Confidence (1933)

Confidence (1933)
Article 5773 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-20-2020
Directed by William Nolan and Walter Lantz
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Animated allegory

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit wakes up one morning to discover that his chickens have all become too dispirited to lay eggs. He runs to visit the doctor, who points him the way of the one who can really help him.

If “Confidence” seems like an odd title to an animated cartoon, that’s because it is, but you’ll figure out soon enough that this cartoon is an allegory for the then-current situation rather than just entertainment. The fantastic content of this cartoon is the first hint; we see a spectral figure named “Depression” rising out of the swamps and flying throughout the world, with a noted stop at Oswald’s chicken coop. By the time it started to occur to me that the depression in question was economic rather than emotional, the cartoon was making other statements to clarify it; Oswald’s race to the doctor coincides with anthropomorphic animals demanding their money from the banks, and of course the doctor’s advice is to go to Washington and visit FDR, who appears as an animated figure, sings the title song, and allows Oswald to draw from a barrel of Confidence he keeps in the oval office. No, it’s not a great cartoon, but it’s more about hope in a bad time rather than laughter, and so many cartoons from this era feel unfocused that it’s a genuine novelty to find one with a clear purpose and message. Put this one in the category of “Of Historical Interest”.

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