Friday, November 18, 2011
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICKEY MOUSE!
One of most beloved but eventually blandest, sadly, cartoon characters had a birthday, in 1928: Walt Disney's loved little barnyard scrawny whiskered rat, known as one Mortimer Mickey Mouse. Mickey has been made a goody goody two shoes through the decades, all the way to the asinine [They Might Be Giants's presence notwithstanding] CGI [not the only reason for the bad quality] "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" almost ten years, where Mickey talks babyish. But there was a time, yes there was a time, back to "Plane Craxy","Steamboat Willie",etc. when there WAS a BRAVE and ADVENTUROUS Mickey Mouse.
Mickey came out of an irony when Walt had been riding on the train, legendarily, with wife Lillian, according to a fable straight out of Walt's animated feature movies themselves, when he thought up the character, or in his studio in another alternate universe, when a little mouse and him shared food, either way after his Oswald fiasco with Universal, whoi'd gotten that earlier rabbit which just a few years back Disney glot back, and who had then given Walt Lantz the character [the *&%$#hole that stole the pre-Bugs Bunny rabbit from Walt, Charlie Mintz, would move to Columbia, ironically, a 1930s distributor of...DISNEY films...]. But like Lantz's Woody Woodpecker it seems that this is not exactly true..but unlike the honeymoon versus Woody production at the Lantz studio that busts the honeymoon of Walt and Grace Stafford Lantz, it still seems shrounded in mousy msytery as to Mickey creation, only that Ub Iwerks had done the actual creation and design. The character eventually after auditions got Walt's voice, one of many in house voices, and then went to a major debut of sound in animation after Warner Bros. before their own animation entry a few years later with the Harman-Ising studio, had AL Jolson ushering the sound era in [the subject of the upcoming indie flick "The Artist"] at all.
Mickey Mouse is maybe the most misunderstood 1930s-1940s American classic theatrical cartoon character of all time.
During the thirties, Mickey, with Donald Duck, Pluto and Goofy [nothing like a dog who stands up and a dog who walks in one cartoon, eh?:)], went on straight adventure, but by the mid thirties became so popular he became the male Shirley Temple. To put into context Disney got so many letter from angry parents that Mickey wanted to kick ass [LITYERALLY], that supporting cast nonethless [Leonard Maltin and others writing noted the surperior supporting cast issue here], it wasn't as much fun to watch the mouse.
Technicolor wasn't needed, nor Eastman or Cinecolor [THOSE were for the competition!!] for the black and white mouse even after color entered the new;ly started 1928-1939 "Silly Symponies" starting with "Flowers & Trees" on. But from "Band Concert" , the studio did color cartoons, but sitll had exclusive "3-Color Tech." rights.However the mosue by 1939 was, well, fading.
He did get into The Major Expirment in November 1940--"Fantasia": in the second sequence "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", which brought him new fame, playing the title character. But kit wasn't tioll; mid 1940s, ironically when Disney retired playing his character but then in 1953 with "Simple Things" retired Mickey, with Bugs, Woody, and even Disney's own supporting cast outshining The Mouse [and sound effects guy Jim MacDonald took over the voice] by "Fun and Fancy Free". '
However 1955 brought the first [and REAL in my humble opinion] "Mickey Mouse Club", the first TV adaptation of the old `1930s theatrical and radio clubs, and he appeared on the opens and throughout, and in 1972 "The Mouse Fsctory debuted", but after 1958 it was just "symbol time"..Supermouse..Happy Hamster [he could be a great straight man to the Kia sports car hamster..] Fortunately the public and The Walt Disney Company havben't forgot and built him up in historical recongition though in one of the slight inaccuracries, the originally silent-made 1927 "Plane Crazy" and "Galloping Gauchos" predated the 1928 "Steamboat Willie" which was the first with sound.
and that is what got added to the others once Warner Bros. found Al Jolson "Mammy-ing" in "Jazz Singer"  to be a major turning point.
Attermpts WERE made, from "edgy" to "BABYISH" [the aforementioned "Mickey Mouse Clubhbouse"] to continue the mouse, who in 1983 DID get a comeback with a filmed version of the 1974 "Mickey Christmas Carol".