Poster

Pioneer Days

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : December 5, 1930

Running Time : 7:13

Synopsis

Mickey and Minnie are out West, then attacked by Indians. Minnie is captured and Mickey is, too, when he comes looking for her, but she escapes and rescues him; later, they disguise themselves as soldiers and scare the entire tribe into the hills.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Horace Horsecollar

Credits

Director
Bert Gillett
Animation
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Ben Sharpsteen
Jack King
Norm Ferguson
Wilfred Jackson
Dave Hand
Tom Palmer
Dick Lundy
Jack Cutting
Charlie Byrne

Cut Scenes

The entire ending with Mickey and Minnie scaring the tribe away has been cut.

Laserdiscs

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White: Volume 1
Japan
Mickey Mouse : The Black and White Years

DVD

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

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 28: Early Mickey
The Mickey Mouse Club : October 21, 1955

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

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 Columbia Pictures, Inc.

Comments

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Pioneer Days is a truly charming short, featuring a lot of action, a great story and some really well done animation. It shows what the Disney animators were capable of doing, given the time to work on a short and make it their own.

The constant struggle between music and story finds a happy balance here, as the songs are used to forward the story. In some ways this foreshadows some of the musical films that Disney would release later. Early songs like “Oh Susannah” being sung by Mickey and Minnie are used to set the scene and put the viewer in the proper frame of mind, just as “Jingle Bells” was used in Winter.

Of course, the main focus of this short is the story of the conflict between the Indians and the pioneers, and it is set up right from the start. After we see the Indians start their war dance, the scene then jumps over to the pioneers, and we get a nice juxtaposition between the warlike camp of the Indians and the peaceful, rustic camp of the pioneers.

Through the use of the two camps, there is the ability to use music in both settings, and incorporate dances to make things more interesting. We get three distinct songs from the pioneer camp, including a square dance and a lonely love ballad delivered by an old goat – literally. That subtle play on words is one of my favorite gags of the short.

The real action begins, though, when the Indians invade the wagon camp. From that point forward, it’s inspired chaos. The scenes of frantic pioneers scrambling around and trying to evade the arrows are great and add to the sense of motion that moves through the final part of the short.

One of my favorite bits features the Indians riding around the outside of the camp, while the scenery seems to turn the opposite direction. I know it has to be a simple trick, but it looks so dynamic on screen, that I couldn’t help but watch it twice. Kudos to the animators on that one.

The finale of the short comes when Minnie is kidnapped by one of the Indians, and Mickey rides off to save her. A great piece of personality is seen in Mickey’s face when he shoots his gun at the Indian menacing Minnie and all it shoots is a cork. Mickey’s look of helplessness mixed with surprise is a treat.

There is a slight twist on the familiar formula here, as Minnie comes to Mickey’s rescue by dropping a hot coal down the Indian’s pants. It’s the first time we’ve really seen Minnie in an active role, which is nice to see.

I enjoyed Pioneer Days a great deal. It does show some advancement in the Mickey shorts, continuing on the heels of The Gorilla Mystery and The Picnic. In Mickey’s third year of action as a cartoon star, it seems that Mickey is finally coming into his own.


From David Gerstein at Ramapith : Hey Ryan, which version of Pioneer Days did you watch?

The old TV version, also used on the 1990s laserdisc, ends with Minnie rescuing Mickey with the hot coals. This was the 1940s reissue print.

The version on DVD is taken from the first release print. It has an extra minute of footage at the end, showing Mickey and Minnie rescuing the other pioneers—won't give away how, in case you haven't seen it (your description didn't mention this ending, so I'm guessing you haven't?).


From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : I did watch the ending you referred to, but totally forgot to mention the clever ending. I assume you're talking about Mickey and Minnie marching into camp with a log stabbed with bayonets, which scares the Indians into running away.

It was a nice bit but you're right, I forgot to include it in the description.


From Mac : The second Black and White Mickey DVD was going to feature alternate versions of this short and The Castaway, but unfortunately these bonus features didn't make the final cut. David once told me about these alternate versions:

"There are several alternate cuts of early scenes in Pioneer Days, some of which include different backgrounds for certain scenes. Scott MacQueen made this discovery in the late 1990s, at the same time that the original ending was recovered.

At the time, only the ending was restored, but now I suppose all the variant scenes have been fixed up as well.

With The Castaway, I believe there are some alternate cuts of certain scenes as well (at least the scene of the piano washing up on shore is timed differently in two different prints). I'm actually the guy who tipped Disney off to this one, so I'm excited to see full restorations of the variant versions, if that's what we're going to get."

It's a shame the alternate versions never made it to DVD. It's interesting reading the animator drafts for this (available on Hans Perk's excellent blog  and also Patrick's Disney shorts site). It shows that some planned early scenes were cut before being animated. The alternate version shows that the tinkering continued! Also on the drafts we learn that the cool scene with the 'circular pan' was animated by Ben Sharpsteen.

I really enjoy this short. One scene I find impressive is the bit when Mickey and the Indian are fighting on the ground. This Wilfred Jackson scene is really squirmy, with the mouse almost getting cut then choked!


From Jerry Edwards : As Mickey and Minnie head west in a covered wagon, they are attacked by Indians who capture Minnie. Mickey rescues her, and then they return to frighten off the Indians from the wagon train by pretending to be an army of soldiers. An interesting, action-filled short. One rather odd scene is of the Indians doing what I perceive as a Jewish-type dance. One exciting scene is Mickey wrestling with an Indian - with Mickey trying to avoid losing his scalp. Minnie pours hot coals down the Indian's pants and the Indian runs off, howling in pain. The most disappointing thing about this short is that the laserdisc set copy is censored. The ending scene of Mickey and Minnie frightening off the Indians is missing. I have never seen a complete copy of this cartoon. Disney Archives' Dave Smith has personally verified that the short did have this scene.

The Mickey Mouse In Black And White DVD set contains the complete Pioneer Days, with the ending restored. The ending shows the wagon train overrun by the Indians. In one scene, after a pioneer sees another pioneer being scalped, the pioneer hands the Indian his toupee and runs off. Mickey and Minnie carry a log with branches sticking up to make it look like soldiers with bayonets and make cavalry bugle "Attack" noise to scare the Indians away from the wagon train.


From Ryan : As Jerry Edwards pointed out, both laserdisc and TV versions of this short are censored missing the very last scene where Mickey and Minnie scare the Indians away by pretending to be the cavalry. I, for one, would like to see this scene. This short was pretty good and aside from it being one of those "song and dance" cartoons, it has some suspense in it when the Indians come to the wagon train.
From Bill I. : Standard Mickey short: Mickey again has to play the hero and save Minnie from the indians as they go west. This short had some real nice animation scenes. The scene of the indians attacking the circled wagons and the great fight scene with Mickey fighting the indian with the knife stand out. This short had some nice sight gags; notable in the fight scene when Mickey, hiding in a stove, gets hit in the tush with an arrow going down the stovepipe. Classic fun. One scene that was moving was when Minnie, Mickey, Horace and Clarabelle are crying while the old man (a goat) laments about his wife. I also thought the indians looked like large rats. Fortunately all my DVDs are uncut and uncensored and the scene of Mickey and Minnie carrying a log with branches sticking up like rifles was funny and well done.
From Sydney Simmonds : This is a great cartoon. I liked the part when the aboriginal wolves and the pioneers each did their own dances. But why wasn't Pluto in it?

Referenced Comments