Someone has uploaded this cartoon in its entirety, complete with the Leonard Matlin introduction from the Goofy box set, to YouTube. (Let’s get this out of the way now; that set is out of print and not cheap and contributing to my Patreon or Ko-fi would enable me to buy it at long last.) This actually turned out to be good for me, as Leonard gives us information that I didn’t know that ties this in with my strongest interest in Disney. Specifically, the background painter on this movie was Eyvind Earle, and his work here was considered so impressive that it’s what got him the job on Sleeping Beauty. If you know what you’re looking for, and looking at, it’s definitely obvious in several scenes even though the style is entirely different.
Goofy (Pinto Colvig) is traveling through Mexico. He is stopped on a rural road by what he believes to be a cow. It is not. It is a bull. The locals see and are impressed by his efforts to get it out of his way and decide that he is the greatest matador in the world. When he discovers this, he tries to nope out, because even Goofy knows better than that. However, we get a highly abbreviated version of a corrida, minus the various other figures involved. Poor Goofy doesn’t even get a sword, which you’d figure would’ve clued even him in to the fact that there’s somethin’ wrong, here.
This manages to be a cartoon with brownface. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and, yes, all animated characters are painted whatever colour they are, because that’s how animation works. However, one section of the audience is just lifted from “Casey at the Bat” and made to look vaguely Mexican, but if you know your Disney, it’s obvious. Other parts of the audience do seem to be original to the short, but it only serves to make that bit even more jarring. I don’t think their intentions were racist, just lazy (or cost-cutting, if you’d rather), but still.
The racial issues of the cartoon in general are a lot. All of the locals actually speaking Spanish—too fast for me to be able to tell you what they’re saying and if they’re saying anything comprehensible at all. There’s a great Surly Baby In A Hat who I felt was a bit racist but also I’m always on board for a Surly Baby In A Hat, so I’m torn on that. Giving him the hat was probably a Those People maneuver, but it got the baby in a hat. The only person credited in the short is Rafael Mendez, an actual Mexican trumpeter considered one of the best ever. If you include the uncredited people, we’ve got more Mexicans providing voices than any other ethnicity.
But at its heart, this short is “Goofy gets involved in wacky local custom.” It definitely doesn’t feel great. “Bully For Bugs” is a better version of the same thing. I try to avoid comparing Disney and Warners here, because I don’t think most of the comparisons are helpful. But when both companies present you with the same scenario in its entirety, it’s hard not to compare them. The one thing I’m pretty sure is here but not in the Warners and worthy of a compliment is that they show the process of dressing someone to be a matador. Which is a beautiful thing even if you don’t like bullfighting.