The Pointer is a 1939 American animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictureson July 21, 1939. The short was directed by Clyde Geronimi and animated by Fred Moore, Frank Thomas, Lynn Karp, Seamus Culhane, Ollie Johnston, Preston Blair, Lester Norvi, John Lounsbery, Claude Smitha, Art Palmer, and Josh Meador. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoon) in 1940.
The cartoon follows Mickey Mouse as he tries to teach his dog Pluto to be a pointer dog during a quail hunt. It was directed by Clyde Geronimi and features the voices of Walt Disney as Mickey and Lee Millar as Pluto.
Although often cited as the animated debut of Mickey's modern character design, this actually occurred five months earlier in Mickey's Surprise Party. Nevertheless, The Pointer is still considered a milestone Mickey Mouse film for its background art and Mickey's acting which was personally staged by Walt Disney. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 12th Academy Awards in 1940, but untimely lost to Disney's own The Ugly Duckling, the final installment of the Silly Symphony series.
The pointer sisters slow hand
Mickey Mouse and Pluto are camping in the woods about to set out hunting. Mickey reads to Pluto from an instructional book how to point at game and not move. Mickey promises that if they are successful they will have "quail on toast, and maybe a nice big juicy bear steak" that night. They then set out into the forest, Mickey carrying a shotgun.
But the first time they see quail, Pluto gets too excited, knocks Mickey over, and scares the birds away. Mickey scolds Pluto, but later softens, realizing that Pluto is a mutt and won't be able to learn. They set off again, but become separated. Pluto again hears some quail, and points at them. He is careful this time not to move at all, even to the point of letting the quail jump up on him and pull his fur. Mickey however, is unaware that Pluto is not right behind him. He jumps down from a rock and unwittingly wakes a sleeping bear who starts to follow him. Only when Mickey doubles around and comes across Pluto, still in his pointer position, does he realize that there is a bear behind him.
The bear appears to be belligerent, but rather than running away, Mickey first tries to talk to the bear, explaining that he and Pluto were only hunting quail. Mickey even introduces himself to the bear, saying "I hope you've heard of me."
The bear instead chases after Mickey and Pluto, who tear a path across the landscape back to their camp. That night they happily eat a supper of canned beans.
Use in other media
Animation of Mickey whistling and walking through the woods was reused in the Disneyland episode "Tricks of Our Trade" in 1957. For this appearance, Pluto was omitted, and Mickey was redrawn having different clothes and carrying a fishing pole instead of a shotgun.
1939 – Theatrical release
1954 – Disneyland, episode #1.1: "The Disneyland Story" (TV)
1961 – Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, episode #8.5: "The Hunting Instinct" (TV)
c. 1983 – Good Morning, Mickey!, episode #9 (TV)
1983 – "Cartoon Classics: Pluto" (VHS)
1997 – The Ink and Paint Club, episode #1.2: "Mickey's Landmarks" (TV)
2004 – "Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume Two" (DVD)