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Mickey Mouse Cartoon Shorts on DVD: Black and WhiteBlack and White, Volume TwoLiving ColorLiving Color, Volume Two

Mickey Mouse in Living Color DVD Review

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Disc 1: 14 Mickey Mouse Shorts (Click title to view that portion of the review)
1935: The Band Concert, Mickey's Garden, On Ice, Pluto's Judgement Day, Mickey's Fire Brigade;
1936: Thru the Mirror, Mickey's Circus, Mickey's Elephant, Mickey's Grand Opera, Mickey's Polo Team, Alpine Climbers, Moving Day, Mickey's Rival, Oprhans' Picnic

Bonus Material: Parade of the Award Nominees, Pencil Tests, Easter Egg

Disc 2: 12 Mickey Mouse Shorts (Click title to view that portion of the review)
1937: Hawaiian Holiday, Moose Hunters, The Worm Turns, Magician Mickey, Mickey's Amateurs, Clock Cleaners, Lonesome Ghosts;
1938: Mickey's Parrot, Boat Builders, The Whalers, Mickey's Trailer, Brave Little Tailor

Bonus Material: "Mickey in Living Color", Galleries, Video & Audio; Closing Thoughts

Running Time: 217 Minutes (3 hours, 37 minutes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Ratio) / Dolby Digital Mono (English)
Originally Released between 1935 and 1938
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned / DVD Release Date: December 4, 2001
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $32.99


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

Review by David Willis


Disc Two picks up at the start of 1937 and continues to take us on a journey through Mickey’s career to the close of 1938. Again, a Play All option is present and, alternatively, the shorts can be individually selected by year.

Minnie struts her stuff in "Hawaiian Holiday." Goofy and Donald try to lure a moose in "Moose Hunters." "The Worm Turns" sees Mickey try his hand at concocting potions.


Hawaiian Holiday (1937) (8:23)
The Fab Five take a trip to Hawaii. Down on the beach, Mickey strums his guitar while Minnie and Donald dance, only Donald dances a bit too close to the fire. Meanwhile Goofy tries surfing, naturally without much success, and Pluto has his own troubles with a couple of the beach’s inhabitants.

Moose Hunters (1937) (8:38)
With Donald and Goofy disguised as a female moose (complete with golden curls), Mickey conceals himself as a bush on stilts. While one moose becomes attracted by the perfume arising from the mock moose, Mickey finds another who appears content on eating his foliage. Trouble brews when the two male moose spot each other.

The Worm Turns (1937) (7:45)
Mickey is working hard in his lab on a potion to build courage. He tries his creation out on a fly trapped in a spider’s web, and in no time the fly ends up showing the spider who is boss. Next, he tries his potion out on a mouse who is being chased by a cat (Ponder the implications of Mickey having mice in his kitchen.), and again the mouse fights back and sends the cat running. The cat then has the misfortune of running into Pluto and again Mickey uses his concoction to allow the cat to fight back, however the scared Pluto goes running right into the hands of dogcatcher Pete. This is another of the more stunning shorts on the set.

Magician Mickey (1937) (7:34)
Mickey takes to the stage with his tricks, only a certain loud-mouthed Duck in the audience is insistent on voicing his opinion. However he tries to cause trouble, Mickey takes it all in his stride and he has more than enough tricks up his sleeve to make the duck pay.

The Two Claras take a bow in "Mickey's Amateurs." Mickey, Donald and Goofy can't seem to stop wiggling those hips in "Clock Cleaners." Goofy checks out his reflection in "Lonesome Ghosts."

Mickey’s Amateurs (1937) (8:25)
On Mickey’s radio show, contestants have to keep the audience entertained, or they get yanked from the stage. Unfortunately Donald’s recital of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star doesn’t go down too well, despite the number of time he attempts it.
Other (more successful) acts on the bill are the two Claras (Cluck and Belle) who make up a singing / piano playing duo, and Goofy with his 50-piece one-man band.

Clock Cleaners (1937) (8:29)
In this, perhaps the best-known Mickey, Donald, and Goofy cartoon of all, cleaning the clock tower proves to be a problematic chore for our three heroes. Donald struggles to clean the main spring, while Mickey can’t get rid of a stork that has taken roost on part of the clock’s internal workings. As Goofy tries to clean the bell, he is struck on the head by the mechanical figure that rings the bell, and he dizzily stumbles along the ledges of the tower, high above the city streets below.

