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Little Red Riding Hood

A Laugh-o-Gram Cartoon

Release Date : July 29, 1922

Running Time : 6:12

Synopsis

The traditional story of the little girl bringing treats to her grandma (in this case donuts with shotgun-created holes) with the "wolf" as a dapper gentleman in a flivver and her rescuer a passing aviator.

Credits

Director
Walt Disney
Animation
Rudolph Ising

Source

Based on the story "Little Red Cap"

DVD

United States
Disney's Laugh-O-Grams
The Legendary Laugh-O-Gram Fairy Tales

Blu-Ray

Beauty and the Beast : 3 Disc Blue Ray + DVD Combo Pack

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Silent
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by The Laugh-O-Gram Company

Comments

  • Also released with a soundtrack by Sound Film Distributing Corp. (New York) and Wardour Films (England) under the title "Grandma Steps Out."

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : After the success of the Newman Laugh-O-Grams, Walt Disney signed a contract for six fairy tale cartoons. The first film Walt produced under this deal was Little Red Riding Hood, although it was not for release, according to the Legendary Laugh-O-Grams DVD. According to this version of the story, Walt animated it with friend Rudy Ising as an exercise to get ready for the task of completing these cartoons. However, other animation historians list the film with a release date of July 29, 1922, making it the first of the fairy tales to be released.

That alone is an evidence of the man’s attention to quality over quantity. Although the cartoon of Little Red Riding Hood is extremely simplistic, by the standards of 1922, it is good enough. But as you’ll see throughout his work, good enough was never the right thing for Walt. He made compromises here and there to get the product out, but it would be the extra work that Disney cartoons had in them that made his product so successful.

The beginning of Little Red Riding Hood is a bit surreal, as it offers no hint of what relation this animation has to the beloved fairy tale. In the early portion of the film, a mother is making donuts by throwing pastry into the air, while her cat shoots a hole through the pastry, and then landing the whole mess in a frying pan. This goes on for several seconds, but what makes it surreal is the old bearded man in the corner of the room that is leaning through in a picture frame.

I’m not sure what that guy is doing there, if he is Red’s father or what, but frankly, it’s a little weird. We get a few quick shots of the old guy laughing, and it’s still weird. Is he a picture, or is it a window? I’m not sure, and I probably should not obsess about this sort of thing, but it’s just a very strange addition to an otherwise straightforward cartoon.

After a while, the cat eats one of the donuts, then dies, and his nine lives fly out of him as a counter in the bottom right of the screen keeps track. The mother gives the donuts to Little Red Riding Hood, presumably to take to Grandma. Red gets her car out of the garage bearing her name, and we see that it is powered by a dog that is being drawn forward with sausages dangled on a stick behind the car. A strange contraption, but hey, if it works, it probably saved Red a lot on gas.

She has a flat tire and blows up one of the donuts to fix it, which, based on the cat, is probably better than eating it. Then the “Wolf” shows up. The Wolf in this film is really a dirty old man, who shows up in a car headed the other way. He makes some overtures to Red, and then they part ways. The camera follows the Wolf instead of Red, and we see him get to Grandma’s house first.

Grandma left a note that she has gone out to the movies, and the Wolf takes the opportunity to sneak inside. We all know this story, right? Red arrives and heads inside, and we see the house shake and cries of “Help!” emanating from the house. Red’s trusty dog runs away to seek help, and finds a conveniently located man with an airplane. Always nice to have one of those laying about. The dog loads up on the plane, and the man flies over the house with a dangling hook, that drags the house off the top of Red and the Wolf, and the Wolf scampers away in his car. Red gets the hook the second pass over and is pulled up into the plane, where she kisses her rescuer. As we fade out, two hearts dance into the screen and a caption reads “And they lived happily ever after???”

So, it’s a familiar story, although somewhat more realistic and gritty here. Some people who have watched it think the Wolf is raping Red, but I think the intent is probably more simplistic. Simply menacing her is probably the intent, but who knows. The idea of having the Wolf be a man, though, is a bit creepy, although not as creepy as the old man in the picture frame.

