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When the Disney organization re-released Fantasia to theaters in the
mid-1970s, they included on the bill a black & white Mickey Mouse
cartoon from early talkie days called The Klondike Kid. This six-minute
opus is one of those simple, straightforward affairs in which Mickey
rescues Minnie from the clutches of the dastardly Peg Leg Pete (renamed
"Terrible Pierre" for this Arctic saga). I suppose the rationale for
including the short on the bill, aside from offering a touch of
nostalgia, was to demonstrate how far and how quickly the Disney staff
had advanced in their technical mastery of animation during the eight
years that elapsed between this comparatively primitive item and the
far more sophisticated Fantasia. If that was the intention, however,
then my memory suggests it backfired on them, at least at the screening
I attended. The cartoon short really rocked the house, getting big
laughs throughout and a round of applause when it was over, but when
the feature began it seemed to take people a while to adjust to the
artsier tone and more solemn mood of Fantasia. To some degree I think
the added attraction stole the show, and watching it again now I can
There's a lot of great material packed into this brief cartoon, starting with the perfect mood-setting opening shot of the remote Klondike Bar. Snow is falling as jaunty piano music plays within, but poor Minnie struggles through the snow in thin clothes and a shawl. Inside the place Mickey is at the keyboard, pounding out a jazzy rendition of "Frankie and Johnny" and performing a cute sight gag involving a stein of beer. It's a pretty tough-looking crowd at the Klondike: the drinkers at the bar are mostly grizzled dogs and wolves while, amusingly, the dance hall girls are portrayed as actual pigs. Within a few years (thanks to Will Hays, Joe Breen and that prissy Production Code) the cartoons had to clean up their act just as much as the live-action productions did, and you wouldn't catch Mickey Mouse anywhere near booze, cigars, or wild wild wimmen, but when The Klondike Kid was made all that goody two-shoes stuff was still in the future. In this cartoon you'll see Pluto excitedly sniff a tree, Minnie dangle from a stuffed moose head by her panties, Terrible Pierre shooting a bar patron's pants off, and similarly earthy gags involving chamber pots, etc. Yet somehow smack in the middle of this sordid atmosphere Mickey and Minnie are as sweet as ever, like two incorruptible innocents in the Belly of the Beast; later on, unfortunately, the settings of their adventures would be just as sanitized and G-Rated as their relationship.
Meanwhile, however, this Pre-Code entry is fast-moving, funny, and just a little racy, building nicely in tempo right up to the closing gag, and it exists solely to entertain. This is one of Mickey's best cartoons, and it deserves to be ranked alongside the most satisfying gems produced by Tex Avery and the guys at Warner Brothers's Termite Terrace. (In fact, Avery's 1939 short Dangerous Dan McFoo owes a thing or two to The Klondike Kid.) It's great that Disney's animators went on to develop more sophisticated techniques and produce those unforgettable features, but when watching this freewheeling, fun-for-fun's sake cartoon it's hard to avoid the notion that they lost a little something of value along the way.
The Klondike Kid (1932) is not only my favorite Mickey Mouse short
cartoon, but also my favorite animated short period. There are funnier
cartoons and there are more inventive and aesthetically pleasing ones,
but few have the warmth and feel-good factor of The Klondike Kid.
obviously inspired by Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925), this
short has the same feel of the best of the Little Tramp's adventures.
Mickey and Minnie's relationship has never come across as sweetly as it does here. In the world of the short, they're both lonely souls who find comfort and companionship in each other. That their innocence is contrasted with the seedy atmosphere of the Klondike bar Mickey works in makes the relationship feel more poignant. It really reminds you of a time when Mickey and Minnie were more than merely brands on an overpriced Valentines Day T-shirt.
Unlike his goofier modern incarnation, the Pegleg Pete in this cartoon serves an actual threat (don't get me wrong though, I do love today's sillier Pete as well). When he stalks into the bar with his pistols a-blazing, it makes for a striking effect. Pete shoots the lights out and as he fires at random in the darkness, the room is briefly illuminated by the flickering gunfire. It really stands out and still comes across as a cool effect even today.
