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While I wouldn't call it my favorite Mickey Mouse cartoon, THE MAD
DOCTOR is a genuinely impressive piece of work, a dazzling display of
what Disney animators could accomplish within the six-minute,
black-and-white format. It's hard to believe that this was made only
five years after Mickey's debut, for where those early adventures of
the 1920s have the crude look of a flip-book, this cartoon demonstrates
sophisticated technique in every department, from the draftsmanship to
the editing, voice work, and that perennial Disney specialty: the use
of music. All of these techniques are deftly combined to put our
heroes, Mickey and his dog Pluto, into a terrifying situation that
evokes childhood fears with the intensity of a nightmare. This isn't my
favorite cartoon because I find the macabre atmosphere all too well
realized to watch with undiluted pleasure, but I certainly admire the
technique on display.
The very first shot sets the tone with ruthless efficiency: a storm is howling and we see dark clouds, branches blowing wildly, lightning flashing, a small house in the distance and a dog house in the foreground where Pluto is sleeping peacefully. Cut to Mickey in his bed as the lightning flashes and thunder crashes, and then we hear Pluto howling and evil laughter in the yard. Mickey looks outside, and we see Pluto's house upended as a sinister hooded figure drags him away on a chain. Mickey plunges into the storm and takes off in pursuit. The hooded figure drags Pluto across a narrow bridge, high above a moat, to a castle on a skull-like island. (Hollywood inside joke: the castle's knocker identifies the owner as "Dr. XXX," a reference to a then-current horror film with a similar title starring Lionel Atwill.) Once inside, Mickey encounters bats, shadowy figures, and skeletons who hurl their own heads at him.
Mickey's misadventures with the skeletons are creepy in a traditional, Halloween-y sort of way, but for me what makes this cartoon really disturbing are the scenes in the castle involving Pluto. There's a startling shot of the dog writhing as the hooded figure carries him into his laboratory, and then Pluto is strapped into an electric chair-like device alongside a long-suffering, sobbing chicken. Pluto's captor then throws off his hood and reveals himself as a bearded 'Mad Doctor' with a taste for eccentric gene-splicing experiments. Using a graphic diagram to illustrate what's about to happen, the villain announces his evil intentions in rhyme as the dog squirms. There's a particularly nasty shot of the doctor slicing Pluto's shadow in half while the dog watches in horror.
I guess it goes without saying that things work out alright for Mickey and Pluto in the end, but squeamish viewers would no doubt prefer to see the happy ending come a bit sooner. As it stands, we have only a few moments at the fade-out to bask in our sense of relief. THE MAD DOCTOR is a must for animation buffs, but I'm not kidding when I say that I'm glad I didn't see it until I was an adult, because if I'd seen this movie as a kid I would've had nightmares for a long time afterward.
This is a fascinating cartoon-sort of a cross between Skeleton Dance and the much later Brave Little Tailor. A dramatic, rather scary short in spots, with some incredible visuals throughout, but most particularly a long scene set in a tunnel. Disney did some exceptional work in the early 1930s and the quality is still clearly evident even some 70 years later. There is apparently a computer-colorized version skulking about. I haven't seen it and, to judge by the colorized early Mickey Mouse black and whites that I have seen, I hope I never have it inflicted on my retinas. Part of the scariness here is the use of shadows in the black and white background. Colorizing this lessens the impact of those shadows. Excellent cartoon with an early appearance by Pluto. Well worth watching. Recommended.
I can recall only seeing this once on tv some 30 years ago & was a rarity amongst Disney's early output/ This is no Silly Symphony and has a particular interest in that it was given a very limited release in the UK for one good reason - it has the rare distinction in the history of animation of having the then censor's new "H" for horror clapped on it (noone under 16 years admitted irrespective of the programmes). Disney's best children's later attractions as Snow White,Dumbo, Pinnochio & Fantasia had their darker moments of terror which gave the then censor some problems(unlike today!).Hence,like the later Wizard of Oz Snow White was initially given the "A" certificate before going on General Release when it was then changed to the Universal cert unlike Wizard which was never changed. Ever since The Skeleton Dance, ol'Uncle Walt like Hitchcock took secret glee in the anxiety element. Perhaps that there Big Bad Wolf in the 3 Little Pigs was not so far from The Wolf Man! Boo!
For me, this cartoon illustrates why Disney has the edge over the other
animation companies it has a lot of heart. In The Mad Doctor, Mickey
Mouse tries to save his dog, Pluto, from an evil scientist who wants to
conduct a life-ending experiment on Pluto. Through the short, you feel for
the characters and are actually concerned for them.
