Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: July 10, 1931
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
This was a plot structure used in many Mickey Mouse cartoons from 1931 to 1933, with ‘The Pet Store‘ being the last example. This half-baked structure was soon replaced by stories filling the complete cartoons.
In ‘Mickey Steps Out’, Mickey visits Minnie, but Pluto, who should have stayed in, is following him, dragging his dog house along to Minnie’s place. First, Mickey and Minnie perform their usual song-and-dance-routine (this time based on ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’), but when Pluto is chasing a cat, their music is interrupted and followed by a fast sequence of gags of Pluto and the cat ruining the house culminating in a blackface gag.
‘Mickey Steps Out’ arguably contains the first well-constructed finale in Disney history. It’s at least the first of a series of cartoons that end in complete destruction. Pluto would again cause havoc in ‘Mickey Cuts Up’ (1931) and ‘The Grocery Boy’ (1932). Later, destruction would be caused by little kittens (a.o. ‘Mickey’s Orphans‘, 1931) and orphan mice (a.o. ‘Mickey’s Nightmare’, 1932). ‘Mickey Steps Out’ reuses footage of ‘The Birthday Party’ of Mickey with a fishbowl on his head.
Almost secretly, the film introduces another novelty: the first attempt at a realistically drawn animal: Minnie’s canary is in no sense cartoony, behaving like a real bird. It’s a major advance when compared to the Silly Symphony ‘Birds of a Feather‘ from six months earlier. The canary only plays a small part in the cartoon, but is the testimony of Disney’s ultimate ambitions, even at this stage. It’s these innovations, better story arcs and a strive towards better, more realistic animation that propelled the Disney cartoons forward, leaving their contemporaries far behind.
Watch ‘Mickey Steps Out’ yourself and tell me what you think: