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A Walt Disney MICKEY MOUSE Cartoon.
MICKEY PLAYS PAPA - with assistance from Pluto -to Baby Elmer, a foundling who's been left on his doorstep and absolutely will not stop whimpering.
This is a very enjoyable little black & white film, which begins with some good suspense and quickly dissolves into comedy. The Mouse performs excellent impersonations of Charlie Chaplin & Jimmy Durante (it's interesting to note that while 'Durante' delights the wee nipper, the Little Tramp merely bores him...). 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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a black and white Mickey Mouse cartoon from the Disney studio.
There will be spoilers ahead:
The cartoon starts out with some great night scenes, making it look as though this will be a suspense/thriller type of cartoon. The opening shot is great and the use of shadows is excellent, which is the norm for Disney shorts of the period.
Mickey is inside reading a spooky story, which further creates the impression that this is a suspense cartoon-until you learn that what's happening on screen is that someone is leaving a child on Mickey's doorstep.
The baby (named Elmer, as a note left with the basket in a touching scene) cries out, which of course terrifies Mickey and Pluto. There follows a great scene of Mickey and Pluto, shaking in their shoes as they investigate the noise. They finally meet young Elmer and attempt to cheer him up, but Elmer is having none of it, screaming even louder. Mickey tries to entertain Elmer by doing an impersonation of Charlie Chaplin, which bores little Elmer.
The attempts to curry Elmer's favor devolve into a comedy of errors, as both Mickey and Pluto coming to grief because they're trying to amuse Elmer. The resolution of Mickey's problem leads to pleasing Elmer with an impersonation of Jimmy Durante, which Elmer eats up with a spoon. Go figure.
This short is available on the Disney Treasures Mickey Mouse In Black and White, Volume Two and is worth looking for. Recommended.
Disney was a big part of my childhood and I do enjoy Mickey and Pluto, individually and together. Mickey Plays Papa is one of their finest examples of them together. What really impressed me was that it never felt routine, there are turns that are well done and we don't expect. For instance, the beginning has a lot of suspense and has a very mysterious/ghostly feel. Then we delve into the more comedic parts, where we have Pluto doing some of his best ever work right from swallowing a duck toy to ending up inside a trunk, these were imaginative and very well timed. The characters are wonderful, Pluto is cute, energetic and is a comic joy here, the baby is very cute but not cloyingly so and Mickey is suitably likable with an inspired Jimmy Durante impression at the end(his Charlie Chaplin attempt to stop the baby crying likewise). The music is beautifully matched with the action and adds so much character to it, but other than the gags and the opening it was the animation that was the outstanding asset. The opening scene is dark and moody in colour and shades which compliment the suspenseful mood perfectly, while the characters are some of the most rounded of any of the character designs for any of the Mickey Mouse cartoons of that particular era. The stranger's shadows creeping around Mickey's house are surprisingly realistic and has always given me goosebumps. All in all, simply fantastic. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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