The cartoon is very well drawn despite it only being in black and white. Disney animators use this limitation to their advantage with great shading and lighting effects. You even get a sense that you're looking at an old horror flick. The gags are great too, especially seeing what Pluto goes through when he's scared by the doctor. But by far the best part of this cartoon is the ending. It's both surprising, slightly scary, and heartwarming. This cartoon is a bright spot in the early days of an inspirational and innovative enterprise.
My IMDb Rating: 10/10
This cartoon has some pretty weird, spooky stuff - a dark side you would never see in later Mickey Mouse cartoons. Unless your four-year-old can handle a mad doctor threatening to cut Mickey's head off, steer him clear of this one. For adults, though, it's quite original.
This has to be one of the best Mickey-Pluto cartoons. It is quite dark for a Disney Silly Symphony, with some parts scaring me as a kid(such as Pluto's heart being at his throat). As a young adult I still enjoy it while admiring its technical values. The story is simple, but still manages to be engaging with a lot of suspense. The animation is just fantastic, the black/dark and white/light shades are some of the best I've seen, helping at times to give some depth to Mickey's design as he enters the Mad Doctor's castle. I also loved the animation for the catacombs, recalling Egyptian Melodies, and the skeletons that Mickey has a constant battle with, imaginatively animated and very expressive even for skeletons. Mickey has more depth animation-wise than he has ever had before and is as likable as ever, Pluto is cute and energetic and the Mad Scientist immediately makes an impact by how frightening he is. The gags are clever, the creatures are suitably creepy and the cartoon goes at a terrific pace. Overall, while some MAY find themselves cheated by the "it's all a dream" ending, this cartoon is an absolute must see for Disney and animation fans. 10/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Mad Doctor" was considered by many to be very dark for a Disney
short. The character of the Mad Doctor is quite creepy himself, and him
trying to kill Mickey with a saw truly shows his evilness. But I'm not
saying all of this is bad. This is actually part of why I love this
short so much.
Now I am a HUGE fan of golden-age cartoon shorts. And of course, some of the best of these classic cartoons come from Disney. I truly think "The Mad Doctor" is one of the best Mickey Mouse cartoons. It's dark, spooky and kind of eerie, but that just adds to how great this short really is. It's in black and white of course, since color wasn't very common in 1933, but the animation in this short is fantastic. Like other classic Mickey shorts, this one has a very rubbery feel to the animation, and that was really cool. The animation is just done so perfectly in this short, I can't find a single fault in it.
The plot of this short is about Pluto being captured by an evil doctor who plans to attach Pluto's head to the body of a chicken. Mickey goes to the scary castle to rescue Pluto.
Even the story of this short is kind of dark. Still, Ithis was a great cartoon. Sure it may frighten small children, but at least it has a happy ending.
"The Mad Doctor" is one of the best classic Mickey Mouse cartoons. It's dark, spooky, eerie, and kind of creepy, but it has great animation, an original, well-written story, and is very fun and enjoyable to watch.
Rating: 9/10 "Excellent"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mickey is in bed when he hears some noise outside--a mad scientist has
stolen Pluto! And, when you see this nut back in his lair, you see that
he's abducted other animals on which to experiment! Obviously this is
NOT your typical Mickey Mouse cartoon!! So, Mickey springs into action
and runs to the castle--where he encounters skeletons and other ghastly
creatures. However, by the end of the cartoon, all is right and poor
'ol Pluto is just fine!
The print for this one is very poor--and in need of restoration. Perhaps the Disney folks haven't done this because it's such a dark and potentially disturbing cartoon. As for me, the more disturbing the better! After all, by the 1940s and 50s, Mickey was a wimp and I liked the darker and more morally ambiguous Mickey cartoons as they had a sharp edge--and none sharper than "The Mad Doctor"!
A Walt Disney MICKEY MOUSE Cartoon.
Brave Mickey tracks THE MAD DOCTOR who has kidnapped Pluto to a spooky old castle of horrors.
This fascinating little black & white film was considered so frightful and inconsistent with other Mouse cartoons, it was hidden away for decades in the Disney vaults. Heavily influenced by the horror films of the early 1930's, there are some truly eerie moments as stalwart Mickey searches the castle and must deal with the dangerous skeletons that follow him, while poor Pluto is strapped down in the laboratory and threatened with a hideous fate by the deranged Doctor. Besides the plot, the animation is excellent, with the artists getting to entertain the viewers with intriguing experiments in light & shadow. Walt Disney supplies 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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