The Birthday Party

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : January 7, 1931

Running Time : 7:33

Synopsis

Minnie, Horace, and Clarabelle join hordes of others for a big birthday celebration. Mickey and Minnie jam on "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby," then Horace and Clarabelle perform a dance and some scat-singing to "Darktown Strutters' Ball."

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Clarabelle Cow
Horace Horsecollar

Credits

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

Laserdiscs

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

DVD

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

Television

Donald's Quack Attack: Episode 40
The Mickey Mouse Club : October 30, 1956

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono
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 : The Birthday Party, featuring a surprise party thrown for our favorite mouse. It is a convenient setup for a familiar script – Mickey, Minnie and a bunch of animal friends playing music and dancing.

I must admit it is a little disappointing to see the formulaic nature of the old Mickeys return here, but there are some subtle differences. For instance, there is much more dialogue in this short than in most of the earlier Mickeys. When Mickey goes to Minnie’s door, there is a brief, awkward conversation between the two. Mickey asks Minnie how she’s doing, then vice versa, over and over, showing the playfulness between the two and the blooming courtship.

Another difference noticed is the new look for Mickey when he’s walking up to the door. We’ve been used to seeing Mickey in a variety of barnyard settings, but here, he’s dressed in a straw hat and a cane, showing a bit more of his gentleman side. Again, this mirrors Walt’s own development, and one would imagine many of his animators. Most of these guys were Midwestern dwellers in childhood, and had become more well off as they did better and better in animation.

Once the surprise party reveal takes place, the rest of the short is merely the playing out of the party. Minnie gives Mickey a piano for his birthday present, and the two join in a jam on the song “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby.” The only problem with that is that it takes up almost 2 minutes of a seven minute short with the two of them not facing each other but playing piano. It keeps the short stagnant for a while, even though the interplay between the two isn’t bad.

After that we get some dancing action, as would be expected. Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar do most of the work, showcasing these side characters in a memorable sequence. Their dance isn’t anything special, but seeing the two characters highlighted on screen is a treat.

The finale is the best gag of the film, as Mickey starts playing along on a xylophone, which suddenly comes to life. The xylophone attempts to evade Mickey’s mallets, then turns into a bucking bronco that Mickey ends up riding around the room. That’s the best gag in the short, and it ends the short on a high note.

The Birthday Party is not a major leap forward or anything like that, but it’s an entertaining short nonetheless. It really does put you into a celebratory mood, and speaks to the point that Leonard Maltin made in the commentary on Winter, that celebrations in these days were about music. You see that embodied in this short.


From Mac : This is a fun, musical short, but it's hardly one of my favorites. I agree that Mickey and Minnie seem to be a little more well-off now. They still have all there barnyard friends, but Minnie's house is clean and tidy with little sign of 'make-do-and-mend' – no cracks in the wall or patches on the curtains.
From Jerry Edwards : Mickey's friends give him a surprise party, including the gift of a piano. Mickey shows his thanks by entertaining them with an energetic musical number. One fun scene is when Mickey and Minnie dance after they play piano duets - the piano stools are then shown playing the pianos. I enjoy the wide variety of animal friends at the party - horses, mules, cows, goats, dogs, cats, pigs, and ducks. This short was remade later as the 1942 Mickey's Birthday Party.
From Ryan : I saw the colorized version of this short on "Quack Attack" and then on the "Gotta Be the Shorts" marathon. This was okay, but it really wasn't one of my favorites and I somewhat found it boring. I have never seen the original black and white version except for a short sepiatone clip of it on the "Mickey Mouse Anniversary Show."
From Bill I. : This is just a feel-good short. Minnie does not have to be saved and Mickey does not have to battle any foes. Mickey visits Minnie and she has a surprise birthday party waiting with all his friends; notably Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow, my favorite supporting characters! This short has gags galore and great music. Minnie gives Mickey a piano for his birthday and he and Minnie play up a storm, giving all the guests, all animals, a chance to dance and have fun. Nice sight gag when Mickey blows out the candles and the whole cake goes onto the chefs face. Another good scene; when everyone was hiding on Mickey, Percy Pig couldn't fit under the chair, so Minnie puts a tablecloth over him and a vase to disguise him. A strong 8!

Referenced Comments