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A Walt Disney MICKEY MOUSE Cartoon.
Although rundown and practically decrepit, you can still expect an evening of lively entertainment at Mickey's OPRY HOUSE.
This is an energetic little film, without dialogue, the very minimal plot being driven by the visuals & soundtrack (music mavens will recognize "Yankee Doodle," "Pony Boy" and snatches from Bizet's Carmen). Although a poster on the building's exterior promises Minnie as part of the Yankee Doodle Girls, she never appears. Instead, the belly dancer doing the vigorous hootchy-kootch turns out to be Mickey, who ends his performance with an unfortunate Jewish caricature. Mickey then closes the film with a forceful impersonation of Polish pianist Ignace Jan Paderewski.
Walt Disney (1901-1966) was always intrigued by drawings. As a lad in Marceline, Missouri, he sketched farm animals on scraps of paper; later, as an ambulance driver in France during the First World War, he drew figures on the sides of his vehicle. Back in Kansas City, along with artist Ub Iwerks, Walt developed a primitive animation studio that provided animated commercials and tiny cartoons for the local movie theaters. Always the innovator, his ALICE IN CARTOONLAND series broke ground in placing a live figure in a cartoon universe. Business reversals sent Disney & Iwerks to Hollywood in 1923, where Walt's older brother Roy became his lifelong business manager & counselor. When a mildly successful series with Oswald The Lucky Rabbit was snatched away by the distributor, the character of Mickey Mouse sprung into Walt's imagination, ensuring Disney's immortality. The happy arrival of sound technology made Mickey's screen debut, STEAMBOAT WILLIE (1928), a tremendous audience success with its use of synchronized music. The SILLY SYMPHONIES soon appeared, and Walt's growing crew of marvelously talented animators were quickly conquering new territory with full color, illusions of depth and radical advancements in personality development, an arena in which Walt's genius was unbeatable. Mickey's feisty, naughty behavior had captured millions of fans, but he was soon to be joined by other animated companions: temperamental Donald Duck, intellectually-challenged Goofy and energetic Pluto. All this was in preparation for Walt's grandest dream - feature length animated films. Against a blizzard of doomsayers, Walt persevered and over the next decades delighted children of all ages with the adventures of Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi & Peter Pan. Walt never forgot that his fortunes were all started by a mouse, or that simplicity of message and lots of hard work always pay off.
I don't think "The Opry House" is as good as "Steamboat Willie", and
the plot is rather minimal. But there is a lot to enjoy. The animation
is very well done, the black and white colouring looks beautiful and
the character features are convincing. Instead of dialogue, the cartoon
is driven primarily by its music, and here the music is marvellous.
Hearing "Yankee Doodle" was fun enough but hearing extracts of Bizet's
"Carmen" was an absolute delight, as I love that opera.
And Mickey? Great as always. Along with the music, he steals the show with an exciting Hookey-Kootch, and then a pretty darn impressive Pedrewski impression. Overall, is it Mickey's best? Not quite, but I like it very much. 9/10 Bethany Cox
FOLLOWING THE COURSE set early on in the history of Walt Disney
Studios, this MICKEY MOUSE starring vehicle has a distinctively rural,
rustic and small town flavor to it. The setting is basically a barn and
both the participants as well as the patrons.
DURING THIS SAME period, Mickey was much more the little con man and smart Alec. The character was consciously putting us on and did the same to the paying guests of his billed Vaudeville Show. Most of the "acts" presented were done by him; while he posed as being a Snake Charmer, a Concert Pianist and whatever else. He was even theatre manager, stage hand and ballyhoo man.
THE STYLE OF the day was still that of a newspaper/magazine cartoon's coming to life. Although the gags are both charming and amusing, they are much more akin to the silent film format. Being that sound was still a newly established format, the similarity is both natural and a plus for the studio. This reliance on sight gags allowed the small movie houses, which had not the wear with all to purchase sound systems and projectors, to be able to exhibit films like this without benefit of soundtrack.
LISTED AS THE Director is Ub Iwerks, long time Disney ally whose tenure with Walt dating back to the Kansas City days. Mr. Iwerks was a very talented artist, animator and innovative gag man. He would leave the Disney shop and set up his own cartoon studio the following year. He also returned to the fold and remained so for the rest of his career.
IN CONCLUSION, WE must say that THE OPRY HOUSE may well be both an example of Mickey as a work in progress; as well as being a futuristic example of what was to come.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an early Disney short featuring Mickey Mouse. There will be
Mickey runs an "opry house", which is basically a musically oriented vaudeville house. This is a low-end musical house, with Mickey doing most of the acts. There's a funny, if predictable gag involving a rather large patron trying get through the front door.
There's a third-rate snake charming act and Mickey as a kootch dancer. Music drives the cartoon as opposed to, say, a plot, mostly because sound was still quite new and Disney, like everyone else, was striking while the iron was hot.
The best part of the cartoon has Mickey playing the piano in a classical mode, caricaturing Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a well known concert pianist whom most in the audience would recognize. The piano and Mickey's stool have their own ideas and the stool is quite a ham.
This short is available on the Mickey Mouse In Black and White, Volume Two of the Disney Treasures DVD sets and is well worth seeking out. Recommended.
In this cartoon short, Mickey Mouse is running an opera house--though
it's really more like a cabaret where various song and dance numbers
are played for the audience. As for Mickey, he has assorted
duties--such as pushing huge customers (like the hippo) into the
show--one way or another.
I agree with one of the other reviewers who said that this cartoon has minimal plot compared to other early Mickey Mouse cartoons. Despite this, it still is quite fun and stands up reasonably well today. However, I think it's best if seen by someone who appreciates classic cartoons and doesn't mind that this one is in black & white and has, compared with today, relatively simple animation. Compared to other early Mickey cartoons, however, this one is certainly not among the better ones and is most average.
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