Poster

The Plowboy

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : June 28, 1929

Running Time : 6:14

Synopsis

Mickey flirts with Minnie on the farm, but she spurns him - making him look bad in the eyes of his helper, Horace Horsecollar.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Clarabelle Cow
Horace Horsecollar

Credits

Director
Walt Disney
Music
Carl Stalling

Milestones

The first appearance of Horace Horsecollar.

DVD

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 59: Clarabelle and Horace

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono : Cinephone
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by Celebrity Productions, Inc.

Comments

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : After the disappointment of When The Cat’s Away, the next short, The Plowboy, was a great improvement. It’s not that there are such huge strides between the two, but for some reason, The Plowboy was much more entertaining to me.

The plot is still very thin, something that is seemingly a hallmark of the Mickey Mouse cartoons in these early years. The basics are that Mickey is trying to plow a field, but gets distracted by Minnie. After forcing a kiss, Mickey gets mocked by his horse, and tries to react, when a bee stings the horse. The horse drags him along, breaking the plow handle, so Mickey forges a new one out of a pig.

If it sounds ridiculous, it is. But in this short, it works a little better than in the previous ones. The humor is grounded in the farm landscape and Mickey plowing the field, but there’s some crazy stuff going on that is the counter point to that. I can’t really describe it properly, but it works.

I think one part of it is the score, which although simple, is much better complimented by the visuals here than in some of the other Mickeys. The very beginning features Mickey whistling his way through his plowing, with Horace Horsecollar, his horse, joining in the fun, as well some various farmyard animals behind them. Since it’s just the beginning of the short and not a musical vacation right in the middle, it serves as a great introduction to the character.

One notable part of the short to me was Minnie’s appearance. Rather than her typical appearance of being approached by Mickey, she makes a jaunty dance into the scene, accompanied by her own animal, Clarabelle Cow. She even gives her signature “yoo hoo” call to Mickey when she stops. It’s a very neat little thing for someone like me who likes Disney music, and enjoys “Minnie’s Yoo Hoo” by the Walt Disney World Saxophone Quartet, but I digress.

Another thing I note here is that there’s more character animation in this short than in When The Cat’s Away. I related to Mickey as he felt the frustration when Horace mocks him for Minnie’s reaction to the forced kiss. I felt that frustration, too, because I’ve been on the other end of that mocking. And you can really tell in the animation that Mickey is fed up with it.

That’s probably the thing that sets The Plowboy apart, is the way the characters move and react. When Minnie is watching Mickey milk her cow, you can see her shy flirtatiousness. Mickey’s frustration is another example, but there are more. It’s fine work by Ub and his team.

Sure, The Plowboy is not a masterpiece, but it’s great fun, and it’s somewhat original. That makes it a good cartoon in my book.


From Kevin C. : One of my all time favorite shots, period. To me it's laugh out loud funny, every time. This and Mickey's Choo Choo are my go-to Mickeys when I need to spend some time with my favorite cartoon character. For me, the Disney-Iwerks sound era stuff is my all time favorite animation. It changed the world! Well, perhaps that's a LITTLE strong, but it's the rock solid foundation to the house that continues to grow. What an amazing accomplishment! And it all hinges on these beautifully drawn, beautifully animated little shorts and the impact of good will they had on the world, ESPECIALLY in the early sound era.
From Mac : Ryan, I just watched this short before reading the comments and had a lot of the same thoughts as you. Certainly the combination of animation and music are a lot better and more enjoyable again, with the same infectious cheeriness I found in Steamboat Willie.

It's good to see this early appearance of Horace and Clarabelle, arguably their first. Some people cite the cow from Plane Crazy as being Clarabelle's earliest appearance, but I don't really think that's her. Does anybody here think that? She's certainly more of an animal here (rather than human in animal here). The adoring way she licks Mickey is a funny caricatured observation of animal behaviour, but she can also stand on two legs to laugh at Mickey and can act indignant (a typical trait of Clarabelle in her animated appearances).

We've had horses in Disney cartoons before too, but I think we can call this Horace's first appearance. The Horse in The Barn Dance looked similar to Horace but didn't act like him. To me the most Horace-like horse we've seen before this is the one from The Fox Chase.

Interesting how Mickey still tries to kiss Minnie against her will just like in Plane Crazy. Here, however, he regrets it more (and not just because he gets humiliated) so I suppose he's becoming a nicer guy!

Kevin, I'm glad you mentioned Mickey's Choo Choo as one of your favourites – it's one of mine too!


From J. D. Weil : I noticed one big gaffe in The Plow Boy . There is a pan shot of Clarabelle where the background is moving in the wrong direction. It is certainly a jarring effect.
From Jerry Edwards : Mickey, with Horace Horsecollar as his plow horse, stops plowing when Minnie and Clarabelle Cow arrive. Mickey milks Minnie's cow for her, but Minnie clobbers Mickey with the full bucket when he sneaks a kiss from Minnie. When Horace is stung by a bee, Horace stampedes in pain - dragging Mickey and the plow behind him. After Mickey and the plow are thrown against rocks and trees, the plow is broken. Mickey then hitches up a rooting pig and uses it as a plow. The funniest gag for me is when a pig, rooster and goat are fleeing from the runaway Horace. They smash into a tree, resulting in one hybrid animal - a hilarious sight. I find the cartoon generally uninteresting, but the above gag makes this cartoon one that I rewatch often.
From Calvin Daprice : This is one of my favorite Mickey cartoons. One thing, I'm still puzzled with is what the name of the song is at the opening scene.
From Ryan : In this short, we are introduced to two new characters: Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow. They are not friends of Mickey and Minnie, but are livestock. Horace is pulling the plow while Mickey whistles an unknown tune. Minnie is playing on her little ukelele and singing "Comin' Through the Rye" (which are just a string of "Las") while getting ready to milk Clarabelle. As Jerry Edwards pointed out, there is a scene where a pig, goat, and chicken are running away from a gone mad Horace after being stung by a bee. They bump into a tree and all come together as a mutated animal. The fun gags and humor make this short worth watching.
From Lee Suggs : Here again Minnie doesn't seem to want to have much to do with Mickey. Her personality really seems very shallow and fickle in these early shorts. This may have something to do with her being modeled after a "Flapper", the modern party girl of the 1920's. Flappers had a reputation as being fun-loving and fickle. It's interesting to me that Horace and Clarabelle are so non-humanized here. Most characters who started out this way stayed animal like. (Pluto for example) Horace and Clarabelle, however, became humanized animals. They did tend to speak very little.
From Bill : I really love the early Mickey shorts. They are in the growing stage and it's so interesting to see Walt develop the characters. You can tell an Ub Iwerks cartoon right off. He has a distinctive drawing style. As Lee Suggs states, Minnie is still not Mickey's love; more of a tease. Her demeanor is very aloof. I think the early rubber hose method is still the most enjoyable way to see a cartoon. The story is simple, but this short had some very funny gags. Mickey and Horace tipping their hats to Minnie together was timed just right, and Mickey telling Horace to stay in the field while he milked the cow was also classic. I also enjoyed the way the bee got ready to sting Horace; another classic gag. And last, the pig, chicken and goat melding together after hitting the tree is another example of the early animators just having better imaginations than today.

There were also some great animation shots in this short. The front scene of Horace running toward the viewer and the perspective used is fantastic for the time. Good early short.


From Gijs Grob : In this weak cartoon Mickey and Minnie are farmers. The one remarkable thing about this cartoon is that marks the debut of Horace Horsecollar. One might say, it marks the debut of Clarabelle Cow, as well, but the early Mickey Mouse cartoons contain a little too many nondistinct cows to state that clearly. This cartoon is also important in the development of Minnie: she now has lost the bra-like circles on her body and she's singing for the first time. Notice how the animation of the tongue is completely convincing. Although Minnie's only singing "lalalala" (something she would do in many cartoons to follow), this is an important step to the animation of speech. Something I guess Disney was eager to master. This cartoon contains a scene where the background moves the wrong way making the cow walk backwards.

Referenced Comments