Disney parodies part II: Little Hiawatha.

Continuing on the theme from my previous post, here are more contemporary Disney parodies. In 1937 Disney released Little Hiawatha, loosely based upon the poem Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It seems to have been a pretty successful film; although Disney never made any further cartoons with the character, he did show up in Disney comics through the end of the 1950s and as late as 1955 was considered enough of a major Disney star to get a prominent place in the opening theme of the Mickey Mouse Club.

Where there is a successful Disney cartoon, there are also those more irreverent cartoonists ready to make fun of it. The theme of the bumbling and unsuccessful hunter is one of the most common in cartoons, so it’s not too hard to hard to see how that, along with this cartoons cloying sweetness, made this cartoon an easy target for the likes of Friz Freleng and Tex Avery.

Little Hiawatha (1937)

Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt (1941). This is only Bugs Bunny’s third cartoon, the first one to be directed by Friz Freleng, and the first one in which Bugs faces off against a foe other than Elmer Fudd. Freleng, who later created Bugs’ other adversary Yosemite Sam, was known to dislike the character of Elmer Fudd, so perhaps that is the reason why he decided to branch out on his first try.

Big Heel-Watha (1944). This is one of the films that perfectly showcases the style and humor of the great cartoonist Tex Avery. It’s loud, fast paced, raunchy and topical, all the elements that make Avery cartoons so great. Avery admired the artistry of Walt Disney’s cartoons and cited their more wild and wacky shorts as an influence, but he also greatly disliked the sappy sweetness of cartoons like Little Hiawatha. I think both those feelings come through in this cartoon.


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