Poster

Traffic Troubles

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : March 17, 1931

Running Time : 7:23

Synopsis

Mickey's a taxi driver on a very dilapidated road. He tries to take Percy Pig to an appointment, but loses him on the way. He then tries to bring Minnie to her music lesson, but a detour through a barnyard and an encounter with a snake-oil salesman ruin that plan, too.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse

Credits

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

DVD

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

Television

Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 73
The Mickey Mouse Club : February 8, 1956

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

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 : Mickey’s evolution continues in today’s short, Traffic Troubles. The storyline is king, but it’s packed with gags and features a working man Mickey for the first time I can recall. Our little mouse is growing up!

In this short, Mickey serves as a taxi driver, driving a car with eyes and a mouth that made me think of Bennie the Cab from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I don’t think those animators drew from this film, but as someone who saw that first, that’s what it brought to mind. The expressions of the car were very similar to Bennie.

Mickey has two passengers in this story, Percy Pig and Minnie Mouse. The first one was Percy, who is dressed here as a prominent businessman. The interesting thing about this is the setting. Mickey’s opening sequence and the ride with Percy is set entirely in the city. It’s a very poorly run city, though, as we will see.

One of the best gags in the film is the pothole sequence. After passing some rather large puddles, Mickey’s cab gets caught in a bunch of potholes. There’s some animation similar to other shorts where we see the cab driving head on towards the viewer, stretching its wheels or contracting itself to avoid the potholes. That’s pretty funny as is, but then there’s the fare meter.

As the taxi hits each pothole, the bounce causes the fare meter to increase, prompting a big smile from Mickey. This happens a couple of times, until the car hits a very large hole, and bounces the meter back down to the beginning. The frustration on Mickey’s face is a great piece of animation, and very funny.

The Minnie sequence shifts to the countryside. Mickey is able to pick up Minnie in the city, then takes her on a detour out over the fields and plains. Of course, there are still rocks and potholes here as well. Once Mickey’s car hits one more rock, it bounces up and the license plate falls upside down, and the numbers spell out “Oh Heck” in a very clever gag.

Ultimately, they get the car started again when Pete, in the second of his two roles in the short, pours some sort of snake oil in the tank. The car takes off and ends up getting ripped off its axles, falling onto the back of a cow for the end of the short. Again, all very well done and extremely funny.

This may have been the funniest of the Mickey shorts so far, although I’m sure there’s one I can’t remember at the moment. There were gags throughout that were funny even if not entirely original. The gags with the car have mostly been done before, either in Alice, Oswald or earlier Mickeys. But mixing in stuff with the potholes, the cow and Pete as a police officer make this a really fun short.


From Mac : Yeah, this one really ups the funny and has me laughing throughout! Mixed in with all the visual gags, there's even a good few funny lines in this one which really stand out after the last few shorts which rarely use verbal humor.

It's quite nice that Mickey starts out with a job in the big city, but by the end his cab's been smashed to bits and he's quite happy back in the backyard! There's a couple of cameos to spot in this one. Horace Horsecollar is pretty easy to see, but you'll have to look quick to find Clarabelle!


From an interview with Dave Hand posted by Michael Barrier.com reprinted here with the authors permission. Copyright 2003 by Michael Barrier. : I well remember at this time that I had a particular Mickey Mouse taxicab scene to do [for Traffic Troubles, 1931], and I did my very best with it—as I of course would—and got it on the Movieola with Walt, and he squinted and squirmed and grunted, and said, no, it didn’t have enough exaggerated action to it. I said OK, and back I went to my desk. Five times I brought that corrected scene to him, and each time I made it more exaggerated, and each time he turned it down. I thought, "What does this crazy man want?" I’d been in the business eleven years then, and Walt had much less time in the business—I never thought of that, though, I never thought that he didn’t know as much as I, I never thought that, I just thought that he ought to know that this animation of mine is acceptable, that was all. So, the fifth time I went back to my desk, and again, making all the in-betweens, and the drawings cleaned up nicely, and had it tested—I went back this time, happy that at last Walt would approve it. He looked at it, shook his head and walked away. I was broken up! It wasn’t right that I should have to do it that often.

