The Country Cousin (1936, Wilfred Jackson)
A Disney Silly Symphony. Country mouse loves all the expensive food in the city, but isn’t fond of cats, cars or roller-skaters so he hauls ass back to the country. Includes an extended drunky joke. It beat a Popeye cartoon and an MGM jazz short of racial caricatures.
The Milky Way (1940, Rudolf Ising)
Finally someone other than Disney takes the prize. Disney wasn’t even nominated – competition included the first Bugs vs. Elmer short and the first Tom & Jerry cartoon.
The Cat Concerto (1946, Hanna & Barbera)
Won the oscar despite allegations that the story was ripped off from W-B’s Rhapsody Rabbit, beating a George Pal puppetoon about John Henry, a Woody Woodpecker musical, and early appearances by Chip ‘n Dale and Foghorn Leghorn.
For Scent-imental Reasons (1949, Chuck Jones)
“Ahhh, le belle femme skunk fatale!”
The greatest sexual predator in the cartoons makes his fifth appearance. This beat a piece John Hubley made for UPA which I’d like to see.
Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950, Robert Cannon)
Gerald makes noises, is shunned, finds his place and everyone learns a valuable lesson. Beat out a Mr. Magoo cartoon (also from UPA) and one of my favorite Tom & Jerrys.
Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom (1953, Ward Kimball)
Full-on Disney animation plus outlines and photographs. I’ve seen part of this on those Disney Sing-Along Songs tapes that Trevor played on repeat for two years. The history of musical instruments in ten minutes. Possibly my favorite of all the oscar shorts so far, though I’ll bet it’s not widely played because of the racial stereotypes on display.
The first CinemaScope cartoon, originally released to accompany Fantasia – should be a required classic. Tough competition: Chuck Jones, UPA, Donald Duck and Ted Parmelee’s awesome The Tell-Tale Heart.
When Magoo Flew (1954, Pete Burness)
Ridiculous picture (and not always in a good way) complete with weird self-referential ending and a crabby complaint about television. Maybe Tashlin was hiding under a desk somewhere. Not a big Magoo fan, don’t know how this beat a Tom & Jerry mouseketeer short, tweety bird, Disney and Tex Avery. Dig the Ted Parmelee reference in the screenshot.
Speedy Gonzales (1955, Friz Freling)
This one doesn’t have the line I remember about wanting to get the cheese but being too lazy, but it does have the line “he’s a friend of my sister” / “Speedy is friend of everybody’s seester!” Another no-longer-politically-correct classic. Surprisingly beat the Hanna/Barbera holiday classic Good Will To Men and an acclaimed Tex Avery piece.