This short has the misfortune of being one of the few inclusions to the Treasures series that is edited. On the original soundtrack, during Donald’s argument with the spring he says “Says you?”, to which the spring replies “Says I.” Donald Wildmon, notorious protestor and founder of the American Family Association, believed that Donald was actually saying a different four-letter word beginning with an "f", and was successful in convincing Wal-Mart to remove all copies of the VHS containing this short from store shelves. I personally can not see how anyone could make the mistake, even if someone struggled to understand Donald’s precise words; the fact that the spring replies “Says I” makes it clear what the dialogue was. Nonetheless, the original dialogue was substituted with Donald saying “Aww, nuts”, taken from another short and not very skillfully as Pluto can clearly be heard barking when Donald now speaks. The substituted dialogue now means, of course, that the conversation makes no sense. The omission of the original version is more likely the result of carelessness than an executive decision to include the edited version. This scene can be found with its original dialogue on the Alice in Wonderland: Masterpiece Edition DVD.

Lonesome Ghosts (1937) (8:48)
Four bored ghosts inhabiting a deserted house call the Ajax ghost exterminators for a bit of fun. The mischief begins as soon as Mickey, Donald, and Goofy arrive to tackle the spooky specters. As the three ghost hunters separate, the ghouls tackle them one by one, spooking, confusing and annoying them. Another of the more famous shorts on this set, this one became the blueprint for many of the shorts in the late-'90s character/format revival "Mickey Mouse Works."

Mickey’s Parrot (1938) (7:38)
On a stormy night, a parrot topples from the back of a truck right in front of Mickey’s yard. Inside, Mickey is in bed listening to the radio, when a newsflash informs them that Machine-Gun Butch is on the loose. When noises are heard coming from the basement, Mickey plucks up all his courage and ventures down there to tackle the villain.

Mickey, Donald and Goofy get that sinking feeling in "Boat Builders." Sailor Mickey gets confused by a bucket in "The Whalers." I wonder who's driving "Mickey's Trailer"...

Boat Builders (1938) (7:20)
Mickey, Donald, and Goofy try their hand at assembling their own boat from a folding boat company, which they affectionately name Queen Minnie. As Mickey struggles with the steering wheel, he causes problems for Donald who is trying to paint the rudder. Goofy has problems of his own after he takes a liking to the beautiful mermaid figurehead. With the boat complete, Minnie arrives to christen the vessel, but will it remain in one piece?

The Whalers (1938) (8:16)
As Donald sits in the crows’ nest watching out for whales, he tries to have a snack, only the seagulls are intent on stealing his sandwich and below Mickey can’t seem to get a bucket of water to throw itself overboard. When Donald finally catches a glimpse of a whale, who else is left in charge of firing the harpoon but Goofy? The last few scenes of the short feature a whale that bears a resemblance to Monstro, and a chase that is similar to that found in the climax of Pinocchio.

Mickey’s Trailer (1938) (7:45)
Hitched to a Goofy-driven car, Mickey’s Trailer hits the road. As Mickey tries to cook breakfast using ingredients he snatches through the window, Donald wakes up and at the push of a button, Mickey changes the bedroom into a bathroom where Donald cleans himself up before all disappears again and a table emerges. Goofy abandons the wheel to fill his belly and upon scrambling back to regain control of the car, he accidentally unhooks the trailer, which goes on a journey all of its own.

Brave Little Tailor (1938) (8:58)
In a town that lives in fear of a giant, Mickey the humble tailor is plagued by flies. When he kills seven "giants" in his workshop, it leads to a misunderstanding and soon Mickey is before the king being asked to tell his tale. When it becomes clear to Mickey that they want him to kill a real giant, he is less than enthusiastic, but the promise of Princess Minnie’s hand soon changes his mind. Mickey sets off to bring down the countryside-rampaging giant, equipped with wit in place of size. One of the few short subjects that went beyond the notion of simply making a few laughs out of various gags strung together, Brave Little Tailor has the characters "acting." This short could possibly have been a "testing ground" for Mickey and the Beanstalk which was due to go into production a few years later, but was put on hold due to World War II.

Leonard Maltin appears with the world's favorite mouse in the bonus feature "Mickey in Living Color." A storyboard sketch from "The Band Concert." The gallery features a few posters including this one from "Thru the Mirror."


The set's lone newly-produced piece, "Mickey in Living Color" (8:43) has Leonard Maltin taking a look at Mickey’s fame, from his early barnyard incarnations to his Technicolor debut and the changes in his design. Various clips are featured, including an interview with Ward Kimball and an excerpt from the anthology episode "The Plausible Impossible." The difficulties of writing for Mickey are discussed here, explaining why Mickey was so often teamed up with his co-stars for many shorts from the mid '30s and how eventually he became eclipsed in popularity by Donald and Goofy.

Finally, the gallery contains 52 images of posters, magazine excerpts, storyboards and pencil animation from some of the shorts contained on this disc.


