Recently, I acquired a gift certificate that enabled me to make the near-miraculous purchase of a copy of The Complete Goofy. This was one of Disney’s old commemorative tin releases; specifically, this is a set of the full collection of Goofy animated shorts. Not Mickey and Goofy, not Mickey and Donald and Goofy, not Donald and Goofy. Just Goofy. Now, I have wanted this since it was new, because of the big three, Goofy is my favourite. The set was a limited edition, and prices lately have been several hundred dollars. I found it for fifty. I am delighted and therefore have to share with all of you.
Obviously, the set includes this short. Which I barely remember seeing but know I have because I remember the punchline. It’s one of those “every character is Goofy” shorts. We start with Goofy (Pinto Colvig) studying the pedigrees of assorted horses while a narrator (Harlow Wilcox) lectures us about the Sport of Kings. After much consideration of factors to do with the horse and the track, he decides that the horse to back is Snapshot III. He goes to the track (an amalgam of Hollywood Park and Santa Anita, if you want my opinion), where another Goofy decides the horse to bet on is Old Moe.
Strangely, there are not a lot of Funny Horse Names in the race. “Apartment House with plenty of room” and so forth. Snapshot III lends us to a few photography jokes in his ancestry, and that’s it. The horse names do not seem terribly out of place in the history of horse racing. Not, you understand, that I am myself a devotee, but that was the year Citation won the Triple Crown, and is Bees Wax a weirder name than that? 1926 gave us a Kentucky Derby winner named Bubbling Over, and Bubble Bath from this short may have been a direct reference to that for all I know.
What separates this out from “how to” shorts, if you want my opinion, is that while in theory we are learning how to bet on horses, in practice, this isn’t really teaching us anything. It’s much closer to the sports cartoons, inasmuch as about half the cartoon is dedicated to watching the horse race—and that’s as much about the horses as about Goofy. It’s a weird amalgam of a short that mostly seems to be a Goofy cartoon because in the late ’40s, cartoons with large groups of humanoid figures had all of the characters be Goofy.
The sports shorts have never been my first choice, much though I may love Goofy. I don’t like sports, and the multi-Goofy shorts don’t have the same level of pure comedy. Goofy is funny; these cartoons are not. And if the ending is funny and memorable, it’s no real wonder that I don’t remember most of the rest of the cartoon. Mid-century Disney shorts have a reputation for not being terribly funny. Most of the time, that reputation is undeserved; in this case, it is not.