The artistry here is good, but not spectacular. Just from the look, it does seem as though Walt had a heavy hand in the production of this film. The look compared to the Laugh-O-Gram slides is very similar, with sparse backgrounds and clean lines.

The main thing you notice is the storytelling. Most cartoons in the 1920s were about a collection of gags more than anything else. This cartoon starts that way, with the donut gag, but from that point forward, it is more or less a linear story. There are some gags along the way, but it is interesting that Walt chose to move towards storytelling rather than out and out gags.

All in all, it’s an absurd and funny film, and I recommend you check it out. Next up is the Four Musicians of Bremen, another of the Laugh-O-Gram fairy tales.


From Matt : They showed this short to us conventioneers at The Official Disneyana Convention (I haove n tape now). It was very funny and well animated for a 21 year old in 1921.
From J. D. Weil : This was Disney's first Laugh-o-Gram short and reportedly Walt Disney animated this cartoon single-handedly.
From Jeremy Fassler : This short was drawn single handedly by Walt himself, yes, J.D. is correct. The opening is quite stupid, as it is the same thing over and over, a woman shooting doughnuts to make holes. Then a cat eats the doughnut and dies (HA HA!) The wolf in turn, rapes (gasp!) Red Riding Hood instead of trying to eat her. Then some dude comes with a plane, hooks the wolfs car to a hook, and dunks him in the river (this was done in the 007 film "You Only Live Twice.")

It's interesting to see this film, but it's not The Skeleton Dance or The Three Little Pigs.


From Jerry Edwards : I enjoyed the scene of Little Red Riding Hood's car being pushed by her dog with som sausages on a stick to inspire him. I enjoyed the scene of Little Red Riding Hood blowing up one of the doughnuts to replace a flat tire. The "wolf" in this cartoon is a human - not a real wolf. I liked the scene of the man reducing the car to pocket size and putting it in his pocket. My copy does not show any "rape" scene - just the house with "help, help" - which I imagined to just be the "wolf" chasing her. I enjoyed the scene of the dog racing off to find help and joining the pilot who returns to rescue her. I enjoyed the scene of the dog hiding his eyes as Little Red Riding Hood and her rescuer kissed at the end.

I prefer to rate this short based on its time in Disney history. No, it's not The Skeleton Dance or The Three Little Pigs but those shorts were later after several animation advances. I feel this short is a quality short for its time.


From Rich Drezen : I was intrigued to finally see this picture and I must say it's quite primitive but effectively entertaining. The animation is crude and repetitive although the gag with the cat dropping dead and his 9 lives exiting from him really made me laugh. It's interesting to see how Walt went on to build an empire after producing this as well as several other Laugh-O-Grams, and luckily he was able to hire such incredibly talented animators such as Woolie Reitherman, Ward Kimball, Les Clark, Ollie Johnston, Ub Iwerks, Marc Davis, Frank Thomas, Ward Kimball, Freddie Moore, etc. If only Walt's animation could be compared to theirs! But you've gotta do what you gotta do to get by for a while.
From Christian : The animation may have been extremely crude for this cartoon, and it also may have been hard to follow along with, but overall, it's still a great start for the Disney shorts that this site is devoted to. It's a shame, though, that these cartoons are hard to find.
From Ray Pointer : The posting regarding Disney's first fully animated cartoon, Little Red Riding Hood contains two factual errors. First of all, Walt Disney did not animate this entirely alone. Rudy Ising worked on it with Walt, as supported by his comments in the Mike Barrier interview, exerpts of which are heard on the DVD, "The Legendary Laugh-o-Grams Fairy Tales." Second, this initial cartoon was not distributed. The second effort, The Four Musicians of Bremen was the actual pilot for the series, as this signaled Disney's first real use of cels and painted backgrounds. These facts are to be found in "Walt in Wonderland" by J.B. Kaufman and Russell Merritt.

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