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Alice's Egg Plant

An Alice Comedy

Release Date : May 17, 1925

Running Time : 8:34

Synopsis

Julius, the boss of Alice's chicken farm, has to find a way to deliver 5000 eggs to Sinkem and Soakem.

Characters

Alice and Julius
Little Red Henski

Credits

Director
Walt Disney
Animation
Ub Iwerks
Rollin "Ham" Hamilton
Thurston Harper
Camera
Mike Marcus
Live Action Actor
Dawn O'Day

Milestones

The first and only appearance of Dawn O'Day as Alice.

Video

United States
Animation Volume 2
Weird Cartoons #1
Alice in Cartoonland
Disney's Beginnings (1920-1927)

DVD

Alice in Cartoonland
Alice in Cartoonland
Disney's Alice Comedies : Volume 2
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

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : I have to say, although this is not the most entertaining and inventive of the Alice shorts, Alice’s Egg Plant may be one of the most illuminating as far as Walt’s state of mind might go. There are definite inferences that can be drawn about the way Walt is approaching things now, a full year into running a cartoon studio, versus the way things were portrayed in previous films.

What do I mean? Well, this short opens with our friend Julius the cat coming up on the egg farm, and seeing no hens in the laying house, trying to roust the hens from their dormitory to produce more eggs.

Julius spends the next few minutes of the film wandering the line, inspecting the eggs, cracking his tail as a whip, and generally harassing the hens. If you’ve been reading along, this is quite a departure from the previous mode of the Alice films. Think back to Alice and the Dog Catcher, where Alice skips out on piano lessons to go fishing, or Alice Gets in Dutch where the teacher is mercilessly mocked. All of a sudden, we’ve gone from mocking authority figures to turning the hero of the short into one. What’s changed?

Well, for starters, Walt Disney, rather than a young kid struggling to make his way in the world, is now a businessman, and one of the main proprietors of a studio. No longer is he the pal of the animators and just another of the boys, making films to avoid other jobs. He’s now the head man. That brings a whole new view into perspective.

But wait, it gets even more interesting. We see that Alice has an order for 5,000 eggs, and she calls her friend, Julius to fill the order. YES! Finally, Julius is named on screen! I’ve been waiting! Sorry, but it drove me nuts that everyone calls him Julius, but he had not been named in the actual shorts.

However, unbeknownst to Alice and Julius, a new hen has shown up. This new hen is from Moscow, and incites Alice’s hens to strike. Very interesting, right?

Here we are in 1925, years ahead of the cold war and the red scare, but in this cartoon, communism is the bad guy, and the capitalist trying to make a buck from the workers (the hens) is the hero. See any parallels with Walt trying to get his animators to work faster or harder? It’s possible.

Alice and Julius are distraught, not knowing how they will finish the order, until Alice sees two roosters fighting. An idea is sparked, and they set up a prize fight, with the price of admission being one egg. Soon, they have collected their 5,000 eggs, just in time to drive off into the sunset. Unfortunately, just as they drive off, the eggs splatter off the back as we fade to black.

I have to say, the sudden shift in tone from Alice and Julius being the anti-authoritarian trouble makers to the overlords of a factory is jarring. But you have to imagine that Walt himself was going through a similar conversion. It is interesting to note though, that almost twenty years later, Walt would experience a strike of his own, and would insist that it was spurred by communist agitators. Did that idea blossom here? All in all, I think Alice’s Egg Plant is an essential window into the Disney Studio of 1925.


From Ryan : Alice and Julius run an egg plant, but the chickens soon go on strike. I liked the Russian hen in the short who, for some reason, hid her suitcase under the railroad tracks. Alice runs across two roosters fighting and suddenly comes up with an idea. In order to fill the shipment of eggs, Alice charges the hens one egg in order to watch the two roosters settle it in the ring. Another gag that makes me laugh is where a pig comes over and wants to see the cockfight. He tells Julius to look the other way and quickly sneaks an egg out of the basket. Julius looks back and sees the pig getting up with an egg on the ground. Perhaps the funniest part of this short is where Alice and Julius have collected enough eggs to fill the shipment. They start the truck and the back, which carries all the eggs, falls off as the two drive away. Although I am not too interested in the silent works of Disney, I enjoy watching them both for entertainment and from a historical perspective.
From Mad Professor : This is one of my favorite Alice comedies. History buffs in particular will enjoy this one, as it spoofs the early "red scare" of the 1920s. A Communist rooster named "Little Red Henski" from Moscow comes to Alice's Egg Plant. He gets on his soapbox and agitates the hens to 'fight the power" by demanding "shorter hours and smaller eggs." Thus the fowls exercise "Poultry Power" by going on strike (and throwing eggs) against Alice and Julius. Disney was already developing as a social satirist in his early 20s.
From Gijs Grob : Alice (Dawn O'Day in her only appearance as Alice) and Julius have a chicken farm, but a Russian spy chicken named 'Little Red Henski' makes their chicken strike. Clever Alice then organizes a cock fight with one egg admission fee. The shots of Alice are minimized in this cartoon and contain no close ups. The animation, on the other hand, begins to look more flexible and lifelike. Add the clever and entertaining story with its many gags, and here's an Alice cartoon that still is entertaining today. Disney himself would face a frustrating strike in 1941, also led by an agitator from outside the company, Herbert K. Sorrell.