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Director: Joe Grant?
Release Date:
 November 18, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Wallace Beery, Lynn Fontanne, Alfred Lunt, Helen Hayes, Fredric March, Marie Dressler
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Parade of the Award Nominees © Walt Disney‘Parade of the Award Nominees’ was especially made for the fifth Academy Awards gala night of November 18, 1932 to introduce the nominees for best actors and actresses.

The short is based on the opening parade of ‘Mother Goose Melodies‘ (1931), and reuses quite some animation from the original Silly Symphony, but this time it features Mickey, Minnie and Pluto, all in their color debut, predating their official color debuts in ‘The Band Concert‘, ‘On Ice‘ and ‘Mickey’s Garden‘ respectively by three years. Thus, their color designs are a bit different: Mickey wears green shorts instead of red ones, and Pluto is a sort of grey-ish, instead of orange-brown.

Following Mickey, Minnie and some characters from the original ‘Mother Goose Melodies’ we watch the following Hollywood stars parade: Wallace Beery as ‘The Champ’, Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt (both starring ‘The Guardsman’), Helen Hayes (‘The Sin of Madelon Claudet’), Fredric March (‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’), transforming while walking, and finally Marie Dressler (‘Emma’).

The caricatures were based on designs by Joe Grant, who, at that time, was still working as a newspaper caricutarist. Grant was only hired later, for ‘Mickey’s Gala Premier‘, which premiered eight months later, and which features many more caricatures of Hollywood stars. Incidentally, Fredric March, Wallace Beery and Helen Hayes won the Oscars.

Apart from this film, Disney was very present at this gala night: he was nominated for Best Sound Recording, he won the Oscar for the new category ‘Best Animated Short Film’ with his full-color debut ‘Flowers and Trees‘, and he got an honorary award for the creation of Mickey Mouse, with which Hollywood acknowledged the little mouse’s extraordinary fame. This was Disney’s first triumphant presence at the Academy Awards, but many successes would follow, as Walt Disney would receive no less than 26 Academy Awards during his career…

Watch ‘Parade of the Award Nominees’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Parade of the Award Nominees’ is available on the DVD ‘Mickey Mouse in Living Color’

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date:
 November 12, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pete, Goofy
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

The Klondike Kid © Walt DisneyKlondike. In a beautiful opening scene we cut to “Klondike Bar’, a rowdy bar, where Mickey is a bar pianist, playing the popular ballad ‘Frankie and Johnny’.

The bar scene is pretty complex, with a lot going on. Goofy is there, too, seemingly just to show he’s a star to stay, for he has no involvement in the plot, at all. Outside, Minnie is freezing, and Mickey takes her inside, but then Pierre (a.k.a. Pete) arrives, peg leg and all. Soon he runs off with Minnie after a short gun fighting scene. Mickey, of course, rushes out to follow him, and jumps on a sled pulled by Pluto. In a remote log cabin, a fight ensues…

In essence ‘The Klondike Kid’ is ‘Gallopin’ Gaucho‘ in Alaska. But what an execution of such an old idea! The gags are plenty and funny and build up to a fast paced finale. This short is unique for its time in its clever integration of story and gags: the gags are not bonuses, but really add to the story. Highlight must be the ridiculous fight between Mickey and Peg Leg Pete hindered by spiral springs. Mickey Mouse arguably reached the apex of his solo career with this cartoon.

Because of the strong similarities in setting and storyline ‘The Klondike Kid’ feels like a direct ancestor to Tex Avery’s two settings of the poem ‘The Shooting of Dan McGrew’: ‘Dangerous Dan McFoo’ (Warner Brothers, 1939) and ‘The Shooting of Dan McGoo‘ (MGM, 1946).

