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Mickey Mouse Cartoon Shorts on DVD: Black and White Black and White, Volume Two Living Color Living Color, Volume Two

Mickey Mouse in Living Color Volume 2 DVD Review

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Disc 1: (Click title to view that portion of the review)
Mickey Mouse Shorts
1939: Society Dog Show, The Pointer;
1940: Tugboat Mickey, Pluto's Dream House, Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip;
1941: The Little Whirlwind, The Nifty Nineties, Orphans' Benefit;
1942: Mickey's Birthday Party, Symphony Hour;
1947: Mickey's Delayed Date; 1948: Mickey Down Under, Mickey and the Seal;
1951: Plutopia, R'Coon Dawg; 1952: Pluto's Party, Pluto's Christmas Tree;
1953: The Simple Things

Bonus Material: The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Deleted Animation from The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Mickey and the Beanstalk, Easter Eggs

Disc 2: (Click title to view that portion of the review)
Mickey Mouse Shorts
Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983), The Prince and the Pauper (1990), Runaway Brain (1995)

Bonus Material: "Mickey's Cartoon Comeback", "The Voice Behind the Mouse", Mouse Mania, Mickey Cartoon Physics, On the Camera Stand, "Mickey Meets the Maestro", Mickey Mouse Club Titles, "The Making of Mickey's Christmas Carol", Galleries

Running Time: 348 Minutes (5 hours, 48 minutes) / Rating: Not Rated
Disc One: 205 minutes (135 - shorts, 4 - introductions, 66 - extras)
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Ratio) / Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Originally Released between 1939 and 1995
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned / DVD Release Date: May 18, 2004
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $32.99

REVIEW CONTENTS

Page 1: Disc 1 - Shorts, Audio & Video, and Bonus Features
Page 2: Disc 2 - Shorts, Audio & Video, Bonus Features, and Closing Thoughts


Disney's most recognizable animated character is again the subject of his own 2-disc Limited Edition Walt Disney Treasures tin. This makes the third time, with previous Treasures releases already exploring Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts of color and black & white varieties. Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume Two picks up where the first color volume left off.

The earliest material here is from 1939, a time when Disney had already found success in feature films with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. With Pinocchio and other feature films already in progress and characters like Donald and Goofy growing in popularity, Disney was making fewer cartoon shorts starring the adventuresome mouse.

Nonetheless, Mickey Mouse remained one of the staples of the Walt Disney studio. This first disc of this set contains 18 animated shorts spanning through 1953, as well as segments from two feature film appearances.

Like all Walt Disney Treasures, this set is presented in a double Alpha keepcase and housed in a silver tin. Inside, you'll find a certificate of authenticity, with the number of your indivdiual copy; just 175,000 of Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume 2 sets were produced. An 8-page booklet contains some basic info on Walt Disney common to all Treasures, a list of contents, information on the set by Leonard Maltin, and a pastel sketch from "Symphony Hour." In addition, there is a collectible card which is a color reproduction of the poster art from Fantasia's original release.

DISC 1

The disc opens with an introduction from Leonard Maltin (1:40), in which the film critic and Treasures host discusses the evolution of the character and some of the shorts that you are about to enjoy. You have the choice to Play All in order of release, or you can access individual selections from a list of the 18 shorts, presented both chronologically and alphabetically.

"Society Dog Pluto" "The Pointer" "Pluto's Dream House"

THE SHORTS

Society Dog Show (1939) (8:08)
Mickey enters Pluto into a dog show, and the two are out of place from the get-go. Pluto is in awe of a female dog, and his behavior is not near worthy of a ribbon of any kind. The two are thrown out, but when a fire breaks out, Pluto makes a heroic save of the object of his affection. This is the only short in the set with the old look of Mickey Mouse, most notably the entirely black eyes.

The Pointer (1939) (8:33)
Mickey and Pluto go hunting, and when the dog screws things up, Mickey gets really mad. But Mickey can't stay mad at him, and they give hunting another try. While birds pluck hairs from Pluto, Mickey stirs the wrath of a massive brown bear.

Tugboat Mickey (1940) (7:16)
Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are together on a ship and sustaining misadventures with the boat's ware. The short runs entirely on sight gags, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your tastes.

Pluto's Dream House (1940) (7:54)
As he does any time there's questionable material, Leonard Maltin pops up with an introduction (which can easily be skipped) warning about dialect humor in this short. This entertaining cartoon features a magic lamp which houses a wise-cracking genie inside. The genie proceeds to build a doghouse for Pluto. Things go awry when the genie takes what he hears on the radio as instructions. This short is also on the Escape to Witch Mountain DVD, without the warning.

"Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip" "The Little Whirlwind" Mickey and Minnie in "The Nifty Nineties"

Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip (1940) (7:43)
Maltin again pops up to tell that Mickey's Native American impersonation in this short is not done with malice. Mickey and Pluto are looking to hitch a ride to the Redwood Forest. But train conductor Pete throws them off as part of a "No Dog" policy. They get back on board and try to outwit Pete, in a number of amusing ways.

