In this final volume, the homage to Mickey's early career is completed with these shorts. From 1928's "The Barn Dance" to his very last black-and-white short, 1935's "Mickey's Kangaroo," his colorful antics in a black-and-white world propelled him to super-stardom. The Mickey craze touched everybody and everything. In this volume, hear Leonard Maltin and Disney Legend John Hench talk about Mickey's official birthday portraits. Visit an unbelievable collection of Mickey collectibles and rare artifacts. Enjoy period photos, publicity, and animation art from the archives. It's all here plus more in this celebration of the mouse who became a global icon.
By the time "The Barn Dance" (1928), the fourth Mickey Mouse short and the oldest film on this collection, was released, Mickey was well on his way to cartoon stardom. The viewer can see how quickly the Disney animators improved between "The Barn Dance" and "Mickey's Kangaroo" (1935, his last black-and-white film). The characters are so rubbery in "Barn Dance," that when Mickey steps on Minnie's foot, her leg stretches out on the floor. Mickey and Minnie look noticeably more solid by "Mickey's Mechanical Man" (1933). "Playful Pluto" (1934) offers the landmark sequence of Pluto trying to escape from sheet of fly paper: one of the first instances where an animated character actually seemed to think and react to his environment believably. But it's Pluto who gets the laughs--Mickey is already turning into the straight man he eventually became.
The Disney shorts also improved as films during this period. The direction becomes surer, with increasingly imaginative camerawork. If some cartoons look backward, recycling gags from "Steamboat Willie," "The Barnyard Concert" (1929) anticipates "The Band Concert" (1935). In both films, Mickey conducts a group of ragtag musicians in Zampa's "The Poet and the Peasant" Overture, and "Barnyard Concert" feels like a rough sketch for the brilliant "Band Concert," Mickey's first color short.
A few of these films include ethnic imagery that was considered good taste in the early '30s, but is no longer acceptable, as host Leonard Maltin cautions. (Unrated, suitable for ages 6 and older: cartoon violence, tobacco use, ethnic stereotypes) --Charles Solomon