Watch ‘The Klondike Kid’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 49
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Wayward Canary
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Good Deed

‘The Klondike Kid’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date:
 October 15, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Goofy
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Touchdown Mickey © Walt DisneyLike the earlier ‘Barnyard Olympics‘, ‘Touchdown Mickey’ is as fast-paced sports cartoon. It plunges right into action, when we watch Mickey getting a touchdown for his team Mickey’s Manglers, in an attempt to defeat their opponents, the Alley Cats. The Alley Cats all look like Pete sans peg leg, and they prove tough opponents to Mickey’s much more diverse team.

The sheer speed with which the countless gags are delivered is astonishing, especially when compared to contemporary cartoons from other studios, or earlier Mickeys. By 1932 the studio made better use of Mickey the little hero than ever before, and ‘Touchdown Mickey’ excellently plays on Mickey as the underdog beating the odds. This means we can immediately sympathize with him and his feeble team, drawing us into the match ourselves – as we really want him to win.

The short marks Goofy’s third screen appearance and already he is a more recognizable and more defined character than Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow would ever be. In ‘Touchdown Mickey’ he’s a radio reporter, if a rather uninformative one, and in one of the numerous gags he accidentally mistakes the head of a colleague for his microphone. Twelve years later Goofy would be playing football himself, in ‘How to Play Football’ (1944), but by then is character had gone through quite some transformations.

Interestingly, there’s another character with a characteristic laugh in this cartoon, a fat pig in the audience, who wears glasses and holds a cigar. As his design is more complex than that of all other characters, I suspect him to be a caricature, but of whom?

‘Touchdown Mickey’ was released only twelve days after the Flip the Frog cartoon ‘The Goal Rush‘, which covers exactly the same subject to less satisfying results.’Touchdown Mickey’ is great, it’s fun and absolutely among Mickey’s all time best cartoons.

Watch ‘Touchdown Mickey’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 47
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Whoopee Party
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Wayward Canary

‘Touchdown Mickey’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date:
 August 13, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Mickey's Nightmare © Walt Disney‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ is not a spooky horror cartoon like ‘The Haunted House‘ or ‘The Gorilla Mystery‘. No, it’s more of a bachelor’s nightmare…

The short’s plot harks back all the way to ‘Poor Papa’ (1928), the pilot film for the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit series, Mickey’s predecessor. In ‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ Mickey dreams he finally marries Minnie, and is soon visited by a stork delivering a baby, and another, and another… Until the storks deliver tons of little kids. When he is awake he’s very happy to be still a bachelor.

‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ introduces the little orphan mice, who would replace the little kittens of ‘Mickey’s Orphans‘ (1931) and ‘Mickey’s Revue’ (1932) as a cause of complete destruction. In Mickey’s dream they ruin the house, especially with paint. In order to show Mickey’s horror scenario, the short uses some excellent and complex use of animation cycles featuring lots and lots of little kids.

It’s interesting that the orphan mice first were introduced as Mickey’s children, and only in dream form. In their next cartoon, ‘Giantland‘ (1933), they suddenly materialized into the real world. The orphan mice would stay around until 1936, starring five more cartoons, before returning one final time in ‘Pluto’s Party‘ from 1952.

The little brats also appeared in the Sunday Pages of Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse comic, starting on September 18. In Gottfredson’s comics the mice are reduced to two, but no less disastrous. They are introduced as Mrs. Fieldmouse’s children and are apparently Mickey’s nephews. These two would eventually be christened Morty and Ferdie, and reenter the movie screen once in ‘Mickey’s Steamroller‘ (1934).

‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ spawned at least two similar cartoons: first the Warner Bros. cartoon ‘Porky’s Romance’ (1937), and second, the Donald Duck short ‘Donald’s Diary‘ from 1954.

Watch ‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 44
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey in Arabia
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Trader Mickey

‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date:
 May 12, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Pluto, Goofy
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Mickey's Revue © Walt Disney‘Mickey’s Revue’ is famous for introducing Goofy, whose guffaw we had heard off-stage in the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon, ‘Barnyard Olympics‘.

