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  • "The Little Stranger" is a cartoon from the Fleischer Brothers and must have been influenced by the prior Disney short "The Ugly Duckling", as the latter film is obviously just a reworking of this story.

    When the film began, I was immediately struck by two things--how nice the 3-D effects were (and the Fleischers did this in many films) and how ugly the print was. The ugly print was because the copy posted at is extremely dark and has nothing to do with how the film originally looked. Originally, the color was quite vibrant but here it unfortunately is rather muddy.

    The story begins with a chicken leaving her egg in a duck's nest. When the eggs hatch, the baby chicken is a major disappointment. He cannot swim and seems pretty useless. However, his chickeny skills turn out to save the day in the end.

    While this is a quality cartoon, it lacks an edge. There are no laughs...none. And the product, unfortunately, is amazingly dull. Not a terrible cartoon but one that fails to excite the viewer.
  • It is not as if there was a want to hate 'The Little Stranger' before viewing it. Actually really like to love a lot of what Fleischer Studios did (as a big lifelong animation fan), and on the most part the late 30s was a prime period for them thanks to some of the best Popeye cartoons made during it. The idea for the story was also interesting, reminding me of Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Ugly Duckling' (a story that gets me emotionally every time), and potentially very relatable.

    'The Little Stranger' underwhelmed me unfortunately and it was disappointing that a rather average effort was made in one of the studio's best periods. It is not an awful cartoon and could see the effort put into some of its elements, but it boasted one of the "Color Classics" series' most potentially interesting stories and doesn't do enough with it. As far as this particular series goes, 'The Little Stranger' is not one of the best, but it just about avoids being one of the worst at the same time.

    Will start with the good things. The music has plenty of character and lushness, as well as adding a lot to what is going on. The animation is mostly attractive enough, with the beautifully detailed backgrounds faring best by quite some way and the colours are very vibrant.

    Of the characters, the vulture is by far the best and most interesting, also being a genuinely formidable adversary. The titular character is an easy one to remember and the ending is cute.

    Conversely, the story structure is interesting on paper but 'The Little Stranger' does far too little with it. Despite it being quite eventful action-wise, there is just no oomph to the content and it is very derivative. Which made the cartoon feel very run-of-the-mill and pedestrian. Felt very little emotion, which made it a rather cold experience when it is a story that should be touching.

    Humour is completely absent and even having a little here would have balanced things well (it felt rather overly-serious which added to the dullness). And there is no tension due to the outcome being obvious as soon as the vulture is introduced, we have seen it so many times and it was done to death long before 'The Little Stranger' was made like in the Terrytoons cartoons. None of the rest of the characters make much of an impression and the characters have been much crisper and more appealing before and since for the studio.

    Summing up, just about borders on average but somewhat underwhelming. A meek 5/10
  • boblipton28 November 2002
    If you're a fan of cartoons -- or 'animation' as those who attempt to give it great dignity call it -- you have undoubtedly seen A CORNY CONCERTO. Well, this is the Blue Danube section..... but with no redeeming jokes. A great pity.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a very familiar story but still a cute cartoon. There aren't a lot of laughs and I would recommend not showing this to very young kids because there are a couple of moments would be a little too scary for them.

    It is the old "ugly duckling" in reverse. A little chick hatched among three ducks. Momma, complete with bonnet, tries to teach them all to quack and sing correctly but, of course, our guy (one immediately roots for the little one) only tweets. Swimming doesn't over too well, either, until the chick improvises with an egg shell and paddles his way down the stream.

    Anyway, the predictable story occurs as a nasty, ugly vulture comes back and is a real threat to everyone's lives. You know who winds up the hero, and then is accepted.

    The cartoon has charm, that's for sure.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Several of Disney's "Silly Symphonies" cartoon series were adaptations of classic stories in the public domain, but there was only one story which that series adapted twice: Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Ugly Duckling'. The Fleischer studio's cartoon 'The Little Stranger' almost seems to be a reply to Disney's efforts: not a parody, because this cartoon isn't funny and doesn't try to be.

    'The Little Stranger' has two points which intrigued me very much. Point #1 is that this cartoon is a switch on the classic ugly-duckling story. Rather than a swanling getting among the ducklings, here we have a chick (a baby chicken) hatching among the ducklings. Unlike in Andersen's version, the changeling child here is actually better-looking and more graceful than his step-siblings, yet is still an outcast.

    Point #2 which impressed me is that this is the only version I've ever encountered of the ugly-ducking story which addressed an unresolved question in Andersen's original story: how did a swanling ever come to be hatched and reared among ducks? 'The Little Stranger' has a bizarre prologue in which a tear-stricken hen deposits her egg in another nest, which turns out to be a duck's nest. So we're able to concentrate on the story (such as it is) without wondering how a chick ends up among ducklings.

    SPOILER COMING. Those are the points in this toon's favour. Now, here's the worst point that works against it: 'The Little Stranger' has the single most hackneyed plot line in all of children's fiction. This is the plot line which children's book editors deride as 'Egbert the Egg'. It goes like this: all the other eggs laughed at Egbert until he saved them from the egg-beater. In 'The Little Stranger', the ducklings mock the changeling chick until he saves them from a vulture. Ho hum.

    The cleverness and originality in the premise of this movie don't make up for the extremely hackneyed plot which then descends from that premise. I'll rate this toon just 1 point out of 10. Fleischer should have stuck to Popeye and Superman cartoons.