Horace pulls a wagon with a a small pipe organ, with Mickey at the keys; a sign on the side reads "Mickey's Big Road Show." They arrive, and Mickey's suitcase labeled "Jazz Fool" unfolds to... See full summary »
Horace pulls a wagon with a a small pipe organ, with Mickey at the keys; a sign on the side reads "Mickey's Big Road Show." They arrive, and Mickey's suitcase labeled "Jazz Fool" unfolds to a piano, which he plays (and sings about 8 notes). At the end, the piano attacks him. There is no dialogue, aside from the nonsense syllables sung. Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If you'd like to know what made the Disney studio's output so special and stand out so strongly from the rest of the pack, take a look at some of the early Mickey Mouse cartoons from around 1929-30. THE JAZZ FOOL was produced just as Mickey was catching on as a highly popular character, and like so many of the early efforts it's a plot-free, high-spirited romp consisting of non-stop music and dancing. This particular cartoon isn't one of the select few usually ranked among the "classics" by connoisseurs, it's just another release in the ongoing series, but it's a charmer from start to finish which demonstrates just how good the Disney studio's routine product could be.
The show kicks off with a parade: Mickey rolls along on a horse-drawn wagon, playing a goofy tune on a calliope while dozens of animals dance along behind. He's parading through a rural area, inspiring local cows to stop grazing and waltz to the music. Even flannel long johns drop off a clothes-line to join in. When the wagon halts Mickey plays for the gathering crowd, while his horsewho looks like an early version of Horace Horsecollarprovides percussion alternately on a drum, on a local cat who happens to be handy, and then on his own dentures. Once the crowd has gathered in the auditorium Mickey takes the stage looking dapper and self-confident: he wears a top hat, spins a cane, and carries a satchel. First he opens the satchel and it becomes a baby grand piano, then he smoothly turns his hat and cane into a stool. (Mickey seems to possess Felix the Cat-like magical powers in this cartoon.) Seated, he launches into a jaunty melody, and performs some cute musical gags: for instance, when he slams the keyboard several keys fly into the air, and land just in time to complete a melodic phrase.
As the performance continues, however, something interesting happens. Mickey's playing becomes more and more aggressive. He beats time on the side of the piano, then pounds the lid, then starts hammering the keys with his fists, and we gradually become aware that the piano itself is reacting angrily to this treatment. It grimaces, bears its "teeth" at its tormentor, and puts up resistance as the treatment gets rougher. Mickey responds by playing more intensely and actually spitting tobacco juice onto the keys. Finally, striking a masterful lion tamer stance, he beats his adversary into submission for an exhilarating finale. The piano crumples, exhaustedthen, in a surprise finish, it comes back to life and bites the seat of Mickey's pants! This is a great little cartoon, better seen than described. Hardly any words are spoken and none are needed: the progress of Mickey's battle with the baby grand is easily followed, told entirely through witty character animation, music, and sound effects. THE JAZZ FOOL is simplicity itself yet it somehow strikes a deeper chord, like the most memorable scenes in the greatest silent comedies.
P.S. The title of this short is a play on two of Al Jolson's then-recent successes for Warner Brothers, THE JAZZ SINGER and THE SINGING FOOL, but there are no Jolson impressions or specific references to either feature. This cartoon stands on its own, with no topical references to date it.
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