In this cartoon he’s an elderly person, bearded and wearing glasses. We don’t hear him speak, only his guffaw can be heard, and together with Pluto he forms the running gag of the cartoon. Although Goofy literally has the last laugh, nothing points to the direction of a star career beyond the laugh itself, and indeed, in ‘Trader Mickey‘ his guffaw was used by a cannibal king, indicating it was not an exclusive trait, yet.

Nevertheless, Goofy would return in ‘The Whoopee Party‘, redesigned, christened Dippy Dawg, and here to stay. In fact, Goofy arguably is the first cartoon character, whose voice predates the screen persona, which is completely built around the stupid laugh, and ditto voice.

Apart from Goofy’s debut, there’s enough to enjoy in ‘Mickey’s Revue’, even though it revisits two themes explored earlier in the Mickey Mouse cartoons: that of Mickey and the gang giving a performance and that of animals causing havoc. Here, the source of havoc are the small kittens from ‘The Barnyard Broadcast‘ and ‘Mickey’s Orphans‘ (both 1931). It was their last screen performance, for they would soon be replaced by little mice, first introduced in ‘Mickey’s Nightmare‘ (1932).

‘Mickey’s Revue’ follows the same lines as ‘The Barnyard Broadcast’, but is much better executed, cleverly intertwining the subplots of Goofy’s annoying laugh, Pluto trying to enter the stage, and the kittens interfering with Mickey’s performance. One of the gags involve a kitten caught in the hammers of Minnie’s piano, a gag looking forward to a similar one in the Tom & Jerry cartoon ‘The Cat Concerto‘ (1947). Despite it’s great comedy, ‘Mickey’s Revue’ was the last cartoon exploiting the ruin finale, as used in 1931/1932 cartoons like ‘Mickey Cuts Up‘ and ‘The Grocery Boy‘.

‘Mickey’s Revue’ is a typical ensemble cartoon, also starring Minnie, Horace Horsecollar and no less than three Clarabelle Cows. By now Horace Horsecollar had caught up with his comic personality, and had grown in personality beyond that of a stereotyped horse. Unfortunately, Horace was not developed further on the movie screen – it was left to Floyd Gottfredson  to explore Horace’s character further in his comic strip.

Watch ‘Mickey’s Revue’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 41
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Barnyard Olympics
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Musical Farmer

‘Mickey’s Revue’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date:
 June 8, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Musical Farmer © Walt DisneyIn this film Mickey and Minnie are farmers, which makes the film a little like a remake of ‘The Plow Boy‘ (1929).

First we watch Mickey planting seeds with help from Pluto, and Minnie milking a cow. Then Mickey decides to scare Minnie by stepping inside the scarecrow. A string of gags leads to Mickey playing the bagpipes on three geese. This starts a musical number, which is almost Silly Symphony-like in its directionless musical fun at the barnyard. We watch cows, lamb, ducks, pigeons, turkeys and chickens moving and dancing to the tune of Turkey in the Straw.

But then we cut to several chickens laying multitudes of eggs, except for poor Fanny. At this point suddenly a story develops, with Fanny laying an enormous egg, which attracts a lot of attention from her fellow chickens, the other animals, and finally, Mickey. Mickey rushes to bring his camera to make a picture of it, but unfortunately, he uses too much flash light powder, and everything explodes. This final gag was also used by Floyd Gottfredson in the Mickey Mouse comic strip, published on March 13, 1932.

‘The Musical Farmer’ is one of the weaker Mickey Mouse films of 1932. Like e.g. ‘Mickey Cuts Up‘ and ‘The Grocery Boy‘ it’s uses the part-musical-number-part-frantic-finale-formula, but by mid-1932 shots of dancing animals had become a bit tiring and old-fashioned. Moreover, Fanny’s story feels a little out of place, and I suspect that part of this film was intentionally designed as a Silly Symphony, which apparently never really took off.

