The Pointer (1939)

Article 5347 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-16-2017
Directed by Clyde Geronimi
Featuring the voices of Walt Disney and Lee Millar
Country: USA
What it is: Pluto cartoon

Mickey Mouse takes Pluto out quail hunting in order to show him how to become a hunting dog.

I’ve been trying to set down some rules for deciding whether any specific animated cartoon truly deserves to be included in the realms of the fantastic; comic exaggeration never quite seems enough of a reason, and anthropomorphic animals have the air of being more a tradition of the form than of signifying true fantastic content. One rule I have devised is this: If an anthropomorphic animal in a cartoon could be replaced by a human character without adversely affecting the story, than the use of the animal is only marginal.

Take this cartoon for example. There are several animals in this cartoon, but only one is truly anthropomorphic, and that is Mickey Mouse; all other animals more or less act like real animals. Mickey could be easily replaced by a human character and the story would work just as well. Hence, I could conclude that the fantastic content in this one is pretty negligible.

On its own terms, the cartoon is a good but not great Disney offering. It’s strength is that Pluto is such a likable character that we care when he makes a mistake and is chewed out by Mickey. However, much of the cartoon uses an old comic gag in which Mickey is followed by a bear, but never turns around to see him and thinks he’s still out with Pluto. I’ve seen this type of gag many times, and though it’s all right here, it’s also been done better elsewhere. It’s Pluto’s (non-anthropomorphic) character that is the real draw here.


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