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The Mechanical Cow

An Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Cartoon

Release Date : October 3, 1927

Running Time : 6:04

Synopsis

Oswald sets up a milk stand with a robot cow, who gives milk like a gas pump.

Characters

Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit

Credits

Director
Walt Disney
Animation
Ub Iwerks
Rollin "Ham" Hamilton
Hugh Harman
Les Clark
Friz Freleng
Ben Clopton
Norm Blackburn
Paul Smith

Video

United States
Animation Volume 1
Animation : The Beginnings
Disney's Beginnings (1920-1927)

DVD

Disney's Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Germany
Disney Treasures : Wave 7 : The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: 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 : It’s hard to say what has made the first three Oswalds so much better than the waning days of the Alice shorts. It seems, though, that having the freedom of doing the shorts completely in animation helped the animators to be more fluid and free in their work.

The Mechanical Cow is a great example of this. The story revolves around Oswald and his amazing mechanical cow. I know, truth in titles, who knew? Oswald has some trouble waking up the cow, but is soon out the door, offering milk to the masses. He provides a gallon to a baby hippo first, then is approached by his sweetheart.

He provides her with milk in a bucket, then sneaks off with her to a nearby wooded area, trying to snuggle up for a kiss. But, the cow, feeling left out, interrupts, prompting Oswald to banish him.

While he’s distracted, though, a group of what look like bears come and steal his girl, bringing on the first major chase sequence of the Oswald shorts. Oswald manages to get his cow back, and rides the cow in pursuit. The bad guys fire at him with their guns, and Oswald manages to pull the cow’s neck off, bend it in a “U” shape and force the bullets back at them. They fire a cannon, and the cow explodes, then falls right back into place, piece by piece. It’s a great gag filled sequence.

Oswald’s use of the mechanical cow is a highlight of the short. He cranks the cow’s tail to extend it’s neck to the bad guys’ car, runs up the neck and grabs his girl, then turns the cow around and heads the other way.

The end comes when the cow runs into a cliff, stopping shortly before going over, throwing Oswald and his girl off the cliff. They manage to grab a branch to hang on, but the bad guys are not so lucky. They sail off the cliff and are devoured by sharks below, sending a spout of water up that Oswald and his lady can ride up to the top. They hop on the cow and ride off into the sunset together.

What’s very interesting through the first three Oswalds is how little is recycled from the Alices. Sure, there are gags here and there, and some of the characters have a similar design, but the plotlines are fairly new, and the animation is very new. The side scrolling movement is still the core of the shorts, but there is more change of perspective in these three shorts than in all of the Alices. It shows the animators were learning more and working hard to burst out as the dominant animation studio of the time. At least that’s what I take away from it.


From Jesus Daprice : Overall this short was great, but one just has to wonder. How in the world did a robot cow figure out that Oswald and his girlfriend were in trouble? It's like it had a mind of its own.
From Ryan : This short is definitely a silent classic. Oswald has a robot cow (wonder why he didn't just use a real one) that pours milk like a gas tank. Then we've got his girlfriend skipping down the road (in a similar way to Minnie Mouse). Gangsters come by and kidnap Oswald's girlfriend. As most of you know, gangsters were quite common when this short came out in the Roaring 20's. The gangsters finally get what's coming to them by being gobbled up by a group of sharks as soon as they fall into the ocean.

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