Watch ‘Musical Farmer’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 42
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Revue
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey in Arabia

‘Musical Farmer’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume Two’

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date:
 August 7, 1931
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Pluto?
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Blue Rhythm © Walt Disney‘Blue Rhythm’ is a genuine concert cartoon, in the vain of ‘The Opry House‘ (1929), ‘The Jazz Fool‘ (1929), ‘Just Mickey‘ (1930) and ‘The Barnyard Concert‘ (1930).

Something has happened however, for now Mickey and the gang are not performing for their own fun or at the barnyard, but they are giving a concert in a large theater. It thus predates similar concert cartoons like ‘The Band Concert (1935), Bugs Bunny’s ‘Rhapsody Rabbit‘ (1946), and Tom & Jerry’s ‘The Cat Concerto‘ (1947), introducing several piano and conductor gags.

This is one of those rare Disney cartoons in which the music performed can be unmistakably identified as jazz (in the earlier ‘The Jazz Fool’ this is not the case, despite the cartoon’s name). In fact, the cartoon is one great rendering of the St. Louis Blues (and not ‘Blue Rhythm’, a composition also popular in 1931, and recorded by Fletcher Henderson and Mills Blue Rhythm Band).

W.C. Handy’s classic song is first performed by Mickey on the piano, borrowing some tricks from Chico Marx. Then it is sung by Minnie, followed by some scatting by the both of them. Then Mickey and Minnie leave the stage, the curtain opens to reveal a big band, to which Mickey returns to conduct. And finally the blues is performed by Mickey on the clarinet, imitating bandleader Ted Lewis, complete with the entertainer’s typical top hat.

Minnie’s blues singing resembles contemporary female vaudeville blues singers (e.g. Gertrude Lawrence, Ethel Levey and Victoria Spivey) and the pig trumpeter performs in the growling jungle style of Bubber Miley, who was a trumpeter in Duke Ellington’s band. Mickey shows to be an all round entertainer, performing as a stride pianist, a scat singer, a conductor and a clarinetist. Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow, on the other hand, are clearly a percussionist and flutist, respectively, roles they would also have in ‘The Band Concert‘ (1935), the greatest of Mickey’s concert cartoons. Also featured in Mickey’s band is a dog who may or may not be Pluto, and who plays the trombone, disturbing Mickey while doing so.

Blue Rhythm is a great cartoon, from the opening scene, in which Mickey casts a huge shadow on the curtains to the grand finale in which the excited performance makes the stage collapse. This cartoon may have few gags, it is a delightful ode to music, and to jazz in particular.

Watch ‘Blue Rhythm’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 31
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey Steps Out
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Fishin’ Around

‘Blue Rhythm’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date:
 November 20, 1930
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Pioneer Days © Walt DisneyIn ‘Pioneer Days’ Mickey and Minnie are pioneers travelling in a caravan through the Midwest.

After an all too long sing-and-dance-routine they are attacked by vicious wolf-like Indians. These bring in some spectacular animation: a dance with long shadows around a bonfire, a complex attack scene, and an impressive shot taken from one of the horses circling the encampment, showing a moving background of wagons in perfect perspective.

Most spectacular is the fight between Mickey and a horrible Indian, who has kidnapped Minnie. The fight is shown in close-up, and contains quite some complex movements between the two. It’s scenes like these that show that Disney kept taking the lead in the animation field, ever pressing forward.

Of course, our hero saves the day: when he and Minnie pretend to be the cavalry all the Indians flee.

‘Pioneer Days’ is Mickey’s first of only a few films clearly set in another time period, and thus the precursor of ‘Ye Olden Days‘ and ‘The Nifty Nineties’. The film recycles some footage from ‘The Fire Fighters‘ of two dogs holding a bed to catch falling people.

Watch ‘Pioneer Days’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 24
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Picnic
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Birthday Party

‘Pioneer Days’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: ‘Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date:
 June 20, 1930
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Horace Horsecollar
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

The Fire Fighters © Walt DisneyIn ‘The Fire Fighters’ Mickey is a fire chief who rushes to a burning building, losing almost his complete team on the way.

