Andrea/Duck Dodgers here. I friendly welcome every fan of animation at my blog. The goal is to support the love and rediscovery of Classic Theatrical Cartoons from the Golden Age of Animation, keeping meanwhile an eye on Golden Age "Funny Animals" Comics as well as on modern animated productions! Every SUPPRESSED ethnic caricature to be sometimes presented here is just for HISTORICAL and EDUCATIONAL purpose and NOT to offend anyone. Stay Tooned and Enjoy the place !

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Worm Turns

"The Worm Turns" is a Mickey Mouse cartoon from 1937 that fascinated me for a long time. It's a curious anomaly among Disney shorts, a cartoon that somehow looks and feels unlike any other Disney work from that period. The story of this cartoon is divided into the four distinct episodes, and it's built around the rather offbeat idea: Mickey as the "Mad Scientist" trying to create the courage potion.

"The Worm Turns" is considerably more violent than the average Disney cartoon. Also it's beautifully animated, but in the style that seems quite experimental and unusual for Disney. Many scenes in this cartoon are amazing to watch and study in the slow motion or frame-by-frame, because of the rather extreme distortions, rarely used at that time. This animation style has lot more in common with the early 40s Warner or MGM cartoons than the mid-'30s Disney.

Another very distinctive characteristic of this cartoon is the use of dramatic and advanced cinematic devices: tight and claustrophobic close-ups, simulated camera movement, wide-angle shots, the great use of space and a playful attitude towards proportion and relative size of the characters. These elements were featured in the earliest Frank Tashlin's WB cartoons released in the second half of 1936. However, the possible influence of Tashlin is probably out of question, since the work on "The Worm Turns" started already in June, 1936 or even few months earlier.
Several surviving pages from the original animator draft can be seen HERE . According to these documents, the main animators on this cartoon were: Ham Luske, Chuck Couch, Bernie Wolf, Al Eugster and Woolie Reitherman.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This cartoon and "Pluto's Judgement Day" are my all-time favorite Disney shorts,period. Perhaps a post on that cartoon? Just a suggestion. Anyways, great stuff. I love the distortions. Who directed this one?

12:24 pm

Blogger Duck Dodgers said...

It's a Ben Sharpsteen cartoon.
He directed many of my favorite Disney cartoons, like "Mickeys' Service Station", "Moose Hunters, "Clock Cleaners", "Mickey's Trailer" and "Polar Trappers".
He also directed, chapeau, "Dumbo".

6:29 pm

Blogger Kevin W. Martinez said...

Altohugh I was one the world's youngest Disney cartoon conisseurs in my Youth, I very seldom got the chance to see this cartoon in toto during my childhood, so I never made much of the dark tone (The highwire scene in Mickey's Circus was a disturbing as I perceived Disney cartoons as being).

I need to get tat first Color
Mcikey tin.

9:59 pm

Blogger classicparamountcartoons said...

This is a classic indeed. Who could forget Mickey's line, "Now for a test...."?

This is avaible without the opening credits intact on The Sprit of Mickey VHS tape that Disney relased in 1998.

2:45 pm

Blogger J. J. Hunsecker said...

Excellent and perceptive post, Duck Dodgers!

I agree completely with your assessment of the animation in this one short. I was surprised when I first view this cartoon at how cartoony and exaggerated it was. (LIke yourself, this is not something I usually associate with Disney.) Plus the storyline is pretty weird. It's as if Bob Clampett got to direct a Fleischer story at Disney.

On a side note, does anyone else find it strange that there's a more realistic mouse in the cartoon side by side with Mickey (who for all purposes is actually a human in an abstract mouse suit)?

5:14 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you get single screen shots of a cartoon? I tried to use the PrtSc button on my keyboard when a dvd was playing, but the image just turned out blank.

1:10 am

Blogger Duck Dodgers said...

Hi J. J.,
the post is not mine but our Hammerson's and, as usual, it is a great one.

I agree with you about the realistic mouse and Mickey in the same cartoon.
I even find more funny a few daily strips by Gottfredson in which Minnie is scared by a mouse!

7:06 am

Blogger J. J. Hunsecker said...

>>Hi J. J.,
the post is not mine but our Hammerson's and, as usual, it is a great one.<<

Sorry, my mistake. Kudos to Hammerson, then!

6:39 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a very instructive post. I never watched this Mickey Mouse short before but i could see the plotline is look much differnt than Disney uses. That's reminds me sometimes the MGM cartoon "Bottles".

2:06 am

Blogger Hammerson said...

Many thanks for the comments, everybody! Here are the few quick answers:

anonymous said...
>> This cartoon and "Pluto's Judgement Day" are my all-time favorite Disney shorts,period. Perhaps a post on that cartoon? <<

Yes, there will be a post on "Pluto's Judgement Day", and also "Mickey's Garden" (another rather unusual and distinctive Mickey cartoon).

Kevin w. martinez said...
>>I need to get tat first Color
Mcikey tin. <<

You'll have to hunt it on eBay. The last time I checked, there were few auctions for vol.1 with affordable prices.

j.j. hunsecker said...
>> It's as if Bob Clampett got to direct a Fleischer story at Disney. <<

Yeah, it's almost like an unique combination of all three. That crazy last gag alone certainly belongs more in the Clampett cartoon, than the Disney one.

anonymous said...
>> How do you get single screen shots of a cartoon? <<

You won't be able to get the screenshots with PrtScr. I'm using PowerDVD software, and it has the option for saving the screenshots.

6:50 am

Blogger Andrew said...

Great analysis!

I reviewed you at Stumbleupon. You have a great site.

3:21 pm

Blogger Michael J. Ruocco said...

Great cartoon! One of my favorites!

Even though Disney was long past the rubber hose age by this point, a lot of these mid- late 30's Disney cartoons are very rubbery, squishy & stretchy. All the characters move as if they were made of taffy. Pete himself moves like a big hairy water balloon. But that's what makes the cartoon great!(particularly screenshots 11, 13, 24-26, 52 & 56).

I'm sorry, but pics 52 & 56 are totally rude when taken out of context.

1:20 am

Blogger Michael J. Ruocco said...

Sorry, I meant screenshot 66, not 56.

2:57 am

Blogger High Power Rocketry said...

: )

5:45 pm

Blogger Thad said...

Great cartoon! I'm told some of these Ham Luske scenes that are really cartoony during this period are really Ward Kimball's work, since he was his main assistant at that time.

11:10 pm

Blogger Animated AF said...

Hey, I recognize that black and red spider early on in this short! It made a cameo as a boss in the Mega Drive game World of Illusion! Here:

8:44 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice that a non-anthromorphic cat is in the same cartoon as Pete?(who was orginally an anthromorphic cat)

12:44 pm

Blogger Duck Dodgers said...

you should also notice that a non anthropomorfic mouse is in this Mickey cartoon....

4:52 pm


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