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Director: Jack King
Release Date: June 7, 1940
Stars: Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie
Rating:  ★★★★½
Review:

Mr. Duck Steps Out © Walt Disney‘Mr. Duck Steps Out’ opens with Donald Duck preparing to visit his love interest, Daisy Duck.

To Donald’s dismay, his nephews want to go too, and the kid trio seriously hampers his courting efforts. Even sending them off to get some ice cream doesn’t help. Nevertheless, when Huey, Dewey and Louie make Donald swallow a popping corn, Donald’s dance moves become so hot, he quickly wins Daisy over. Thus, in the end, the exhausted duck is smothered in kisses.

‘Mr. Duck Steps Out’ is a clear cartoon of the swing era, and we watch all ducks trucking and doing the lindy hop to the swinging music. The Disney composers weren’t capable of making real jazz, however, and the music remains rather tame when compared to the big bands of the era. It’s a pity, because the animation on Donald and Daisy dancing, and on the nephews are playing the music is marvelous, and certainly hotter than the music accompanying it.

‘Mr. Duck Steps Out’ is noteworthy for marking the debut of Donald’s long lasting girlfriend, Daisy Duck, Donald’s second love interest after Donna Duck had disappeared into the distance on her unicycle in ‘Don Donald‘ (1937). On the screen, Daisy remained a minor character, only appearing in ten more Donald Duck cartoons. However, she would become a regular in Al Taliaferro’s daily strip, making her debut on 4 November 1940, first as Donald’s new neighbor. Later, Carl Barks, too, made regular use of this character. In both comic strips Daisy’s appearance remained largely the same as in this cartoon.

Watch ‘Mr. Duck Steps Out’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 17
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Dog Laundry
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Put-Put Troubles

‘Mr. Duck Steps Out’ is available on the DVD set ‘The Chronological Donald Volume 1’

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Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: March 13, 1937
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Woodland Café © Walt Disney‘Woodland Café’ returns to the origin of the Silly Symphony series: music.

This enjoyable gem depicts a Harlem-like nightclub for bugs, in which blackface grasshoppers perform hot jazz, led by a Cab Calloway-like bandleader. All bugs swing to it as soon as they enter the club.

After a remarkably erotic act played by a spider and a fly the cartoon climaxes in the jazz song ‘Truckin’, recorded by both the Mills Blue Rhythm Band and Duke Ellington in 1935, and celebrating a dance style that was fashionable around ca. 1935-1938. The main feature of trucking is the shoulders which rise and fall as the dancers move towards each other while the fore finger points up and wiggles back and forth like a windshield wiper. At this point in the short even some astonishing effect animation joins in, delivering totally convincing glitter ball effects and beautiful descending fluffy flowers.

Both charming and entertaining, the whole mood of this delightful cartoon is one of sheer joy.

Watch ‘Woodland Café’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Silly Symphony No. 66
To the previous Silly Symphony: More Kittens
To the next Silly Symphony: Little Hiawatha

Director: Walt Disney
Release Date:
March 15, 1929
Stars:
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pete
Rating:
 ★★★★½
Review:

The Barn Dance © Walt DisneyIn ‘The Barn Dance’, Mickey Mouse’s fourth cartoon, Pete’s rivaling Mickey for the love of Minnie.

The first scene of this cartoon draws its inspiration from the Oswald cartoon ‘Rival Romeos‘, released only eight months earlier. Pete and Mickey both come to Minnie’s house to court her. Pete has the advantage of having a car above Mickey’s chariot, and like Donna Duck would do nine years later in ‘Don Donald‘ (1937), Minnie (wearing a bra, like she did in ‘Gallopin’ Gaucho‘) falls for it. Luckily, the car falls apart even before they’ve taken a ride, so Mickey and Minnie ride together to a barn dance hall.

Unfortunately, Mickey can’t dance: his shoes grow bigger every step, stepping on Minnie’s leg all the time. So after the dance Minnie’s leg is a long mess. She then ties it in a knot and cuts off the excess! These two gags belong to a surreal type typical of the silent era, which Disney would soon abandon.

After Mickey’s failure as a dancer, Minnie only wants to dance with Pete. Mickey solves the problem with help from a balloon, but Pete wrecks Mickey’s plan, regaining Minnie and leaving Mickey crying on the floor. This is a rather odd ending of a marvelous cartoon, which is still firmly rooted in the silent era with its surreal gags, limited use of sound and absence of dialogue.

‘The Barn Dance’ is far less known than the three Mickey Mouse cartoons preceding it, but with its clear storytelling, funny gags and strong acting it’s still a delightful cartoon to watch.

Watch ‘The Barn Dance’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 4
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Steamboat Willie
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Opry House

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