Playful Pluto

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : March 3, 1934

Running Time : 7:53

Synopsis

Pluto pesters Mickey as the mouse tries to do his housecleaning. When the hound swallows a flashlight and later sits on flypaper, you know there's going to be trouble.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Pluto

Credits

Director
Bert Gillett
Animation
Les Clark
Norm Ferguson
Dick Lundy
Art Babbitt
Johnny Cannon
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi

DVD

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2

Blu-Ray

United States
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs : 3 Disc Blue ray + DVD Combo Pack

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 37: Mickey's Pal Pluto
Donald's Quack Attack: Episode 36
The Mickey Mouse Club : October 25, 1955
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 3, 1956

Technical Specification

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

Released by United Artists Pictures

Comments

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Sticking with yesterday’s theme in Camping Out, the next Mickey Mouse short, Playful Pluto, is really a gag fest. But this takes it a step further, in that the short does not feature a real story, but instead runs from scene to scene using Pluto’s antics as the continuous thread. It’s a different way to do things, but an effective one.

Long time readers know that I prefer good, solid storytelling in my cartoons (and in any other medium). However, Playful Pluto is designed to show you snippets of a day in the life of our favorite cartoon dog. It’s more of a gag-filled pastoral than a plot driven action scene. That’s what makes it work so well.

The short opens with Mickey and Pluto out in the yard, raking the leaves. Since this is something I used to do in my yard with my dog, it was a great shot for me. Of course, Pluto has to jump in the leaves, and spread things all over, causing chaos.

From there we get a variety of scenarios. Mickey turns on a hose and Pluto attacks it. But he tears the hose and Mickey has to go to the basement to turn off the water. Pluto is holding a flashlight in the basement and swallows it. This causes him to run upstairs and burst through the screen door.

Pluto then ends up in a set of drawers, then is plagued by flies that come in through the hole on the screen door, before finally getting caught up in fly paper that Mickey put down to trap the flies.

As you can see, there’s no coherence or plot to the short, but it still works. It’s the kind of random, one after the next kind of thing you would expect from a dog. The title is really apt – Playful Pluto. This short is all about Pluto, and what he does day to day.

A tip of the hat to the animators on this short, because the key to this is selling Pluto’s emotions. Making a playful dog the lead character could have been difficult, since he is not pretending to be human or anything of the sort. But the animation conveys his frustration, anger or happiness with ease, making it easier for the viewer to connect to him.

I imagine that this short is what convinced Walt that Pluto had a viable road ahead as a solo cartoon star. Mickey is in the short, but he’s rarely the central character. Pluto carries the action.

The gags in this are well done, but not so uproarious that they are far fetched. Most of this is stuff you can imagine your dog doing. The flashlight gag is out there (Pluto swallows a flashlight then hiccups and his body illuminates), but the rest are pretty normal. A dog that jumps in leaves, runs through screen doors and does the rest of the stuff in this short is realistic, which makes it that much funnier.


From Mac : This isn't one of my favorites. There's some good stuff and it's a bit different, but I prefer the cartoons with a stronger idea, story or at least some catchy music. My favorite part is actually the bit where Pluto swallows the torch.

This is the one that features Norm Ferguson's famous flypaper sequence. This scene is remembered as a milestone in personality animation because Pluto's thoughts and reactions are so perfectly communicated to the audience. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston said that "it was the first time a[n animated] character seemed to be thinking on screen". After all the cartoons we've watched so far I don't think I quite agree with that, but I see what they're getting at and it is an excellent sequence.

In fact it was almost a little too good and the Disney animators tried to create similar scenes too many times for my liking. Too many Disney cartoons feature an extended "stuck scene" in which the rest of the plot stops while a character (usually Pluto or Donald) tries to get unstuck. They may get stuck in or to something or something would get stuck to them or in them, it happened a lot! This is the cartoon that started that trend.


From Andrea Larson : The funniest scene is when Pluto swallows the flashlight and it turns on. We then see an X-ray of Pluto's bones.
From Jerry Edwards : Enjoyable cartoon, mainly due to the gag sequence of Pluto trying to get unstuck from some flypaper. This sequence, devised by Webb Smith and animated by Norm Ferguson, is a masterpiece of animation and comic timing. The colorized version is also nice.
From Ryan : This was not one of my favorite shorts. I thought it was rather boring. However, I did like the part where Pluto swallows the flashlight and later an X-ray of Pluto's bones are shown.
From Frank : The flypaper sequence with Pluto has become especially famous, since it was successfully included in Preston Sturges' wonderful film classic "Sullivan's Travels" (1941). It was used, however, only after Charlie Chaplin had turned Sturges down. Thanks, Charlie!
From Christian : I've seen the colorized version someone mentioned, but with subtitles. Either way, black and white or color, this cartoon wasn't one of my favorites. I thought it was boring rather than interesting.
From Jen : This isn't my favorite Pluto short but it's still so cute! I love when he wrestles with the waterhose.
From Bill I. : This short along with all the "Pluto And Mickey" shorts all re-enforce the bond that Mickey and Pluto have. Here Pluto wants to play while Mickey tries to get some work done. From there it is one sight gag after another. The animation in this short is very good, especially when Mickey is chasing the twister, then gets tripped up on the rake. The scenes with Pluto swallowing the flashlight and getting all glued up with the flypaper also standout. The one scene I really enjoyed was when Mickey sprays Pluto with the water hose; this showing that Mickey still had the "edge"; he still had that playful and mischievous side to him and he could become a scamp when he needed to be. It's a shame that Walt let Mickey become so passive. A great short.

Referenced Comments