Walt Disney made 26 animated shorts featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit before losing the rights to the popular character in a distribution deal gone wrong. Alas, only 19 of the original shorts are known to exist. Now, an 84 year old Disney fan in Japan has produced a copy of one of the missing films.
The two-minute black and white film is titled “Neck ‘n’ Neck” and was released in 1928. A few copies found their way to Japan where one was purchased by a teenage Japanese man named Yasushi Watanabe in Osaka. 70 years later Mr. Watanabe realized the importance of his find when he read the book “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons”, published in 2017 by David Bossert.
The animated short follows Oswald and his girlfriend in a car as they are chased by a dog policeman. The pursuit takes the vehicles up a steep mountain road where familiar site gags, like squash and stretch, are used to heighten the humorous situations.
Disney CEO Bob Iger famously traded ABC Football Announcer Al Michaels to NBC to reacquire the rights of Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, providing resolution to an important moment in the history of the Walt Disney Company. Interested on more on the history of Oswald? Check out this Oh My Disney article from 2016.)
Walt Disney Archives director Becky Cline has verified the lost film and Mr. Bossert says he hopes to have the footage ready for a screening of other animation scholars in the near future. Hopefully us fans will get a chance to see it sometime soon too.
(Via the Telegraph)