Together with Horace Horsecollar he rather pitifully tries to extinguish the fire. But he saves the day when he rescues Minnie from the flames.

‘The Fire fighters’ is the first Mickey Mouse cartoons since ‘The Gallopin’ Gaucho‘ to tell a straightforward story. The cartoon is simply packed with gags, which lead to an exciting finale, showing Mickey’s heroic character.

Among Mickey’s team mates is a primitive Horace Horsecollar who is only half anthropomorphized. ‘The Fire Fighters’ is also notable for its use of animals as objects (an ostrich as a pole, a cat as a siren), while objects are very much alive, indeed, most notably the ladder, which is shown sleeping in bed.

The cartoon makes clever use of animation cycles, especially in the scenes depicting the burning building. Some of the gags are quite unique, like Mickey milking a fire hydrant and a ladder that climbs itself down, a gag that has to be seen to be believed.

In all, ‘The Fire Fighters’ is one of the best of the early Mickey Mouse cartoons, and certainly Mickey’s best short of 1930.

Mickey would fighting fire again five years later in the equally inspired ‘Mickey’s Fire Brigade‘ (1935).

Watch ‘The Fire Fighters’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 19
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Cactus Kid
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Shindig

‘The Fire Fighters’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: ‘Mickey Mouse in black and white’

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date:
 March 7, 1931
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Peg Leg Pete
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

raffic Troubles © Walt DisneyIn 1931 Mickey’s cartoons slowly but surely got better. ‘Traffic Troubles’ in particular is a gem, arguably being Mickey’s first great gag cartoon since his first cartoon, ‘Plane Crazy‘ (1928).

In this film Mickey is a cab driver driving an anthropomorphized car, resembling Flip the Frog’s car in ‘The Cuckoo Murder Case’ from five months earlier. His first customer is a fat pig, but he loses his passenger on a road, full of potholes and bumps. Mickey’s horror and surprise when he realizes his customer is gone, is priceless.

Mickey’s second customer is Minnie. When they get a flat tire, Peg Leg Pete makes an odd cameo as ‘Dr. Pep’ who revives Mickey’s car with some kind of potion, with disastrous results. This part leads to a great end scene in which Mickey’s car ends on a cow, rides through a barn, and crashes into a silo.

‘Traffic Troubles’ is a genuine gag cartoon without any songs or dances, but with fast action, plenty of gags building to a grand finale, and spectacular and flexible animation. It also contains a very funny scene in which a police officer asks Mickey many questions while silencing him at the same time. In short, ‘Traffic Trouble’ is arguably the best Mickey Mouse film from 1931, and Mickey’s first really great cartoon since ‘Steamboat Willie‘. But by now the Disney studio was making faster and faster strides, and Mickey’s best cartoons were still to come.

Watch ‘Traffic Troubles’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 26
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Birthday Party
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Castaway

‘Traffic Troubles’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume Two’

Director: Walt Disney
Release Date:
 October 1, 1929
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Mickey's Choo-Choo © Walt DisneyIn ‘Mickey’s Choo-Choo’ Mickey drives an outrageously flexible anthropomorphized locomotive, which is an early ancestor of Casey Junior from ‘Dumbo’ (1941).

He sings ‘I’m working on the railroad‘ and even plays the spaghetti he’s eating, treating it like a harp. Minnie comes along, playing the violin. At this point the cartoon harks back to Mickey’s success cartoon ‘Steamboat Willie‘ (1928), with Mickey playing music on some ducks and a dog.

After this sequence, Minnie rides Mickey’s train to the tune of Yankee Doodle, but on a very steep hill the wagon gets loose and falls backwards with Minnie on it. This sequence contains some wonderful rollercoaster-like perspective gags, reminiscent of the early Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon ‘Trolley Troubles’ (1927).

