Here in Denver we’ve been having record-setting, bone-chilling temperatures the last few days. Our “high” yesterday was something like -4. So what better character to examine today than one of Walter Lantz’s second string characters, Chilly Willy.
In “Hot and Cold Penguin,” Chilly Willy is out to warm himself by a stove in an outpost guarded by a dog. The gags all come from his many attempts to get inside. Apart from one line from the dog, there is no other dialogue in the short.
There are some gags that work very well, but at the same time there are others where the timing just seems off. This is something I’ve noticed in several shorts out of Lantz’s studio. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to like about Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy and his other creations, but his films never quite reached the artistic beauty of Disney or the comic timing of Warners. Certain reactions or gestures from the dog seem to hold for too long, passing the moment of ideal humor. Ultimately it’s an enjoyable short, but Chilly Willy has had stronger outings.