The Little Whirlwind (1941) (8:34)
Drawn in by the scent of Minnie's cake baking, Mickey offers to clean her yard. Things are going just fine until the title character, a tiny tornado, makes work a bit more challenging for Mickey. They duel, and the little whirlwind comes back with a huge friend.

The Nifty Nineties (1941) (7:29)
Maltin comes on here to let us know that "there is nothing funny about drunkenness." And that the vaudeville film "Father, Dear Father" that Mickey and Minnie watch in this short is making fun of melodramas, not alcoholism. Next is Fred and Ward (an obvious homage to Disney animators Fred Moore and Ward Kimball) who dance and tell jokes. Then Mickey and Minnie go for a ride around town in a primitive motorcar. This short is also on the Pollyanna DVD.

An unruly audience in "The Orphans' Benefit" "Mickey's Birthday Party" Pete as Mr. Macaroni in "Symphony Hour"

Orphans' Benefit (1941) (9:07)
A group of orphans are treated to a benefit concert. Donald Duck bombs trying to reciting poems. Clarabell Cow and Goofy do a dance number that goes wrong and draws laughs. Next, Mickey plays the piano while Madam Clara Cluck clucks. Meanwhile, the audience of orphans gets exceedingly rowdy with Donald.

Mickey's Birthday Party (1942) (7:53)
Minnie and the gang throw a surprise birthday party for Mickey. They give him an organ, which Minnie plays while Mickey dances. Everyone starts dancing, including Goofy while he bakes in the kitchen.

Symphony Hour (1942) (7:31)
In a 27-second introduction, Mr. Maltin again warns about dialect humor and how rather than shelf a cartoon like this, we should watch it and realize "how far we've come today." The Maltin intro (which is skippable) is certainly favorable to redubbing a la "Tom & Jerry." In this case, the content in question is Pete playing Mr. Macaroni, a thick-accented Italian who is sponsoring a symphony orchestra conducted by Mickey. With Mr. Macaroni sitting in the Sponsor's Booth and dreaming of money, Mickey takes the symphony through a successful rehearsal. When the day of the concert arrives, though, Goofy has an elevator mishap and all the instruments are ruined. The Macaroni Symphony Hour is a disaster, and Sylvester Macaroni is not pleased, until he hears the audience's reaction.

"Mickey's Delayed Date" "Mickey Down Under" "Mickey and the Seal"

Mickey's Delayed Date (1947) (6:52)
It's the night of the big dance and Mickey's dozing in his chair. Agitated, Minnie calls and wakes him up. Reminded of his date, Mickey must get ready in a hurry, and Pluto tries to help. Getting there is quite the adventure for Mickey, but he lucks out and gets by with a little help from his dog. A light-hearted, fun little short.

Mickey Down Under (1948) (6:38)
Mickey ventures down to Australia, with Pluto and a red boomerang. While Pluto mixes it up with the boomerang, Mickey taks an egg from a massive ostrich.

Mickey and the Seal (1948) (6:34)
After a day of feeding the seals at the zoo, Mickey is surprised to see that one of them has gone home with him. The baby seal bathes with Mickey, and has Pluto in a mad rush to tell Mickey.

Plutopia (1951) (7:03)
Maltin makes a warning about gunplay in his brief intro to this short. Mickey and Pluto stay in a cabin, where the rules say all dogs must be leashed and muzzled. A frustrated Pluto gets his revenge in his dreams. That cat that took his dinner becomes his personal servant and cook, and Pluto can sit on a royal bed and eat all day long.

"Pluto's Party" "Pluto's Christmas Tree" The last traditional Mickey Mouse short, "The Simple Things"

R'Coon Dawg (1951) (7:05)
Pluto chases a raccoon, who he 'sees' with his nose. That's about all that happens, save for the clever way that the raccoon gets away. This is one of a few shorts in which Mickey's role is small and secondary to his dog.

Pluto's Party (1952) (6:30)
Pluto is excited about his birthday party. Mickey makes him clean up before having any cake. The guests arrive, and give Pluto a present he doesn't expect. There's a round of "Pin the Tail on Pluto" and the guests eat all of Pluto's cake. But Mickey comes to the rescue in a sweet little ending.

Pluto's Christmas Tree (1952) (6:48)
Mickey and Pluto go looking for a Christmas tree, and they encounter Chip and Dale. Little do they know that the tree they cut down is Chip and Dale's home. Mischief ensues between the two chipmunks and Pluto. This short is sometimes edited together with "Mickey's Christmas Carol" (which is on Disc 2) to make for an hour-long TV broadcast. It's a wonderful cartoon bound to put you in the mood for Christmas.