‘Mickey’s Choo-Choo’ is remarkably fast and full of action. Moreover, it’s the first Disney cartoon to feature real dialogue. However, there’s hardly any plot and Mickey’s and Minnie’s designs are extraordinarily inconsistent, ranging from very sophisticated (with an extra facial line) to downright poor. The result is unfortunately only an average entry in the Mickey Mouse canon.

Watch ‘Mickey’s Choo-Choo’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 11
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Follies
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Jazz Fool

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: September 22, 1944
Stars: Pluto, Figaro, Minnie Mouse
Rating: ★★½
Review:

First Aiders © Walt DisneyAfter a cartoon with Cleo, Pinocchio’s kitten Figaro was coupled to Pluto to co-star in three cartoons, of which ‘First Aiders’ is the first.

In this short both pets want to help Minnie while she’s practicing first aid. Pluto pushes little Figaro away to be the first, a move he regrets when he’s all put in plints and Figaro starts to taunt him.

Even though some of the animation is pretty outlandish, this is a cute, not a funny short. Most interesting are some of the backgrounds, which are kept deliberately vague during the chase scenes. Figaro and Pluto would be together again in ‘Cat Nap Pluto’ (1948) and ‘Pluto’s Sweater’ (1949). Both cartoons are more enjoyable than ‘First Aiders’.

Watch ‘First Aiders’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 12
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Springtime for Pluto
To the next Pluto cartoon: Dog Watch

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date:
 February 10, 1950
Stars:
 Pluto, Minnie Mouse
Rating:
 ★★½
Review:

Pluto and the gopher © Walt DisneyPluto encounters a gopher in Minnie’s garden.

Minnie accidentally brings the gopher inside, where the chase continues, until the gopher is literally launched outside. It’s inside the house where the cartoon blossoms. However, the cartoon remains a little slow, and it is uncertain with whom we have to sympathize, for neither Pluto nor the Gopher is particularly endearing. The best scene is the one in which the gopher discovers that he’s trapped inside a foreign environment. His panic is both funny and heartfelt.

Watch ‘Pluto and the Gopher’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Pluto cartoon No. 34
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Pluto’s Heart Throb
To the next Pluto cartoon: Wonder Dog

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: 
April 29, 1949
Stars:
 Figaro, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating:
 ★★★★½
Review:

Pluto's Sweater © Walt DisneyMinnie has knitted a sweater for a very unwilling Pluto, to much hilarity of Figaro and the neighboring dogs.

While trying to get rid of it, Pluto falls into the water, making the sweater shrink. Minnie is in all tears, when she discovers the sweater is ruined. But wait! This tiny sweater perfectly fits the equally unwilling Figaro! So, Pluto has the last laugh.

This cartoon was to be Figaro’s sixth and last cartoon appearance. It’s undoubtedly one of the funniest Pluto films, if not hilarious. The best part is the long scene in which Pluto tries to get the sweater off. Like in the best Donald Duck cartoons this leads to nonsensical antics with the inanimate object, which deforms almost beyond recognition.

The short’s opening shot is also noteworthy: the film opens with the viewer looking straight into Pluto’s eyes, an effect that goes all the way back to ‘The Skeleton Dance‘ (1929).

Watch ‘Pluto’s Sweater’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://www.toontube.com/video/2746/Plutos-Sweater-1949

This is Pluto cartoon No. 30
To the previous Pluto cartoon: Pluto’s Surprise Package
To the next Pluto cartoon: Bubble Bee

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: October 3, 1947
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Mickey's Delayed Date © Walt DisneyFor the first time in five years (actually, since ‘Symphony Hour’) Mickey receives considerable screen time in his own cartoon, even though he has to share it once again with his dog, Pluto.

In the opening scene ‘Mickey’s Delayed Date’ we watch Mickey snoring at home, when the phone rings. It’s Minnie: she has been waiting an hour for him to come at a date with her for a dance. As soon as she has threatened him on the phone to break up if he doesn’t show up within fifteen minutes, Mickey rushes to the dance hall. Unfortunately he loses the tickets, which are brought by Pluto just in time.