Of course, Pete takes a shining to Minnie and kidnaps her, leading to the obligatory climactic chase sequence. There are gags aplenty, all imaginative and funny. The ending shot manages to be emotional as well as amusing.
Much attention is given to Steamboat Willie (1928) and The Brave Tailor (1938), but it is a shame that The Klondike Kid is not often ranked up there with those classics. It certainly deserves it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is difficult to say what my favourite Disney cartoon of all time is,
there are so many contenders for that honour, but if I were to compile
a list of favourites The Klondike Kid would almost certainly be on
there. It has everything you could possibly want for a Disney/Mickey
cartoon and more. The animation is wonderful, crisp, clean and smooth,
with great use of shadings and all the characters are drawn
appealingly. A standout piece of animation was always Pete getting into
a fire/gunfight with everyone in the bar and the lights go out, leaving
only the flashes of light coming from the guns. The opening sequence is
also very effective, the bar and the various groupings of people are
done in a wide shot and there is so much to absorb and like in that one
wide shot. The music has its usual character and the ability to enhance
the action. The dialogue is sweet and fun, and is delivered more
convincingly than most other Disney shorts of the time and before.
Mickey and Minnie come across as very likable and affecting when he tries to warm her up, the bond is instant between them and you actually feel it. The gags are classic, there are plenty of them and they all work, the fight between Mickey and Pete that's hindered by spiral springs is especially well done. The opening sequence alone has much to smile and giggle at also, as well as the bit with the rabbit. The story is great, the bond between Mickey and Minnie really convinces here and while the Mickey-to-the-rescue device is not unfamiliar territory in hindsight what is done with it as fresh, making The Klondike Kid one of the finest cartoons to use it. The characters add much to the short. Mickey is appealing, sympathetic and brave and his facial expressions speak volumes. Pete is a great menacing villain, while Pluto provides some of the laughs just by causing chaos. Minnie is a damsel in distress sort of character, but her quieter and more vulnerable self suggests that she is more than that also.
In conclusion, one of Disney's very finest. Don't miss this one. 10/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an early Mickey Mouse cartoon produced by the Disney studio.
There will be spoilers ahead:
This is an example of Disney at its creative best, at least for the time. Disney would set new highs in the future, but this is one of their best.
This is a melodrama, set in the frozen wastes (cue Robert W. Service). Mickey is playing piano at the Klondike Bar. There's a beautiful bit of animation with a glass of beer on the piano. The crowd in the bar is singing and dancing, including proto-Goofy, who is dancing with a pig.
Mickey sees Minnie outside the window and rescues her from the cold. This begins a very warm and tender sequence between our hero and heroine. There are a couple of posters which lend some foreshadowing of what's to come. Mickey cheers Minnie up and feeds her.
Suddenly, Pegleg Pete (aka "Terrible Pierre") enters and all hell breaks loose. He spies Minnie, puts Mickey out of the way, wrecks the joint, scares almost everyone and flees with Minnie on a dog-sled.
Mickey gives chase, with Pluto pulling his sled. There are several excellent animated bits, most notably some owls on a tree. Mickey winds up separated from Pluto and on skis. Pete gets to his cabin, followed by Mickey.
There's some great gags and animation in the fight scene between Mickey and Pete, including the standard chamberpot gag. Pluto has an encounter with a totem pole and actually winds up in a mess which ultimately saves the day. The ending is cute, funny, tender and charming.
This short is available on the Disney Treasures Mickey Mouse In Black and White, Volume One DVD set and it and the set are well worth getting. Most highly recommended.
A Walt Disney MICKEY MOUSE Cartoon.
A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Klondike Bar's saloon, when Peg-leg Pete arrived out of the Arctic blast to kidnap poor waif Minnie from the arms of THE KLONDIKE KID.
Inspired by Robert W. Service's famous poem - `The Shooting of Dan McGrew' - this is a splendid little black & white film full of humor and action. Mickey gets to show-off his talents as a ragtime pianist, while an early version of Goofy makes a brief appearance dancing with a piggy hostess & Pluto acts as Mickey's single sled dog. Typically, the animators subject helpless Minnie to a rather cruel panties gag. Walt Disney provides Mickey's squeaky voice.
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.
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