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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.
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.
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
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