Much screen time of ‘Mickey’s Delayed Date’ is devoted to Pluto in a rather long scene with a humanized tall hat. Nevertheless, it’s nice to watch Mickey in fine comic shape again, although he is less flexible here than in Riley Thomson’s shorts of the early forties. This short contains a shot of an almost naked Mickey (even without gloves).

‘Mickey’s Delayed Date’ was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon directed by Pluto-director Charles Nichols. He would direct five of the eight post-war Mickey Mouse cartoons.

Watch ‘Mickey’s Delayed Date’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 119
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Squatter’s Rights
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey Down Under

Director: Jack King
Release Date: July 30, 1942
Stars: Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Out of the Frying Pan into the Firing Line © Walt Disney‘Out of the Frying Pan into the Firing Line’ is a short propaganda film aimed at American housewives.

In this propaganda short, Minnie is just about to give Pluto some hot bacon grease, when the narrator interrupts, telling housewives of America to save their kitchen fats in order to deliver them at a “neighborhood meat dealer, who is patriotically cooperating”. The fats are apparently used to make glycerine, which is used in ammunition.

This short contains a rare picture of Mickey as a soldier at the front. Otherwise, Mickey was left out of the propaganda, leaving that role to Donald Duck.

‘Out of the Frying Pan into the Firing Line’ is an interesting example of how the American government tried to make every citizen help in the war effort. It shows how World War II entered the life of the average citizen: even kitchen grease could be useful… It offers no one-liner, however, at the likes of the contemporary slogans  ‘Save Your Scraps to Bomb the Japs’ or ‘Is Your Trip Really Necessary?”

Watch ‘Out of the Frying Pan into the Firing Line’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: David Hand
Release Date: June 16, 1934
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, the orphan mice
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Mickey's Steamroller © Walt DisneyTwo of the orphan mice used in ‘Giantland‘ (1933) and ‘Gulliver Mickey’ (1934) appear in this cartoon.

It’s unclear whether these two brats are Mickey’s nephews Morty and Ferdy, who were created by Floyd Gottfredson in the Mickey Mouse comic in 1932, as they’re not named in this short. If they are, this film marks their only screen appearance, for, unlike Donald’s nephews, they don’t appear in any other film. Anyway, as in the comic strip, these two brats are full of mischief.

This time they steal Mickey’s anthropomorphized steam roller, while Mickey’s flirting with Minnie. The two kids manage to destroy a bridge, a streetcar, a complete hotel and the steamroller itself, but in the end Mickey’s not mad at them, just laughing.

‘Mickey’s Steamroller’ is a real gag-cartoon. Yet, it is not particularly funny and it has an old-fashioned feel to it, especially after such elaborate entries in the Mickey Mouse series, as ‘Mickey’s Gala Premier‘ and ‘Giantland‘.

Watch ‘Mickey’s Steamroller’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 67
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Gulliver Mickey
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Orphan’s Benefit

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: September 30, 1933
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Still from 'The Steeple Chase' featuring Mickey, his horse and the colonel in a wheelchairMickey is a jockey in a horse race.

Unfortunately, his horse Thunderbolt gets drunk just before the race starts. So he rides a pantomime horse, with his two black stable boys in it, instead. Remarkably, they win, due to a colony of angry and determined wasps, who chase the two poor black boys to the finish and into the distance, while Mickey receives all the glory.

‘The Steeple Chase’ is one of those ‘adventure type stories’ Mickey began having in 1932, and which were undoubtedly inspired by Floyd Gottfredson’s comic strip. ‘The Steeple Chase’ is a prime example: it shows clear similarities to ‘Mickey Mouse and his horse Tanglefoot‘, which ran about the same time (from June to October 1933). The colonel from ‘The Steeple Chase’ returns in that comic strip as a grumpy judge.