The Simple Things (1953) (7:04)
Mickey and Pluto take a trip to the beach, and as the formula goes, the dog gets into mishaps that he is unable to explain to Mickey. In this instance, it's a testy clam. Then Mickey goes fishing, but seagulls eat all the bait, and just generally spoil the holiday for the duo.

VIDEO & AUDIO

All of the shorts and bonus features are presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen. The credits of some of the Mickey shorts are slightly bordered, so as not to lose any names to overscan. Despite their age, these Mickey Mouse shorts exhibit a first-rate digital presentation. The colors are consistent and vibrant. There are no signs of wear and tear on the print. The transfer is clean and crisp, and there is a remarkable lack of dust or artifacts.

The Dolby Mono audio may be limited, but it does an admirable job recreating the original sound of these cartoons. The age of the audio is a bit more apparent than video, but it's still clear that a decent amount of remastering work went into making these cartoons sound this good.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice Deleted Animation from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" Mickey and the Beanstalk

BONUS FEATURES

The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1940) (10:05)
Originally intended to be a standalone short film, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" wound up becoming arguably the most memorable sequence of Fantasia, Disney's innovative and experimental third feature film. Following a 45-second introduction by Maltin calling this "the pinnacle of Mickey's screen career," the famous segment is presented in its entirety. Set to the Paul Dukas' classical piece, Mickey's use of magic to clean up results in disaster, to the dismay of his master. Unlike the Fantasia DVD's dual 5.1 tracks, the clip is merely Dolby Surround here.

Deleted Animation from The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1:18)
This presents pencil animation of an on-screen version of Mickey's destruction of the broom, which was discarded by the filmmakers. The shadow version that is used in the actual film follows up, and Maltin introduces this feature. This deleted scene can also be found on the now out-of-print Fantasia Anthology 3-disc Collector's set.

Mickey and the Beanstalk (1943) (35:10)
After an intro from Maltin explaining the history of this short, the sequence from Fun and Fancy Free is presented in its entirety. The animated story of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy suffering from hunger is interweaved with live action footage of Edgar Bergen and his ventriloquist dummy Mortimer telling the story to Luana Patten. As perhaps the finest segment of the 5 Anthology features, this cartoon featurette is most enjoyable, and a nice inclusion.

Leonard Maltin introduces a bonus feature Standard Parade for 1939 Walt Disney and Billy Bletcher perform voices of Mickey and Pete

There are two Easter eggs on Disc 1, which can be accessed by highlighting objects on the Main and Bonus menus.

Easter Egg: "Walt Disney's Standard Parade for 1939" (8:12)
Leonard Maltin introduces this promo made by Disney for Standard Oil dealers. It begins with black & white clips dramatizing Walt Disney coming to Hollywood and making it on his own. Then, it runs through Disney's breakthroughs in animated shorts with "Steamboat Willie", "Flowers & Trees", and "The Three Little Pigs" and feature films with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. After rolling off a series of honors bestowed upon Disney, there is a brief color cartoon short, in which some of Disney's famous characters from 1939 parade carrying signs encouraging advertising opportunities. The short reuses animation from Disney's 1932 Academy Awards parade short, which can be seen on Volume 1 of Mickey Mouse in Living Color.

Easter Egg: Walt Disney Performing the voice of Mickey Mouse (11:32)
This black and white clip begins with Billy Bletcher, the voice of Pete, performing a couple of lines again and again. Then it shows Walt Disney himself reading as Mickey Mouse with Bletcher. Even if it's pretty repetitive, it's a real treat seeing Walt really get into the character of Mickey, and the interplay of the two voice actors is entertaining. Then we see Walt doing a line over and over. There are some odd silences in the audio, most often when Walt is saying something other than lines. The dialogue is for the short "Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip."

The disc's menus are simple, but snazzy 4:3 screens with a blue, yellow and red color theme. The main menu, bonus features, and captions selection pages are accompanied by upbeat score selections.

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REVIEW CONTENTS

Page 1: Disc 1 - Shorts, Audio & Video, and Bonus Features
Page 2: Disc 2 - Shorts, Audio & Video, Bonus Features, and Closing Thoughts

Related Reviews
Walt Disney Treasures:
Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume 1 Mickey Mouse in Black and White, Volume 2
Mickey Mouse in Black and White, Volume 1 The Chronological Donald, Volume 1
The Chronological Donald, Volume 2 The Complete Goofy The Complete Pluto, Volume 1
Walt Disney on the Front Lines Disney Rarities Silly Symphonies Walt's Tomorrowland

Other DVDs Featuring Mickey Mouse:
Funny Factory with Mickey Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 1 - Starring Mickey
It's a Small World of Fun! Volume 2 Timeless Tales, Volume One
The Fantasia Anthology Disney Learning Adventures: Mickey's Around the World in 80 Days
Mickey's House of Villains Fun and Fancy Free Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers

Mickey Mouse Cartoon Shorts on DVD: Black and White Black and White, Volume Two Living Color Living Color, Volume Two

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Review posted May 10, 2004.