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Mickey's Birthday Party (ending) © Walt DisneyHooray! Today it’s the day! Mickey turns ninety years young, and still counting!

Today it was ninety years ago Mickey was presented to the general audience in the Colony Theatre on Broadway, in the groundbreaking sound cartoon ‘Steamboat Willie‘. This short made Mickey a sensation almost over night, and during the 1930s Mickey was the biggest cartoon star of them all. Today, Mickey’s movie days are mostly over, but otherwise he’s clearly still alive and kicking.

So, take out your Mickey Mouse socks, your Mickey Mouse T-shirt, your Mickey Mouse ears, and spend this festive day watching some of Mickey’s best cartoons, like ‘Plane Crazy‘ (1928), ‘Barnyard Olympics‘ (1932), ‘The Mad Doctor‘ (1933) or ‘Mickey’s Fire Brigade‘ (1935), and learn more about them in my book ‘Mickey’s Movies – The Theatrical Films of Mickey Mouse‘.

For a complete list of Mickey Mouse shorts see here.

 

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The Birthday Party © Walt DisneyIn two weeks Mickey Mouse will be ninety years young!

On November 18, it will be ninety years ago Mickey made his public debut in ‘Steamboat Willie‘, creating an enormous success and changing the course of animation forever. Today Mickey is as alive as ever, even if his heydays (ca. 1928-1935) lay way behind him. In those days Mickey without doubt was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, and most of his films stem from this era. What would be better than spend some time watching a few of Mickey’s best films? Why not take a look at for example ‘Traffic Troubles‘, ‘Touchdown Mickey‘, ‘The Klondike Kid‘, ‘Mickey’s Gala Premier‘ or ‘The Band Concert‘. For a complete list of Mickey Mouse shorts see here.

Later Mickey settled done more, and on the silver screen he was eventually eclipsed by the likes of Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry. Mickey retired from cinema in 1953, but today he’s still all over the place, e.g. in comic strips, on television, in merchandise, and as a host in Disney parks.

Read all about Mickey’s exciting cinematic career in my book ‘Mickey’s Movies – The Theatrical Films of Mickey Mouse‘.

Director: unknown
Release Date: 1940
Rating:  ★★★½
Review:

Baby Kangaroo's Birthday Surprise‘Baby Kangaroo’s Birthday Surprise’ tells about the birthday of Kan-Chan, the youngest kangaroo in a family of five.

All goes well, until a hungry wolf arrives. The wolf eats all the food, and kidnaps Kan-Chan to eat him as well. The family comes to the rescue, aided by a troupe of moles, who dig a bunch of holes into the wolf’s hut. They taunt and finally bind him, so the family of kangaroos can reunite.

‘Baby Kangaroo’s Birthday Surprise’ is a silent film, but the animation is more advanced than in contemporary Japanese films, incorporating various lessons from Disney animation (squash and stretch, follow-through etc.). The wolf is clearly modeled on Disney’s wolf from ‘Three Little Pigs‘, and he’s animated best, probably because of the more sophisticated source material.

Watch ‘Baby Kangaroo’s Birthday Surprise’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Baby Kangaroo’s Birthday Surprise’ is available on the DVD-box set ‘Japanese Anime Classic Collection’

Director: Bob Clampett
Release Date: June 25, 1938
Stars: Porky Pig
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Porky's Party © Warner Bros.By 1938, the Warner Bros. Studio really started to hit its stride. ‘Porky’s Party’ is a good example of the studio’s new, confident and unique style, which owed virtually nothing to the Disney convention.

In ‘Porky’s Party’, Porky celebrates his own birthday. His party is hindered by a silk worm he gets as a present from uncle Phineas Pig. When one exclaims ‘sew’, the worm immediately starts sewing clothes out of nowhere, including a bra. It may be clear that once Porky says ‘So!’, the worm does the same thing. Another problem is Porky’s dog, who gets drunk on his hair tonic, and who’s mistaken of being mad. Porky’s guests aren’t helping either: one is a penguin who eats all his food, the other a particularly loony duck goose.

‘Porky’s Party’ is rather disjointed, but its atmosphere is strikingly silly, and the gags come in fast and plenty. Only the gag in which the penguin swallows a worm-produced silk hat, is milked too long. But mostly, ‘Porky’s Party’ is an early testimony of Warner Bros.’ unique, wacky style, which would dominate the war years.

Watch ‘Porky’s Party’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Porky Pig cartoon no. 42
To the previous Porky Pig cartoon: Porky the Fireman
To the next Porky Pig cartoon: Porky’s Spring Planting

‘Porky’s Party’ is available on the DVD-set ‘Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume Three’

Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: April 21, 1933
Stars: Betty Boop, Bimbo, Koko the Clown
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Betty Boop's Birthday Party © Max FleischerBetty’s working alone at home, singing the song ‘Hummin’ to Myself’, but then her bell rings.

She finds a package at her doorstep, which appears to be a birthday cake. It appears that her friends have organized a surprise party for her. Koko gives her a dachshund, Bimbo gives her three fish in a bowl, and Fleischer’s unnamed stock baby gives her a piano.

In the third scene we watch Betty and her visitors eating at a long table in the garden. All goes well, until two visitors start arguing about a fish, and the complete party ends in a fight. This part includes a remarkably scene of Bimbo changing himself into a machine gun, shooting peas. While the party gets totally out of hand, Betty sails off with a statue of George Washington (don’t try to understand this).

‘Betty Boop’s Birthday Party’ is an enjoyable cartoon, if not among Betty’s best. The flapper girl has her finest moment during the opening scenes,  and the best gag may the unpacking of the piano.

Watch ‘Betty Boop’s Birthday Party’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Betty Boop cartoon No. 14
To the previous Betty Boop cartoon: Snow-White
To the next Betty Boop cartoon: Betty Boop’s May Party

‘Betty Boop’s Birthday Party’ is available on the French DVD Box Set ‘Betty Boop Coffret Collector’

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