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Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: March 15, 1940
Rating:  ★★
Review:

Ants in the Plants © Max Fleischer‘With ‘Ants in the Plants’ the Fleischers more or less made their own version of Disney’s ‘Bugs in Love‘ (1932), now featuring ants.

After a rather spectacular forest intro we watch ant society, with a school, a restaurant etc. Then the queen ant sings a song telling her soldiers that their main enemy is the ant eater. The villain then immediately enters the scene, and despite his rather funny appearance, he proves to be a considerable foe.

Like ‘Bugs in Love’ (and several other Silly Symphonies) war breaks out to stop the intruder. ‘Ants in the Pants’ may be no classic, the short still belongs to the more enjoyable Color Classics. The cloying morale of contemporary Color Classics is lacking, and the classic war story, if far from original, works once again. During this scene there are some clever sight gags, with the ants combining a corncob and a magnifying glass to use those as a machine gun as a particular highlight.

Watch ‘Ants in the Plants’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Ants in the Plants’ is available on the DVD set ‘Somewhere in Dreamland – Max Fleischer’s Color Classics: The Definitive Collection’

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Director: Walt Disney
Release Date: April 25, 1929
Stars: Mickey Mouse
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

The Barnyard Battle © Walt DisneyMickey joins a barnyard army of mice (many of which are Mickey look-a-likes) against an invading army of cats.

We see him naked while he’s treated rather badly by a very rude officer. Mickey’s body is extraordinarily mechanical in this scene: the officer is able to stretch his neck and tongue endlessly, and can even take out Mickey’s heart.

In the next scene another officer shouts “company, forward march!”, making him the first character in a Disney cartoon that actually speaks. Up to this moment characters would only utter single syllable sounds and laughs. Only Minnie could express two syllables with her yoo-hoo, but that was it.

In spite of this step forward, ‘The Barnyard Battle’ remains, in effect, a silent cartoon. The way the inspecting officer asks Mickey to stick out his tongue is a perfect example. The highlight of silent acting, however, is given to Mickey, who, when confronted with a large and mean cat, gives a performance that matches Charlie Chaplin.

Mickey’s size is rather inconsistent in this cartoon. His never as small as in ‘When the Cat’s Away‘, but in some scenes he’s clearly much smaller than usual. The battle has more allusions to the American civil war than to World War I, making it a little more comfortable. Mickey finally defeats the cats by clobbering them with a hammer to Verdi’s anvil chorus from ‘Il Trovatore’. This is probably the first animated scene in which something totally unmusical is done musically. A great cartoon idea, which would be greatly expanded in many cartoons to come.

Watch ‘The Barnyard Battle’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 7
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: When the Cat’s Away
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Plow Boy

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