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Mother Pluto

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : November 14, 1936

Running Time : 8:35

Synopsis

Pluto plays mother hen to a handful of chicks who have just hatched in his doghouse.

Characters

Pluto
Mother Chicken
Father Chicken

Credits

Director
Wilfred Jackson
Asst. Director
Lou Debney
Animation
Izzy Klein
Johnny Cannon
Bill Roberts
Archie Robin
Norm Ferguson
Marvin Woodward
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi
Nick George
Story
Earl Hurd
Music
Leigh Harline
Voices
Lee Millar
Florence Gill

Video

Germany
Pluto Präsentiert
Donald Total Verliebt
France
Disney Festival
Italy
Paperino Pippo Pluto e …

Laserdiscs

Japan
Disney Cartoon Festival 7

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Germany
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
France
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Italy
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Sweden
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
United Kingdom
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 33: In the Nursery with the Silly Symphonies
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 33
Donald's Quack Attack: Episode 52

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
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 : There is no way that this short should be classified as a Silly Symphony. Let’s make that clear from the beginning. This is the first of many Pluto shorts, and should be classified as such. I don’t know if Walt had to deliver a certain number of Silly Symphonies or what, but this is a straight up Pluto short, and don’t let the title card or anyone tell you differently.

With that out of the way, I can say that Mother Pluto is a good, not great example of a Pluto short. There is no dialogue or interaction with other humanized characters, simply Pluto, chicks, a hen and a rooster. This is a cute animal short, but it is done well enough that it doesn’t come off as trite or too cutesy.

The premise is that a hen lays her eggs in Pluto’s dog house, then heads out to do something. Pluto returns to the doghouse to find the eggs hatching all around him. Since Pluto is the first sight that the chicks see, they presume that he is their mother, much to Pluto’s dismay. At least initially.

The nice twist here is that Pluto warms up to the little chicks, and starts taking care of them, first in an encounter with a cricket, then with a caterpillar. It’s a novel idea, and a different side of Pluto. He’s usually the trouble maker, but here, Pluto is the hero, trying to keep trouble from happening.

Of course, when the hen discovers what has happened to her chicks, things take a turn for the worse. The hen runs to her husband, the rooster, who decides to give Pluto a piece of his mind. What really cracked me up was seeing the rooster do the typical bravado that we’ve seen in so many other shorts. You know the motion – hiking up the belly that then plunges onto the ground, then shoving his hair/plumage forward. Don’t know why, but seeing the rooster do it struck me as extremely funny.

What was also funny was seeing Pluto and the rooster go back and forth. Having the two of them mirror each other is a stroke of genius, because it makes the obvious mismatch seem plausible, as well as adding humor. Pluto acting like a chicken is hilarious, but seeing the rooster jump around and try to go nose to nose with Pluto is just as fun.

The ending is unexpected as well, because rather than the chicks returning to their “real” parents, they end up coming back to Pluto. The short fades to black with the chicks cuddled up to Pluto in his doghouse.

This is a short with a lot of heart, but not a ton of great gags. It’s part of a movement away from the gag based humor of earlier shorts and towards storytelling. Mother Pluto is not the best example of this, because some of the Mickey shorts and some others do a better job of mixing the two, but it’s a good Pluto short nonetheless. Just not a Silly Symphony.


From David Gerstein at Ramapith : Mother Pluto was to have been a "Mickey Mouse" cartoon until right before release. It became a Silly Symphony so that Don Donald (1937), an intended Silly Symphony, could become a "Mickey Mouse," thus keeping the predetermined number of Mickeys and Sillies on the release schedule.

Don Donald had been a Silly Symphony because it was originally conceived with one-off characters, who were only changed to Donald and Donna in development.


From Mac : A very likeable Pluto cartoon, released before Pluto had his own series, intended as Mickey Mouse, but ultimately released as a Silly Symphony! The look of this short gives away its intended series – the animation and backgrounds have the look of a Mickey Mouse short of this era, without the added detail, richness or special effects we'd associate with recent Silly Symphonies.

I remember the first time I saw this cartoon as a kid I was watching it with my friend who loved cartoons as much as me. We'd always say when a cartoon started if we'd seen it before or not and I lied and said that I had. Having read a reprint of the Mother Pluto comic strip adaptation, I was able to 'prove' I'd seen it before with a detailed account of events and characters... which then failed to show up in the animated version!


From Rod Bennett : One might guess that Walt had a contract to deliver seven Silly Symphonies this year and only came up with six. Otherwise, how did this pleasant but unremarkable little Pluto short get the prestigious "Symphony" title attached to it?
From Jerry Edwards : Although there is no way it should be called a Silly Symphony, I find this an enjoyable short. But I do find it rather unsatisfying because of the unresolved ending. The supposedly happy ending has the chicks appearing from under the straw in Pluto's dog house, but you know the hen and rooster are going to arrive soon to continue the fight. This short sticks in my memory for an entirely different reason. The Mickey Mouse Club showed a short titled Pluto and the Baby, which wasn't listed anywhere as a short. I wrote Disney about this and their "official" information was that it was a shortened version of Mother Pluto. But, of course, it wasn't. Later I found the original short - the 1934 Mickey Plays Papa. All scenes of Mickey were cut so that only scenes of Pluto and the baby were kept. Many scenes of the baby reacting to Pluto were originally the baby reacting to Mickey.
From Baruch Weiss : I don't know why this cartoon is a Silly Symphony cartoon rather then a Pluto cartoon, but that's what it appears to be. Anyway this was such a great cartoon, I'll bet it was funny to see Pluto being a "Mother" to a bunch of cute little chicks.
From Matthew Cooper : I never thought there would be a Disney short I hated until I saw this one! The reason I hate it is obvious (isn't it?) The ending was so unresolved! The mother hen never got her chicks back, and don't you think she was the only bad-guy here (she was partly one though for trying to solve the problem with violence,) but it was also Pluto! He would not give them back to her! Anyway, the reason I hate this short so much is not only because the ending was unresolved but because while I was watching it for the first time, I kept hoping it would end the way I've written below, so when it didn't, I was really shocked

1. The mother hen would start to see that Pluto was protecting her chicks in her absence and break up the fight between him and the rooster.

2. The camera would cut to a scene in Pluto's doghouse where the chicks are playing in Pluto's paws and he and the mother hen are smiling.

Boo on Disney for making such an unresolved cartoon! I didn't think they had it in them!


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