The Barnyard Battle

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : October 10, 1929

Running Time : 7:42

Synopsis

It's World War I and Kommandant Pete leads the cats in a raid on Mickey's farm. After enlisting in the army, Mickey mounts a spirited defense of the farmhouse.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Pete

Credits

Director
Bert Gillett
Music
Carl Stalling

Milestones

This was the first short not directed by Disney himself.

Cut Scenes

The scene of Mickey's physical examination has been cut.

DVD

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
The Mickey Mouse Club : February 9, 1956

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

  • This cartoon was once banned in Germany because they thought the military helmets worn by the cats were insulting to German national dignity.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : So, it would seem that in my quest for chronological perfection, I have misplaced a Mickey Mouse short. The Barnyard Battle, which I viewed today, should have been reviewed before The Plowboy, but such is life. This is still an interesting short for a couple of reasons.

The foremost reason this short is so intriguing to me is that it is an idea that Disney has done twice already, once in the Alice series and once in the Oswalds. It’s a war short, just like Alice’s Little Parade and Great Guns, and it even uses some of the same gags. If I had to choose between the three, Great Guns would be the best, but The Barnyard Battle is a close second.

The basic plot of the previous shorts is replicated here, as mice and cats go to war with each other. In comparison with the others, The Barnyard Battle is a bit more fun with its recruitment drive, with the mice playing “Dixie” and doing a Spirit of ’76 march before heading off to battle.

Mickey gets sized up in a funny early scene, where he gets the chance to have the tables turned on him. For the last few shorts, Mickey has taken advantage of animals around him to play them like instruments. This time around, it’s Mickey who gets turned into an instrument by the recruiter. It’s not a big deal, but it cracks me up to see the reversal of fortune.

The introduction of the cats is done well, in the technique that has been used a few times by the animators, of having the subject coming straight towards the camera and blacking out the screen. It’s been done a few times now, but it’s still a neat idea.

The real intriguing part of the short, though, is when Mickey is in an old house, firing a machine gun at the cats. First he runs out of bullets and uses piano keys instead, but then Pete manages to get inside. This is where Mickey’s personality really comes out, in the strongest piece of personality animation I have seen in the Mickey shorts.

Pete menaces Mickey, then we see Mickey hem and haw, stalling as he tries to figure out an escape plan. With his smiles, his shuffling of feet, his bowed head, Mickey gives off the sense of fear and nervousness perfectly. It’s a great piece of work by the animators. Even funnier is when he manages to escape and clap a mouse trap on Pete’s tail. The image of Mickey surfing around behind Pete on the mouse trap is the enduring image of the film for me.

The finale is a repeat again, showing Mickey positioning himself outside a crevice, and clocking the cats on the head with a hammer as they come out. Julius and Oswald did this with their tails, but Mickey with a hammer is pretty good, too. The only problem is that it’s been done before. That’s the only issue I have with the whole short, is that it’s less a Mickey short than a repeat of the earlier shorts. Still, the scene of Mickey in the house with Pete is what makes it all worth it.


From Mac : It's quite interesting watching this short out of order. Even though it's only a few shorts earlier than Mickey's Choo Choo, there's quite a significant difference. Mickey's back to a weirder voice and there's a lot more body distortion gags. I love the scene where Mickey gets his physical which is delightfully weird. The gag of him having his tongue stretch and stretched until his body his inside-out and can be checked over is especially good – it looks like the base of his tongue has been nailed in!

I wonder if a similar recruitment scene was featured in Great Guns since we only have an edited reissue version of that short to go by now. In this scene Mickey's stretchy and mechanical body opens up and comes apart very much like Oswald's.


