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Mickey's Mellerdrammer (1933)

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Mickey Mouse and his friends perform "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

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Title: Mickey's Mellerdrammer (1933)

Mickey's Mellerdrammer (1933) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Cast

Uncredited cast:
...
Clarabelle Cow (voice) (uncredited)
...
Horace Horsecollar (voice) (uncredited)
Pinto Colvig ...
Goofy (voice) (uncredited)
...
Mickey Mouse (voice) (uncredited)
Marcellite Garner ...
Minnie Mouse (voice) (uncredited)
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Storyline

Mickey Mouse and his friends perform the play 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' for a packed house. The gang dresses for their roles backstage, then Mickey and Minnie Mouse go on to enthusiastic applause. Horace Horsecollar is met with similar enthusiasm in his role as Simon, but the audience turns on him by throwing produce at the stage when the actor portrays the villain too convincingly. In the next scene, Clarabelle Cow plays Eliza crossing the ice while Goofy and the rest of the troupe create storm effects backstage. Various dogs are dressed in bloodhound costumes to "chase" Eliza, but when the pups find a cat in their midst, they chase it instead, wreaking havoc on the theater. Written by Melissa

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 March 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ett resande teatersällskap  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the plot the play "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is the "melodrama" that is being presented, thus the title. See more »

Quotes

Horace: [as Simon Legree] Bow down to your master! I own your body and soul!
Mickey Mouse: [as Uncle Tom] You may own this body, but my soul belongs to the Lord!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Epic Mickey (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Dixie
Written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hey kids, let's put on a show in the old barn! (And bring some burnt cork . . . )
26 August 2005 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

This is no ordinary Mickey Mouse short. In Mickey's Mellerdrammer the star player and his friends stage their own production of Harriet Beecher Stowe's hugely popular anti-slavery saga "Uncle Tom's Cabin," so right away you know this is a cartoon of special historical interest, and one that treads in highly sensitive territory.

During the 19th century there were numerous stage versions of Stowe's novel being performed nationwide, the most popular being the one written by George L. Aiken (1830-1876). This adaptation was a good old-fashioned barn-stormer featuring one-dimensional characters, flowery dialog, melodramatic excess, and exciting spectacle. The show premiered in 1852 and was still touring the provinces a half-century later, long after the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Even rural folk who were inclined to regard the theater with disapproval were familiar with pious old Uncle Tom, wicked Simon Legree, fun-loving Topsy and the angelic Little Eva, and generations of Americans thrilled to the climactic flight of Eliza across the ice floes, pursued by bloodhounds. There was more to the play than spectacle, however. Stowe's novel was a major influence on anti-slavery sentiment in the U.S., and the play spread the word further. Times and public taste changed rapidly as the 20th century rolled on, but even as late as the 1930's many older American still cherished memories of seeing "Uncle Tom's Cabin" on stage. I don't know if Walt Disney was among those who saw the show as a child-- although I'd be surprised if he didn't --but in 1933 he and his animators devised this nostalgic tribute to the experience. In Mickey's Mellerdrammer Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Goofy, and the gang present their own budget-challenged rendition of the show for a raucous crowd in a barn converted into a theater for the occasion.

In this context there's no point in discussing Political Correctness; this, after all, is a cartoon that opens with Mickey and Clarabelle Cow in their dressing rooms applying black-face makeup for their roles. You'll have to decide for yourself whether this cartoon is something you're comfortable watching. From the purely historical point of view this film gives modern day viewers a latter-day perspective (i.e. that of the early 1930s) on a popular entertainment phenomenon that had already spanned eight decades, a phenomenon of considerable socio-political significance. Lincoln himself joked that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" started the war. Even in such a brief and light-hearted treatment as it receives here, the material has weight. We witness something that goes back much further in time than the '30s, something meaningful that packs a lot more emotional heft than a routine movie of the period, certainly more than the average cartoon. In any case, we don't see much of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" itself. A couple of Aiken's famous lines are quoted, but the filmmakers were more interested in the strenuous efforts of the actors and the backstage crew to put on the show against all odds, and in the uninhibited response of the audience. There are lots of good gags, mostly based on the ragtag production values of the show staged by Mickey and his pals: the sets are makeshift, field hands are played by wooden cut-outs, and even the bloodhounds are fake. Theater buffs will enjoy such devices as the offstage horse whose galloping is suggested by rhythmic drumming, the cardboard "ice floes" operated by bicycle pedals, thunder mimicked by potatoes rolling across an inverted wash-tub, etc. Other bits are more typical of gags found in old cartoons, such as the patron asked to remove his large hat who reveals an even larger head of hair.

This film is available in a DVD set of black & white Mickey Mouse cartoons, where it was placed with several others in a separate section called "From the Vaults" containing works of a controversial nature. The officials of the current Disney organization who okay'd the release of Mickey's Mellerdrammer deserve thanks, for this film has genuine historical value and shouldn't be suppressed. Anyone with an interest in American history, race relations, and the 19th century stage will likely find it of interest. Not to mention cartoon buffs, of course!


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