Lost Disney Short Found, Restored and Shown

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Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

Walt Dis­ney Ani­ma­tion Stu­dios debuted a newly restored dig­i­tal print of the once-thought-lost 1928 Oswald the Lucky Rab­bit ani­mated short “Hun­gry Hobos” at the Tel­luride Film Fes­ti­val on Sep­tem­ber 2. The film, which was found in a pri­vate film vault in Eng­land in 2011, was acquired by Dis­ney that same year and has under­gone exten­sive dig­i­tal restoration.

Hun­gry Hobos” re-debuted in Tel­luride, Col­orado as part of a spe­cial ani­ma­tion shorts pro­gram pre­sented by lead­ing film his­to­rian and restora­tion expert Serge Bromberg. Also on the pro­gram (“Serge Bromberg’s Retour De Flamme”) was a sneak peek at Disney’s newest ani­mated short “Paper­man,” which pre­miered at this year’s Annecy Inter­na­tional Ani­mated Film Fes­ti­val, gen­er­at­ing excite­ment in the indus­try for its inno­v­a­tive hybrid use of com­puter ani­ma­tion and hand-drawn techniques.

Hun­gry Hobos” was over­seen by Walt Dis­ney in 1928 as part of a dis­tri­b­u­tion deal with Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures. It was the 20th short film (out of 26 made by Dis­ney) star­ring Oswald the Lucky Rab­bit, a long-eared pre­cur­sor to the more famous Mickey Mouse (who appeared for the first time later that year in “Steam­boat Willie”). The film fol­lows the mis­ad­ven­tures of Oswald and his rough­neck pal, Putrid Pete, as they ride a freight car loaded with ani­mals and devise ways to cook a meal using the tools at hand. When a police­man chases them off the train, the duo poses as a hurdy-gurdy man and a mon­key as part of their escape.

We were so proud to be able to debut ‘Hun­gry Hobos’ at the pres­ti­gious Tel­luride Film Fes­ti­val, and to have the world renowned film preser­va­tion­ist Serge Bromberg present it to the pub­lic for the first time in over half a cen­tury,” said Bossert. “Aside from cre­at­ing inno­v­a­tive new state-of-the-art ani­mated fea­tures like ‘Tan­gled’ and the upcom­ing ‘Wreck-It Ralph,’ and shorts like ‘Paper­man,’ Walt Dis­ney Ani­ma­tion Stu­dios is ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing and restor­ing our film legacy and the art of ani­ma­tion. In restor­ing ‘Hun­gry Hobos,’ we were able to address such issues as warpage, dirt removal, bro­ken sprocket holes, light flicker and film weave. The end result is a highly enter­tain­ing and his­tor­i­cally impor­tant film that is part of our Dis­ney heritage.”

Bromberg added, “We are very grate­ful to Dis­ney for let­ting us debut this newly restored Oswald short in Tel­luride. The film has some won­der­ful gags, and pro­vides an excel­lent look at the early work of Walt Dis­ney before he cre­ated Mickey Mouse. We salute Disney’s efforts to pre­serve its cin­e­matic past, while mov­ing for­ward with such excit­ing new efforts as ‘Paperman.’”

The Walt Dis­ney Com­pany reclaimed its rights to Oswald the Lucky Rab­bit in Feb­ru­ary 2006, when Dis­ney CEO Bob Iger ini­ti­ated a trade with NBC Uni­ver­sal in exchange for send­ing sports­caster Al Michaels to NBC Sports. Oswald has since been fea­tured in Dis­ney Interactive’s video game “Dis­ney Epic Mickey” and the upcom­ing “Dis­ney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two,” sched­uled for release on Novem­ber 18.

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