Poster

Figaro and Cleo

A Figaro Cartoon

Release Date : October 15, 1943

Running Time : 8:23

Synopsis

Figaro tries various methods of trying to get Cleo, the fish, for his supper.

Characters

Figaro
Cleo

Credits

Director
Jack Kinney

Cut Scenes

Most scenes featuring a stereotypical black maid have been cut out.

Video

Germany
Figaro und Cleo
Donald Total Verliebt
France
Disney Festival
Italy
Gli Aristogatti
Paperino Pippo Pluto e …

Laserdiscs

Japan
Disney Cartoon Festival 7

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : The Complete Pluto Volume 2

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 6: All Figaro All the Time

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 : Figaro and Cleo were minor characters in Pinocchio, Disney’s second feature film. They served as comic relief to the serious and dark moments and a counter to Geppetto and Pinocchio’s struggles. Neither character was particularly developed, nor were they very memorable overall.

Therefore it was very odd to me to see them return in their own short, during the wartime era. 1943 had seen all sorts of strange productions, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. In the midst of Victory Through Air Power, Reason and Emotion or some of the war shorts, to see what basically amounts to a cute animal short is somewhat odd.

To shake that feeling is not easy, so watching this short after seeing the others I mentioned just felt very dissonant. That’s not the only thing that was odd about this short, though. As I mentioned, these characters were first seen in Pinocchio, but here, rather than appearing in a less developed part of Germany several hundred years ago, they appear in a modern household with a “Mammy” character.

You can see where this might be a bit off. The story of the short does not help. A song helps to set up the plot, which is that Figaro wants to eat Cleo, but refuses to do so because it would be wrong. Simple enough, but then Figaro proceeds to try and eat Cleo throughout the rest of the short.

Figaro’s actions are completely counter to the song, even if he does seem somewhat reluctant about the role he’s adopted. Even then, after originally declining to eat Cleo, Figaro spends the next few minutes attacking the maid’s broom and then batting around a ball of yarn. While it’s definitely cute animal stuff, and the animation portrays a cat’s movements very well, it doesn’t add anything to the short.

After Figaro’s yarn debacle, he gets into repeated attacks on Cleo, none of which are successful or well planned. The climax of the short comes when Figaro dives head first into the fishbowl, nearly drowns and subsequently decides to change his ways. It just doesn’t really track with his behavior throughout the short.

It seems Disney wanted to create new cartoon stars with this short, but didn’t really have a plan for how to do so. There is no consistent story in Figaro and Cleo, and not even a consistent character for Figaro. Cleo is barely in the short, not offering a worthy foil to Figaro. Since I don’t see a lot of these two around today, I’ll go out on a limb and say that Figaro and Cleo were not very successful characters for Disney.


From David Willis : Another Disney short recently shown on British TV (not the Disney Channel UK) and this had the scenes you mention as being cut. Either they have been reinstated or whether the British regulations are different I do not know but they were there. I loved this short and I felt that the maid added a lot to the short so I do not know which scenes could have cut.
From Christy : I give it a 10, too cute. Unfortunately I've only seen the part with the song. It's on a Sing Along video.
From Kristen : This is such a great short. I give it a 10 out of 10 rating. Unfortunately, I too, have it on Sing Along, and therefore have only seen the song clip. It is by far the cutest thing I have ever seen. (no exaggeration!)
From Fuzzball's Best Friend : It's only the best and sweetest film ever created! I showed it to my friends and they all loved it too - it rules!
From Ryan : This is the debut of Figaro and Cleo in the Disney shorts. What is interesting about this cartoon is that the maid bears a resemblance to Mammy Two Shoes from the Tom and Jerry cartoons. She could very well have inspired her. As with most Disney cartoon shorts, the animation and backgrounds are beautiful.
From Baruch Weiss : In this short (somewhat similar to a Chuck Jones cartoon called 'Finn 'n' Catty') Figaro tries several methods to catch Cleo. Like a few other people who sent in their comments I have also seen this on the Disney sing along video. However, there is YouTube and the Walt Disney Treasures DVD The Complete Pluto which is where I saw the cartoon 100% intact. I loved it all and I think Walt Disney and the rest of the staff at the studio made the right decision by bringing back Figaro from time to time in his own series just like Chip and Dale.
From Billy Joe : This wonderful short is somewhat a "Tom and Jerry" clone. It even has an owner that resembles the black maid (nicknamed Mammy Two-Shoes) from the "Tom and Jerry" series. This short begins the "Figaro" series which also includes Bath Day and Figaro and Frankie. The series was obviously spun-off from Walt Disney's "Pinocchio."
From Matthew Cooper : Until I looked it up on Youtube, I too had only seen the song part of this short on the Sing Along video. Anyway, this cartoon was very cute and also very funny. I liked when Figaro put the bobber on his tail and dipped it into the fish-bowl to try and catch Cleo. However, I think it wouldn't work cutting any of the scenes with the black maid because she had such a crucial role in this short. Therefore, this is one of those cartoons which has such an important stereotype in it, Disney censoring it out would ruin the cartoon, so they should just not show it at all!

This short was nicely done, and well entertaining. It's recommended, so it gets a 9 out of 10.


Referenced Comments