Finally, I thought, "I’m going to show Walt he can’t be that smart with me"—I’m a year older than him, and even though that didn’t matter, it was just that he wasn’t an older man—I said to myself, "I’m going to show that fellow a trick or two." So went back to my desk to redo this scene a sixth time, and I said, "I’m going to make this thing so extreme, so outlandish, so crazy, that he’ll say, "Well, Dave, I didn’t mean to exaggerate it that much." So I did, I was really dirty—the only time I remember being dirty with Walt—and I made that thing so outlandish, and so extreme, I was ashamed of what I had done. But I brought the new test in very self-righteously and put it on for Walt, and said, "All right, Walt, I did this thing over again, I hope it’s OK," while slyly watching for him to explode—fly off the handle. He put his foot on the pedal, and he started the loop around and around and around, looking at it and looking at it. Then he stopped the loop and looked up at me with a big smile and said, "There! You’ve got it! Why didn’t you do it that way in the first place?"

That lesson stuck with me as I progressed through the studio, into supervising animator and then director. A supervising animator had three or four juniors, and he would take a small section of the picture, or a third of the picture, from the director and farm it out to his juniors, and he would work with them to show them how to get what he was supposed to be able to get. That was a part of the development of the animator in the studio in the early days, and continued, juniors working under seniors, and seniors being responsible for juniors. The lazier the senior was, the more the junior got to do, because the senior would sit and read books and make the junior do the job properly, and that’s how the junior learned so well.

So that lesson about exaggeration stayed with me through the supervising animation to the direction, and the supervising director that I eventually became. I never forgot that, and I think it might have shown up a little bit in my working with Walt—what he wanted, I suppose I could convey to an animator.


From Jerry Edwards : Mickey is a reckless taxi driver who has a series of hilarious adventures involving out-of-control traffic, a flat tire, a phony patent-medicine man, and a collision with a cow and barn. It appears that part of the idea for this cartoon came from Walt Disney's unhappy encounter with a traffic cop. One fun gag is Mickey being thrilled as each new bump causes his taxi meter to jump up several dollars each time. His luck turns bad when the last bump causes the meter to reset to zero. I find it rather "odd" that Pete appears as two different characters in this short. Pete, with normal legs, appears early in the short as the traffic cop who reads Mickey the riot act for causing a traffic jam. Later Pete appears (with a peg leg) as the phony patent-medicine salesman.
From Ryan : This is definitely a classic Disney cartoon. Mickey is a taxi driver who drives a somewhat odd-looking taxi (or maybe that's just how they appeared back then). It was funny seeing the meter move from a few cents as far up to $7.50 (which was pretty damn expensive for a taxi ride back then). Another scene that I should point out in this short was where Mickey is driving Minnie to her music lesson, he runs into a cow and the cow ends up with the top of the cab (where the driver/passengers ride) on her back. The license plate had a bunch of numbers on it and when the cow turned it around by running, it read "OH HECK."
From Bill : This is a great short; it has gags and action galore! It opens with Mickey driving his somewhat anthropomorphic taxi down the street, jumping around looking for fares and being squeezed between two other cabs. Pete, who is a cop, yells at Mickey for causing a traffic jam picking up a fare. From then it's one gag after another. Mickey's cab passing another small car by all four wheels scissoring up and going over the car; classic stuff. And Mickey's cab pushing two other cars away to park, biting the front car and Mickey telling the car "No, no!" This short also had Pete in the role of a snake oil salesman, complete with pegleg. The best gag was when the cab strikes a rock and the cab flies off it's chassis and lands on Clarabelle Cow's back. This is when Mickey was a wild and daring mouse and shows why he was the king in the early days. They should have never changed his demeanor!

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