Cinema: Regulated Rodent

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Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America last week announced that, because of complaints of many censor boards, the famed udder of the cow in the Mickey Mouse cartoons was now banned. Cows in Mickey Mouse or other cartoon pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed other of Mickey Mouse's patrons. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting when the cow stood still; it also stretched, when seized, in an exaggerated way.

Already censors have dealt sternly with Mickey Mouse. He and his associates do not drink, smoke or caper suggestively. Once a Mickey Mouse cartoon was barred in Ohio because the cow read Elinor Glyn's Three Weeks. German censors ruled out another picture because "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose an army of mice is offensive to national dignity" (TIME, July 21). Canadian censors ruled against another brand of sound cartoon because a leering fish in it writhed up to a mermaid and slapped her on the thigh. But censorship is only a form of public testimony that Mickey Mouse and other animated cartoons are an important and permanent element of international amusement. Sergei Eisenstein, famed Russian director, has said: "They are America's most original contribution to culture. . . ."

Mickey Mouse Features are produced by the same solemn processes as other feature pictures except that artists and an art-process take the place of actors. First, in the Walt Disney studios in Hollywood a "gag" meeting is held, ideas talked over, roughly outlined. Scenario writers compose a regulation script; adapters break it down into sequences, scenes, shots. The scenic department designs the background. Then three kinds of artists begin to work: 1) "animators" who sit at two long rows of specially made desks and work by light that streams through a central glass. They develop the gags, draw only the beginning and the end of an action. Their sketches are passed to 2) the "in-betweeners" who draw the small delicately graded changes that make a motion kinetic. Then 3) the "inkers" place a transparent square of celluloid on the drawing and outline boldly in ink on the celluloid. Action is photographed by superimposing these transparent drawings over the painted backgrounds which have been placed under a camera.

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