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Mother Goose Goes Hollywood

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : December 23, 1938

Synopsis

From the opening scene where Mother Goose takes the place of the MGM lion, it's a trip through her famous rhymes with Hollywood stars taking the place of the storybook characters.

Characters

Donald Duck

Credits

Director
Wilfred Jackson
Animation
Izzy Klein
Bob Stokes
Ward Kimball
Grim Natwick
Jack Campbell
Don Patterson
Story
George Stallings
Thorton ("T") Hee
Dick Rickard
Leo Ellis
Peter O'Crotty
Ed Penner
Webb Smith
Izzy Klein
Music
Edward Plumb
Inpiration Art
Ferdinand Horvath
Voices
The Blackbirds
Dave Weber
Clarence "Ducky" Nash
Thelma Boardman
Ann Lee
Sara Berner
Al Bernie

Awards

Nominated for an Academy Award (Short Subjects - Cartoons.) The award went to "Ferdinand the Bull."

Cut Scenes

A number of black stereotypes and blackface gags have been cut from this short.

Video

Germany
Verrückte Musikanten
France
Silly Symphonies Volume 1

Laserdiscs

Japan
More Silly Symphonies

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : More Silly Symphonies

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 58: Silly Symphonies Go To the Birds
Donald's Quack Attack: Episode 52
The Mickey Mouse Club : February 11, 1958

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8

Page 9

Page 10

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 RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.

Comments

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : We’ve come to the last of the 1938 shorts, and just like the previous two, it’s quite unique. In Mother Goose Goes Hollywood, Disney takes a crack at melding nursery rhymes and Hollywood parody. Celebs like Katherine Hepburn and W.C. Fields are featured as nursery rhyme characters. The results are definitely interesting.

This short is similar in structure to another Silly Symphony, Mother Goose Melodies, with a touch of Old King Cole thrown in. The short opens with a book opening, revealing the characters within, who come to life and act out the tales they are known for. The twist, of course, is that in this short, the characters are all well known actors.

The running gag through the short is Katherine Hepburn as Little Bo Peep, searching for her sheep. In the way that only Katherine Hepburn can, she keeps repeating that she has lost her sheep and can’t find them anywhere. Not only does she open the short, but she closed it as well, and runs through a few others stories as well.

The vignettes with each different fairy tale or nursery rhyme are very brief, lasting less than a minute in most cases. That is a good thing in this case, because the gags are mostly about the fact that the stars of the short have taken the place of your favorite characters. Other than the visual gags like that, there’s not a great deal of other comedy.

This short, I imagine, was a big hit in 1938. It parodies the biggest and brightest stars of the era, and delivers some good laughs. Even though I didn’t know everyone, it was still entertaining to see W.C. Fields take on Charlie McCarthy or Laurel and Hardy acting as the Simple Simon piemen.

The ending, though, when the entirety of the cast gets together for a dance, was interesting, but not all that funny. It’s really a swing dance, held together loosely by the idea that these are all well known nursery rhyme characters. There are some blackface characters, including another depiction of Stepin Fetchit, but it’s all done in fun, not to offend.

This short is quite a departure for Disney, especially from the recent work in 1938. There were celebrity caricatures before, such as in Mickey’s Polo Team, but since then, things had become much more focused on “timeless” tales about the core characters. Mother Goose Goes Hollywood is an interesting diversion from that, and is more intriguing for its difference than for its entertainment value.


From Mac : Like Ferdinand, this is another Disney short that's generally regarded as one of the all time best, but is far from one of my personal favorites. I'm not keen on plotless cartoons where the main draw is 'look at all these caricatures'. In some ways I prefer the earlier, simpler Mother Goose Melodies!

I still very much enjoy this cartoon (and can understand why other people cite it as a favorite) – it's great to look at and as far as 'celebrity' cartoons go, this is one of the best. Often in celebrity cartoons, the humans look rather ugly, but this is not the case here. Some of Disney's top talent is behind the animation and all the character designs look great. In fact I think we've seen an improvement since Snow White.