The early scenes firmly state why Mickey should win the race, e.g. when Minnie tells him “you gotta win, Mickey, or you’ll break the colonel’s heart”. Thus we are more involved in the horse race then in Mickey’s boxing game in ‘Mickey’s Mechanical Man‘ from earlier that year. Nevertheless, it remains a fact that Mickey’s actually cheating in both these cartoons, and misusing the two black stable boys while doing so. This makes it rather difficult to sympathize with Mickey. Moreover, the race is hardly as exciting as the one in ‘Barnyard Olympics‘ (1932), and the cartoon is by all means inferior to Gottfredson’s classic comic strip. The best gags come from the numerous ways in which the wasps attack Mickey and his fake horse.

Watch ‘The Steeple Chase’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 60
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Puppy Love
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Pet Store

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: June 17, 1933
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse
Rating:
Review:

Still from 'Mickey's Mechanical Man' featuring a gorilla boxing a robotMickey has build a robot to fight a gorilla in a boxing match, which is called “the battle of the century: machine vs. beast”.

Mickey’s robot has one disadvantage: he runs wild when he hears Minnie’s car horn. Luckily, this fact helps him in the end: when he’s clobbered by the gorilla (on the tune of Franz Liszt’s second Hungarian rhapsody), he seems almost lost. But then Minnie fetches her car horn, revitalizing the robot. From that point he actually cheats, using multiple boxing gloves, a hammer and hits below the belt.

Despite its clear story and high quality animation, ‘Mickey’s Mechanical Man’ is a very weak short, and a low point in the otherwise outstanding Mickey Mouse year of 1933. The cartoon is surprisingly low on gags and it’s difficult to sympathize with the robot character, as it’s mechanical after all, while the gorilla is a living being. Moreover, Mickey’s motives remain unclear and we’re not invited to care about the match.

The cartoon most interesting feat. are the robot’s jerky movements, which are clearly mechanical and based on wind-up toys, but which become rather frantic and ridiculously elaborate when the robot goes wild. Nevertheless, there are some traces of Stan Laurel’s boxing moves from ‘Any Old Port’ (1932).

‘Mickey’s Mechanical Man’ is reminiscent of the Fleischer Studio’s equally weak ‘The Robot‘ (1932). Both films were inspired by rather hysterical stories about robots taking over jobs, which circulated in the early 1930s, and which struck a chord in an era of vast unemployment.

Watch ‘Mickey’s Mechanical Man’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 57
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Mail Pilot
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Gala Premier

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: February 28, 1933
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Still from 'Mickey's Pal Pluto' featuring Pluto and his little devilish self‘Mickey’s Pal Pluto’ shows how important Pluto had become by 1933.

It’s the first cartoon having the sympathetic mutt in its title, and it’s he, not Mickey or Minnie, who’s the real star of this short, arguably making ‘Mickey’s Pal Pluto’ Pluto’s first own cartoon.

In ‘Mickey’s Pal Pluto’ Pluto saves a few little kittens from drowning. Mickey and Minnie take them home, but there Pluto grows jealous of the intruders, exemplified by a conflict between his devilish and angelic sides, who materialize outside him, and who speak in rhyme. Unfortunately, when Pluto listens to his little devil, this leads to Mickey putting him outside. Nevertheless, when the kittens fall into a well, Pluto rescues the kittens from drowning again, almost drowning himself in the act. In the end he’s rewarded for this unselfish behavior with a roast chicken.

The moral clearly is that being good will be rewarded, as Pluto’s angel character clearly states in the end. So some of the childish sentimentality that had entered the Silly Symphonies in 1933 sneaks in to the Mickey Mouse series, as well.

‘Mickey’s Pal Pluto’ marks the first appearance of Pluto’s imaginary little devil and angel, symbolizing his inner conflict. This cartoon was more or less remade in color in 1941, titled ‘Lend a Paw’. Pluto’s little devil would reappear in ‘Mickey’s Elephant‘ (1936).

Watch ‘Mickey’s Pal Pluto’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 53
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Mad Doctor
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Mellerdrammer

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