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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’

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Director: Ben Sharpsteen
Release Date: August 1, 1936
Stars: Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, the Orphan Mice, the Little Seal
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Mickey's Circus © Walt DisneyIn ‘Mickey’s Circus’ we watch Mickey and Donald perform in a circus for a pack of orphan mice.

Most of the time goes to Donald and his trained seals. Only after six minutes Mickey joins in again, struggling with Donald on the slack-rope, while being troubled by the orphan mice.

‘Mickey’s Circus’ was the last cartoon to feature the Orphan Mice (apart from the remake of ‘Orphan’s Benefit from 1941), until their unexpected return in ‘Pluto’s party‘ from 1952. It’s also the first Disney short featuring a cute little seal. Similar seals would reappear in ‘Pluto’s Playmate‘ (1941), ‘Rescue Dog‘ (1947) and ‘Mickey and the Seal‘ (1948).

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 87
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Alpine Climbers
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Donald and Pluto

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: November 25, 1933
Stars: Mickey Mouse, The Orphan Mice
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Giantland © Walt DisneyMickey tells the story of Jack and the Beanstalk to his numerous nephews with him in the starring role.

These nephews come out of nowhere, even though they had appeared in ‘Mickey’s Nightmare‘ (1932), where they were, indeed, part of a nightmare. In ‘Giantland’ they’re real alright, and they would star in five other Mickey Mouse cartoons of the 1930s.

In his story Mickey meets the first giant of his career. This giant is very well drawn, with great use of perspective and realistic details, especially in the hands. This must have been the closest the studio could come to the human form in 1933. The cartoon also contains many shadows. Both features are a testimony of Disney’s urge to master more naturalism in his cartoons.

Nevertheless, one can see that the animators were still struggling with such elaborate designs. The giant is not drawn very consistently, and some sequences are more convincing than others. The best and most beautiful scene is when Mickey ends up inside the Giant’s mouth. This is an original scene by all means, and one that could almost only be done in animation.

Notably, the cartoon emphasizes that the story is a fantasy, with Mickey only telling it. Mickey was slowly becoming more settled, and while he’s still the hero of this cartoon, as the years progressed his quieter nature meant that he lost more and more screen time to less timid characters, like Pluto, Donald Duck and Goofy.

Mickey would deal with giants again in ‘Brave Little Tailor’ (1938) and in ‘Fun and Fancy Free’ (1947), a re-telling of the same fairy tale. ‘Gulliver Mickey’ from six months later follows the same story line as ‘Giantland’, but now in reverse, with Mickey himself being the giant, while Floyd Gottfredson retold the story of ‘Giantland’ in his Sunday Mickey Mouse comics from March 11 to April 29, 1934.

Watch ‘Giantland’ yourself and tell me what you think:


This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 62
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Pet Store
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Shanghaied

Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: August 11
, 1934
Stars:
Clara Cluck, Clarabelle Cow, Donald Duck, Goofy, Horace Horsecollar, Mickey Mouse, the Orphan Mice
Rating:
★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Orphan's Benefit © Walt DisneyIn ‘Orphan’s Benefit’ Mickey and the gang are giving a theatrical performance for the orphan mice we know from ‘Mickey’s Nightmare’ (1932) and other cartoons.

We watch Donald Duck reciting ‘Little Boy Blue’, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow and Goofy as acrobats and Mickey and Clara Cluck giving a recital.

‘Orphan’s Benefit’ marks Donald Duck’s second appearance, after his debut in ‘The Wise Little Hen‘ from two months earlier, and his looks are still a bit awkward: he has black feet (because of his transition from color to black and white), an elongated bill and he is very small compared to the rest of the gang. Nevertheless, ‘Orphan’s Benefit’ marks the real birth of Donald Duck: he’s cast outside the Silly Symphonies along Mickey and his co-stars, and he’s really stealing the show. Moreover, for the first time he’s showing his temper and his typical ‘dance of anger’ (created and animated by Dick Lundy).

Besides Donald Duck this cartoon also introduces Clara Cluck, the opera-singing hen. Her career was way less successful than Donald’s: in total she would star in only seven cartoons, and she retired in 1942. Mickey’s role is reduced to a scarcely visible and embarrassingly unfunny straight man. Therefore Orphan’s Benefit marks as much the start of Donald’s career as the beginning of Mickey’s demise.

‘Orphan’s Benefit’ was the only Disney cartoon to be remade. In 1941 it appeared again, now in color and with new designs (especially of Donald Duck).

Watch ‘Orphan’s Benefit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 68
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey’s Steamroller
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Mickey Plays Papa

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