Alice short to date – Alice’s Wild West Show. This has to be considered one of the most interesting of the Alice shorts, because of what it shows about the young director, Walt Disney. The animation and the live action pieces are quite entertaining, which is more than can be said about Alice’s Spooky Adventure.

The short opens with Alice taking tickets for her Wild West Show. She is costumed in her finest Western wear, with hat, holsters and all. She is trading tickets for trinkets from the neighborhood boys, which is quite amusing. There is an elaborate stage set up behind her, and before long the “orchestra” tunes up to start the show. This actually is a bunch of boys banging on pots and pans and playing one string guitars, but it’s quite cute. If you know much about Walt, you know he was a performer, and you could imagine him staging this kind of production in his own backyard.

The show begins with Alice meeting up with some criminals in a cowboy bar, which has such amusing signs as “No shoting aloud” and “Neer Beer.” This is just another way Walt packed this film, as there are signs with clever puns and wordplay all around. Alice shoots the criminals and the curtain is pulled for the second act.

In the intermission, Tubby O’Brien and his gang of thugs come in and steal the front row. They’re a rough looking bunch, and Alice’s cohorts take off, scared to finish the show. So, Alice improvises and begins telling the crowd about her exploits in the Wild West. That’s where the animation begins.

The first animated sequence has Alice, on a stagecoach, being chased by Indians. They are firing arrows at her, but she manages to fend them off by tossing suitcases off the back of the stagecoach, then finally facing them down inside a cave, where we can’t see the action. This was a common trick in Walt’s cartoons, as he used it in nearly all the Laugh-O-Grams.

That short bit cuts back to the live action, where the gang is booing Alice, so she begins another story. Back to animation, where Alice is in a bar, and Wild Bill “Hiccup” is trying to steal the safe. Again, another gag packed in, as the safe reads “Mfg. by the Unsafe Safe Co.” Eventually, Wild Bill escapes with the safe, but Alice and our friend the dog from the Laugh-O-Gram days chase him down.

The gang boos again, back in the live action world, and begins throwing rotted vegetables at Alice. She gives as good as she gets though, chasing them away and tackling Tubby himself to give him a thrashing. The short ends with Alice chasing him away and turning to the camera to grin, as we see her two front teeth missing.

This short is very funny, and features Virginia Davis’ best performance as Alice yet. Instead of just standing around flapping her arms, she uses her killer smile and her eyes to express emotions and thoughts. Is this Walt the director bringing this out of her? It’s tough to say, but the tone of this live action piece brings to mind the later live action Disney films.

The animation here is not any better than the other films, but Alice’s interaction is great. She throws a suitcase off the back of the stagecoach and hits an Indian, she shoots at Wild Bill, and she shakes hands with the dog. All of this seems much smoother than in the earlier shorts.

The question here is whether the consistency will remain. After all, Alice’s Day at Sea was beautifully animated, but then Alice’s Spooky Adventure was nowhere near as well done. We’ll see tomorrow, when we look at Alice’s Fishy Story.


From Ryan : This is one of those Alice shorts where part of it is animated and the other part is live action. In the live action segment, Alice and her friends put on a wild west show for the neighborhood kids. Soon, however, the tough kid in town and his gang stop by and take up seating space in the audience. In the animated segment, Alice is a gunslinger in the old west and enters a saloon with her dog friend. I enjoy the lighting effects where she is shooting at the people, despite how primitive it is. The lights go out while she is shooting at some of the bad guys and then come back on to reveal a bunch of people (many of whom are innocent) to be lying dead with blood splattered everywhere.
From Gijs Grob : Alice organizes a wild west show for the kids in the neighborhood. All goes well until the bully 'Tubby O'Brien' and his gang show up. Her fellow actors chicken out, so Alice has to improvise some stories about her experiences in the 'wild and woolly west'. Enter the cartoon sequence. In her first story she defeats some Indians, in the second one she's a sheriff in a saloon, smoking a cigar and attending a bad performance of 'Sweet Adeline'. Meanwhile, the villain, "Wild Bill Hiccup" tries to steal the safe. He and Alice end up in a gunfight in which every other person in the saloon is killed. She chases the villain by car, returning the safe in the end. The gang of bullies is not impressed and they pelt her with vegetables. But Alice chases them all out of her humble theatre, beating up Tubby O'Brien herself. The cartoon ends with her triumphant smile. None of the animation (probably all done by Walt Disney himself) is particularly interesting. Nevertheless, this short is very charming and entertaining.

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