|Three Orphan Kittens|
A screenshot of the film's title card
|Directed by||David Hand|
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Story by||Bill Cottrell|
|Music by||Frank Churchill|
|Animation by|| Ken Anderson |
|Layouts by||Ken Anderson|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|October 26, 1935 (US)|
Three Orphan Kittens is a 1935 animated short film in the Silly Symphonies series produced by Walt Disney Productions. It was the winner of the 1935 Oscar for Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons).It was followed in 1936 by a sequel, More Kittens .
The film tells the story of three kittens (one black, one orange and one grey) and their adventures in a house. It begins with the kittens left out in the snow. They then notice the house nearby and enter it for shelter. They arrive at its kitchen, and begin to play there after the house's African-American housekeeper has finished preparing a meal. After more playing in various areas of the house, the film switches its focus to one particular kitten, the black one, who is chasing a feather and eventually ends up on a pianola keyboard. The kitten starts to play with the feather walking down the piano keyboard and the feather lands on the 'on' switch with the kitten presses and the then-revealed pianola begins to play; ironically it is playing a variation of "Kitten on the Keys", a song composed by Zez Confrey in 1921. The other two kittens rejoin the first and play around the pianola. When the pianola finishes its song, the kittens leave it and are caught by the housekeeper. As she prepares to throw them out, she is stopped by a little girl (possibly version of Nancy), who decides to adopt the kittens.
The film was produced as an entry in Disney's Silly Symphonies series. At the time, the Symphonies were being used as a vehicle to test the techniques which would be used in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and to provide an informal on-the-job training program to prepare artists for the elaborate scenes that would be included in the studio's feature-length productions.As such, the films were intended to focus on the characters, which were intended to be cute, rather than a particularly developed narrative. It was directed by David Hand, who would later direct Snow White, and animated by Ken Anderson. Like all Silly Symphonies made after 1932, it was produced in three-strip Technicolor. The film was copyrighted on November 20, 1935, nearly a month after its release.
The film was originally released theatrically in the United States on October 26, 1935.In 1937, it was re-released as part of the Academy Award Review of Walt Disney Cartoons, along with four other Academy Award-winning Disney shorts.
In 1993, it appeared in a compilation videocassette of Award-winning Disney shorts entitled How the Best Was Won.It has also been found on VHS tapes of Dumbo , along with Father Noah's Ark and The Practical Pig. Most recently, it was released to DVD in 2006 as part of the Walt Disney Treasures compilation, More Silly Symphonies .
The original version of Three Orphan Kittens contains a scene in which the black kitten encounters a doll that, when flipped by the kitten, becomes a stereotypical African-American girl, which shouts "Mammy!" (a recycled voice clip from Santa's Workshop). In the 1950s and 1960s, when Disney began editing their cartoons before they were broadcast on television, the scene was removed from the film.The film appeared uncensored, first on the VHS release of Dumbo , then on 2006 DVD More Silly Symphonies , where it was placed in a section entitled "From the Vault" along with other cartoons featuring stereotypes, which was prefaced with an introduction by Leonard Maltin.
The Film Daily (Oct 31, 1935): "Looks as if Walt Disney has hit on something as entrancing as his three little pigs in these three kittens... The three cute kittens will prove a wow — especially in that sequence where they go to bat with the automatic playing piano and come off second best. That piece of business is a laugh riot."
National Exhibitor (Nov 20, 1935): "The three kittens come in out of the snow storm, upset household, exploring in the kitchen and parlor, spilling pies, smashing furniture. Excellent color and appealing characterizations of kittens mark this. Excellent."
Boxoffice (Dec 7, 1935): "Walt Disney's latest Silly Symphony promises to attract the popularity of his Three Little Pigs, certainly one of finest cartoon subjects ever produced. The kittens of the title role are just as cute as the little porkies of the previous short, while their adventures are so delightfully amusing that the patrons will exit from the theatre singing its praises... [The player-piano] proves to be the picture's high spot and will keep audiences in a riot of laughter. Color work is again excellent, short is ideal for youngsters, perfect for adults, and will fit into any bill, any time, any where."
The Silly Symphony Sunday comic strip ran a three-month-long adaptation of Three Orphan Kittens called "Three Little Kittens" from July 28 to October 20, 1935.
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Flip the Frog is an animated cartoon character created by American animator Ub Iwerks. He starred in a series of cartoons produced by Celebrity Pictures and distributed through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1930 to 1933. The series had many recurring characters besides Flip; including Flip's dog, the mule Orace, and a dizzy neighborhood spinster.
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Color Rhapsody was a series of usually one-shot animated cartoon shorts produced by Charles Mintz for Columbia Pictures. They were launched in 1934, following the phenomenal success of Walt Disney's Technicolor Silly Symphonies. Because of Disney's exclusive rights to the full three strip Technicolor process, Color Rhapsody were produced in the older two-tone Technicolor process until 1935, when Disney's exclusive contract expired.
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Academy Award Review of Walt Disney Cartoons is a Walt Disney animated film released in the United States on May 19, 1937, for a limited time to help promote the upcoming release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was a collection of five Oscar-winning Silly Symphonies shorts, bridged together with title cards and a narrator. Like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, each of the cartoons had been released on their own at first before being collected together as one film. The separate cartoon shorts are now available on DVD.
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George Vernon Stallings was an American animation director and writer. He started working for Bray Productions in 1916 where he directed the Colonel Heeza Liar series of shorts, and the Krazy Kat shorts. He invented "the glass disk in the centre of the drawing board" in the 20s what later became known as the animation desk. He then worked for Van Beuren Studios from 1931 through 1934.
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Silly Symphony, initially titled Silly Symphonies, is a weekly Disney comic strip that debuted on January 10, 1932 as a topper for the Mickey Mouse strip's Sunday page. The strip featured adaptations of Walt Disney's popular short film series, Silly Symphony, which released 75 cartoons from 1929 to 1939, as well as other cartoons and animated films. The comic strip outlived its parent series by six years, ending on October 7, 1945.
J.B. Kaufman is a film historian and author who specializes in Disney animation history and silent films. His books include The Fairest One of All, Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic, and Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse. He is the consulting historian for The Walt Disney Family Museum, and has also written for the Library of Congress and Cartoon Research. Kaufman is currently working with Margaret Barnes on a biography of the latter's grandfather Clarence Nash, the original voice of Donald Duck.