Before Mickey was a mouse, he was a rabbit -- named Oswald. But, except for the ears, Oswald is virtually an identical Mickey -- created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in 1927 and the star of 26 cartoons before receiving a makeover and emerging as Mickey in 1928. Fewer than half of those films still exist. But one of them, Hungry Hobos , long believed to have vanished forever, has been discovered at the Huntley Film Archives in Herefordshire, England, which specializes in social history films. Amanda Huntley, who runs it, told Britain's Guardian newspaper that a colleague stumbled onto the film, Googled the title, and learned that it was regarded as a missing film. "We quickly realized it was one of the great lost films. We posted the news on specialist web forums and everybody was very excited. It is significant because it is Disney but also because the character was the prototype of Mickey Mouse. ... How we ended up with the film, I don't know. It was probably collected by my father who started the company and it has been sitting on our shelves for decades. We have decided to sell it because it is not really what we specialize in and we can use the money to preserve other films we have." Stephanie Connell of the action house Bonhams, which will be handling the sale, told The Guardian , " Hungry Hobos is an incredible find, a lost masterpiece and a cartoon with a unique and vital place in animation history."

28/11/2011