Highlighting the "o" of "Mouse" on Disc Two’s main menu will bring up a delightful, rarely-seen gem. For 1939’s New York World’s Fair, Disney produced a short that was sponsored by Nabisco. Mickey’s Surprise Party begins with Minnie making a batch of cookies that she hopes will be just like Mickey’s mother used to make. When she turns her back, Fifi begins to chase a fly and accidentally knocks a box of popcorn into the mix. When Mickey and Pluto arrive a burning smell starts to float from the kitchen and when Minnie takes the cookies out of the oven they begin to explode. Minnie is distraught that she couldn’t make cookies like Mickey’s mother used to make. Mickey rushes out and returns with a range of Nabisco’s products, revealing that his mother used to buy ‘em all the time. The short also has the shocking revelation that Fig Newtons are Mickey’s favorite.

This short is one of the most charming that Disney has ever produced, and it is a shame due to its commercial nature that it doesn’t get shown more. Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto have all had varying designs over the years, but as far as I am concerned, in this short they all look perfect. They have a satisfying roundness and warmth to them, and the only other short that has this same feel to it is 1939’s The Pointer. The animation in Mickey’s Surprise Party also has a much higher quality to it, in some scenes the characters have highlights and shadows, whether that was due to the fact it was a commercial short is not known.

"Pucker up!" Minnie plants one on Mickey in the Easter Egg short, "Mickey's Surprise Party." Mickey Tackles the Giant in "Brave Little Tailor."


Video quality for this set ranges from The Worm Turns, which looks truly wonderful without a speck of dust, to shorts which have the odd artifact here and there, to some shorts such as The Moose Hunters which have a considerable amount of artifacts. However, for material up to 70 years old, I don’t think anyone could grumble too much at the picture quality of the shorts. It must be noted that some of the artifacts present are not due to wear and tear through the years, but from the nature of the production era's photography.
In particular, scenes that are dark or feature a lot of black on the screen appear with white specks. Considering these specks remain stationary, and do not flicker, it can be concluded that they are not dust which plagues the film, but are artifacts that would have been on the original animation cel or lens. Also, the watercolor paper on which the backgrounds were painted on was not smooth. The temperamental nature of watercolor paint means that inconsistency in background color is something present even on shorts that have been restored; it is not an indicator of subpar remastering.

Still, even on the shorts which undoubtedly could be picked at, colors are strong, the animation breathtaking and in cases still able to rival even modern animation. Most of the shorts here probably look as good as they ever will, but there are a couple which could look a bit better. All the shorts here are presented in their original aspect ratio (close enough to 1.33:1 fullscreen) and most are windowboxed in order to prevent too much picture being lost to overscan.

Aside from Clock Cleaners being the version with the substituted dialogue (which I mentioned was probably due to carelessness), all the shorts here appear uncut. Many of the shorts on the set have had the scissors taken to them over the years, but thankfully they are now intact here. Scenes which had been missing over the years include Donald firing a machine gun into the audience in Mickey’s Amateurs, Goofy sticking his finger in a light socket in Magician Mickey, Laurel hitting Hardy with his mallet in Mickey’s Polo Team, Goofy sticking his fork into the light socket and popping the corn in Mickey’s Trailer and Pete saying “I’m gonna blow your head off” and “I’m gonna murder you, I’m gonna fill you full of lead” in The Worm Turns.

The basic mono soundtrack naturally will not take anyone's breath away, but it does its job and is more than pleasing. Sound is sharp and clear and does the shorts justice.

What does Mickey have up his sleeve in "Magician Mickey"? Mickey's on the hunt for Machine-Gun Butch in "Mickey's Parrot."


This is, without a doubt, a brilliant collection of shorts, and aside from Clock Cleaners not having the original dialogue, it’s hard to pick faults. Like a number of DVDs in the Treasures series, bonus features are thin on the ground. But what is included here is gold. The gallery seems a bit skimpy with only 52 images emanating from only a few shorts, meaning about half of the shorts on this set don’t have any related material in the gallery.

The shorts themselves are all fantastic, all from what most would consider the Golden Age of the format, beautifully crafted with a rich variety of subject matter. Unlike some other shorts-based Treasures releases, Mickey Mouse in Living Color does not feel like a chore to watch thanks to the variety of the contents of each short. Whereas two discs of Donald shorts in one sitting would be a daunting prospect to many, these shorts venture from the storytelling world of Brave Little Tailor to the thrills of mountain climbing in Alpine Climbers and Mickey is surrounded by Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Clarabelle, Horace, Clara Cluck and Pluto, ensuring that you never get a feeling of monotony and that watching the entire set in one sitting without a sense of boredom is quite plausible.

This set gets a firm recommendation from me, and it is a must for any Disney fan’s collection. The only snag would be tracking it down now for a reasonable price. If you were to come across a copy of this title, I strongly recommend you snap it up. After all, the longer you wait, the higher the prices will go (they're already higher on this than just about every other Treasures tin) and who knows if or when Disney will unleash these gems from the vault again.

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

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Review posted September 23, 2006.