From Jerry Edwards : I enjoy all the fun scenes in this short, especially those with Katherine Hepburn, but most of the fun scenes are censored on the Disney Channel due to the overwhelmingly numerous racial caricatures. What most tickles me about this short is the disclaimer at the start of the cartoon - "Any resemblance of characters herein portrayed to persons living or dead, is purely coincidental." YEAH... RIGHT!!!
From Ryan : This is one of my favorite Silly Symphonies. I love all the animation and background art as well as the portrayals of nursery rhyme characters by famous Hollywood stars of the time. One segment I particularly enjoy is the scene with W.C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty who is heckled by puppet Charlie McCarthy.
From Larry T : This is my all-time favorite Disney short. The Hollywood celebrities all worked into the Mother Goose nursery rhyme roles was a clever idea! Although the PC police have got to this cartoon, I feel the caricatures were all done in a fun sense and also in celebration of the personages' talents. Best joke: The M-G-M Lion parody.
From Ross : This is a Silly Symphony that I consider to be a spectacular masterpiece. Mother Goose Goes Hollywood features Hollywood movie stars from the 30's who are caricatured in this spoof of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. First, in the opening shot, we see Mother Goose portrayed as the lion from MGM. Then we see great caricatures of famous stars of long ago. First, we see Katherine Hepburn as Little Bo Peep. Next, is Hugh Herbert as Old King Cole, and the three Marx brothers, Groucho, Chico, and Harpo as the Fiddler's Three. We also see Ned Sparks as the jester, Joe Penner, who brings the bowl and says his catchphrase, "you wanna buy a duck?" and Donald Duck himself who pops out of the pot. Next, Charles Laughton, Spencer Tracey and Freddie Bartholomew as the three men in a tub, and who should pass by but Katherine Hepburn who's looking for her sheep, but there's water, water everywhere, an! d not a sheep in sight. The next scene makes me howl with laughter. It's W.C Fields as Humpty Dumpty being heckled by Charlie McCarthy. The next scene is just as wonderful. It's Stan Laurel as Simple Simon, and Oliver Hardy as the pieman. Laurel and Hardy performed wonderful slapstick comedy in their silent films. There's a great (but politically incorrect) scene when Hardy's going to hit the pie in Laurel's face, but Stan ducks, and the pie hits Katherine Hepburn turning her blackface. Next, Greta Garbo, in See Saw Margery Daw, wants to be alone. So, Eddie G. Robinson says, "O.K, babe, you asked for it." Next, is Eddie Cantor as Little Jack Horner singing "Sing A Song Of Sixpence," and who should pop out of the pie but Cab Calloway and his band along with Fats Waller and Stepin Fetchit, shouting, "Come on, Boy Blue, blow that horn!" And indeed, Wallace Beery, as Little Boy Blue blows his horn hot, turning blue in the face. Finally, is the scene at the end, when everyone is! swinging to the music. We see caricatures of Edna May Oliver, Mae West, Zazu Pitts, Clark Gable, and George Arliss. We see Laurel and Hardy again, a scene of Fats Waller playing the piano with the Marx brothers, Fred Astaire dancing with Stepin Fetchit, W.C Fields and Charlie McCarthy swinging it on the bass, and Cab Calloway hi-de-hoing some hot jazz singing. Charles Laughton even says a line from his film "Mutiny On The Bounty," and that is, "It's mutiny, but I love it!" The last scene makes me laugh, too. It's two caricatures of Martha Raye and Joe E. Brown who were best known for their big mouths. Martha kisses Joe, Joe screams, and the punchline at the end is another appearance by Katherine Hepburn who says, "I've lost my sheep. I can't find them anywhere. Rally I can't," and the cartoon ends. If you're a movie buff, like I am, watch this cartoon. It's beautifully animated, and the caricatures are great. It's my absolute favorite, and it's also a favorite of Leonard Maltin, famous film buff, too.
From Baruch Weiss : This seems quite odd for a Disney cartoon. Nevertheless, it's a great one. I loved all of it. Were those the Marx Brothers as the Fiddlers Three?
From Phil Soinski : The animation is spectacular of course, but the sound is one thing to notice immediately. The crystal clarity that the studio fine tuned is, also, part of the Disney legacy of their constant striving for improving always improving. The voices of Katharine Hepburn ( I had to make sure somebody spelled it correctly with an "A"-Kate was fussy about that!), Fields and Laughton are a particular stand-out. The set-up with Mr. Laurel & Hardy is also noteworthy as the boys always took their time in building a gag and it's quite obvious that Kimball and Davis were involved in structuring that scene and were fans. I think that is what is lacking in today's animation, alas, a love and knowledge of the theatre. You can see it again in the small gestures many of the characters make..a throw-away is what it is called in the trade, but subliminally there to capture the audience that their favorite star is really up there performing. That's the gem of those craftsmen/artist and it still works its magic! Great film and worth visiting again and again.

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