The Milky Way (1940)

Article 4760 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-15-2015
Directed by Rudolf Ising
Featuring the voice of Bernice Hansen
Country: USA
What it is: Animated whimsy

The three little kittens who lost their mittens are sent to their room without any milk. They decide to tie three balloons to a basket, which will lift them up to the Milky Way… and all the milk they want.

For some reason, this short won the Academy award for Best Animated Short of its year. Out of curiosity, I did a power search on IMDB looking for animated shorts from the year 1940 and sorted them by the user ratings, and not only is this short nowhere near the top (it came in 50th behind mostly a whole slew of Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons), it’s not even the highest rated MGM short from that year; that honor goes to PUSS GETS THE BOOT, a watershed cartoon that would eventually give way to the “Tom and Jerry” series. Granted, one-off cartoons are more likely to be overlooked nowadays, and those that emphasize whimsy over laughs (as this one does) have a further strike against them. Nevertheless, this is a likable little cartoon; I’m quite fond of cartoons that take place in surreal fantasy worlds, and there’s a lot of creativity to the way the Milky Way is portrayed here. It even managed to get one good laugh out of me; I love the way the planet Mars is portrayed. In short, this is a good cartoon, but I wouldn’t call it a great one.

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