From Jerry Edwards : Mickey enlists so that he can help defend his homestead from invading cats. After Mickey and several other mice are involved in several battles with the cats, Mickey finds himself fighting the army of cats alone. Mickey, with the use of a sledgehammer and anvil, "clobbers" the enemy and is hailed as a hero. Although the other mice generally look more "ratlike," it is difficult sometimes to recognize Mickey because the other mice often also wear his style of short pants. Mickey and the mice are shown smaller than in most cartoons. One fun gag is when Mickey runs out of machine gun bullets. He uses a row of piano keys as bullets. The Army Physical scene in which Mickey is physically and emotionally abused is quite jarring. This scene was censored for years on the Disney Channel, but the short was recently shown uncensored on the channel. Some gags and fun "weirdness," but not among my favorites.
From Calvin Daprice : Wonderful Mickey short. Definitely one of my favorites. Here we've got several Mickey look-alikes and several Pete look-alikes. My favorite part was where Mickey clobbers all the cats with a hammer to the tune of "The Anvil Chorus." Then he is hailed by the rest of the soldiers. As the band plays "The Battle Cry of Freedom", Mickey picks up a stick, ties some bloomers around it, and sticks it into one of the cats' butts, causing him to run in agony.
From Ryan : Ever since I heard about this short, I was interested in seeing it. It did not show up on the "Ink and Paint Club" so I figured perhaps it's on "MouseTracks" or "Quack Attack." When I heard of the "Gotta be the shorts" marathon, I saw it as one of the shorts listed. I watched it (and taped it) and it's absolutely wonderful. I saw the scene with Mickey's physical examination and said to myself "This scene was cut on the Disney Channel." Disney appears to reinstate some of their edits. So I guess there is a chance that this petition will work.
From Derek N. Langley : Nine and three quarters. No, ten! Mickey at the end of the clip is pure Chaplin and Stan Laurel. The politically correct handling of a violent subject of it's time and of the times to come is truly an historical animation.
From Bill : A very recognizable Ub Iwerks short. You can tell his style right away. I found the story interesting and right off the bat it was hard to tell Mickey from the rest of the mice; they were almost look-a-likes. The use of the rubber hose animation was well done. I still think the technique is just as funny as anything today. The sight gags were brilliant, especially when the cannon brought out by the cats was marching with them. Very clever! I did not think the exam Mickey went through was bad at all. In fact, the use of clever sight gags made it very funny. Another note; all the cats looked just like Pete in Steamboat Willie. Again, a great early short where Mickey continues to mature.
From Gijs Grob : Mickey joins a barnyard army of mice (many of which are Mickey look-a-likes) against an invading army of cats. We see him naked while he's treated rather badly by a very rude officer. Another officer is the first character in a Disney cartoon that actually speaks when he's shouting "company, forward march!" Up to this moment characters would only utter single syllable sounds and laughs. Only Minnie could express two syllables with her yoo-hoo, but that was it. In spite of this step forward, The Barnyard Battle remains, in effect, a silent cartoon. The way the inspecting officer asks Mickey to stick out his tongue is a perfect example. The highlight of silent acting, however, is given to Mickey, who, when confronted with a large and mean cat, gives a performance that matches Charlie Chaplin.
From Rich : In my opinion, this is one of the best of the earliest Mickeys. In this day and age, people just cannot picture Mickey Mouse without a voice or even as a mouse for that matter! Call it primitive if you want, but keep in mind that during this period, sound was new and filming techniques were evolving and Mickey was brand new. Mickey did things in this short that he would never be doing today (nothing too graphic), however the imaginations of the slim Disney staff were being stretched to the limit.

Although it is clear that Ub Iwerks animated most of the short, I remember reading in other sources than this site that Ben Sharpstein and either David Hand or Norm Ferguson animated scenes in here. If this is true, I believe Sharpstein may have animated the scene where Mickey (unsuccessfully) threatens Pete with a toy pop gun.

Altogether this is a well-done picture that only Disney fans would enjoy. It's a bit similar to the earlier Oswald Great Guns, but it would mostly remind you of the later Goofys such as Double Dribble, Knight For A Day, and Tennis Racquet just for the fact that they feature a whole bunch of Goofys like there are Mickeys in this. The only difference is in this short is that you'll know who the REAL Mickey is.


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