Saturday Matinee #117: "Hello Aloha" (February 19, 1952)
Published March 30, 2013
by Albert Gutierrez
Afternoon, Matineers. Yours truly is currently enjoying a ten-day vacation, and has decided to celebrate by taking a virtual trip to Hawaii. "How?" you may ask. Well, I could always put Lilo & Stitch into the DVD player and enjoy the quirkly young girl with her equally odd "dog." Or, I could track down the fourth Hayley Mills Parent Trap movie, in which she, Barry Bostwick, and the Creel triplets attempt to run a beach resort. If we wanted to go completely old school, there's also Saturday Matinee #21, "Hawaiian Holiday," which takes us back to 1937, back when Hawaii was still a U.S. Territory. But I think the most enjoyable way for me to experience Hawaii would have to be in a 1952 Goofy short, appropriately titled "Hello Aloha," which translates either into "Hello Hello" or "Hello Goodbye" depending on how you want to use the latter word. For now, I'll be redundant and proclaim "Hello Hello" to Hawaii...
Meet George Geef, your everyday working man. He needs a vacation, don't you think? All that paper-pushing will get to him eventually. Yes, a vacation is exactly what he needs. Geef daydreams about taking a cruise, and finally does. At last, he has a chance to relax, to say goodbye to the hustle and bustle of the city, and just lounge around. He walks barefoot on the beach, picks up a plentiful helping of fresh fruit and turtle eggs. Why, he even has time to listen to a seashell and read a message in a bottle. It says "You're fired!" but that's not important. He quit, anyway.
Geef then builds a straw house, complete with hammock... and torrential rain. But he doesn't care, he's on vacation. Let him sway back and forth, painting tranquil strokes on a canvas, tapping out his genius in a novel. Best of all, he can celebrate at a luau with the natives. Grade A coconut milk is available, along with local favorite shark fin soup. A hula dancer entices Geef to the top of a volcano. Wait, what? Volcano? No, something's wrong. This isn't rest and relaxation... it's a sacrifice! As the narrator so aptly puts it, "Geef knew the friendly natives wouldn't throw him into the volcano - but they did."
Rather than identifying the character as Goofy, he's known simply as George Geef. This helps make him the everyman rather than the lanky, clumsy character with which audiences were more familiar. Thus, Geef's actions here are not as comedically awkward, for lack of a better phrase. He's actually quite graceful in his movements, comedy results more from his reaction to humorous events rather than him instigating them. Goofy might pick up the seashell and not know how to listen to it; Geef knows what to do, and is rewarded with a tidal wave emerging from within the shell. This is the Goofy closer to "my" Goofy from the 1990's "Goof Troop." The everyman persona really fits Goofy better than the strictly-clumsy character. It added a dimension to him that is still lost on Mickey and Donald, who've settled into their more one-sided personalities (the hero one and the tempermental one, respectively).
One thing you may notice about this cartoon in comparison to others is the special on-screen credit to "Harry Owens and his Orchestra." Rather than give them a credit with the rest of the crew, this is actually superimposed with the title of the cartoon. I haven't encountered this in other shorts (at least not in recent memory), but it is quite important. Harry Owens was a popular bandleader of the era, particularly for his work at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki. Appointed as music director, Owens immersed himself in Hawaiian culture, composing original songs with a Hawaiian flair. He's perhaps best known today for the song "Sweet Leilani," featured in the 1937 Bing Crosby film Waikiki Wedding. Owens and Crosby had already maintained a longstanding friendship when Crosby approached him to include the song in his film. It was a huge success for both, earning Owens an Academy Award for Best Song and Crosby his first gold record.
"Hello Aloha" has only made three appearances on DVD. Naturally, it was included in Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Goofy, originally released in 2002. It was also included in Volume Seven of "Classic Cartoon Favorites," entitled "Extreme Adventure Fun." Its final DVD appearance was in Volume Three of the compilation series "It's A Small World of Fun!" Disney has been very resistant towards releasing their classic shorts to Blu-Ray, or even for free on YouTube (aside from "Have A Laugh" edited versions), so the lack of any new media releases since 2007 has been quite frustrating. Hopefully, the studio will decide to re-introduce consumers to these classic shorts in the near future, especially in high definition.