Poster

Blue Rhythm

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : August 18, 1931

Running Time : 7:19

Synopsis

Mickey and his gang gather to play "St. Louis Blues" in a concert hall.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Clarabelle Cow
Horace Horsecollar
Pluto

Credits

Director
Bert Gillett
Animation
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Joe D'Igalo
Norm Ferguson
Tom Palmer
Dick Lundy
Jack Cutting
Frank Tipper
Cecil Surrey
Charlie Byrne
Hardie Gramatky
Jack King
Rodolfo "Rudy" Zamora
Harry Reeves
Asst. Animator
Ed Benedict

Cut Scenes

A scene of dachshunds playing French horns was cut in the 80's.

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 44: Musical Mickey
The Mickey Mouse Club : February 7, 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

  • This short is unusual in one respect. In it, Pluto is given a "human" character; that of playing the trombone in Mickey's band. It was one of the only (maybe the only) short where Pluto was given a more or less anthropomorphic role.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Blue Rhythm is kind a quandary for me. It’s a Mickey Mouse short that features all the things I’ve said here that I dislike – Mickey playing a piano, with no discernible story or plot. But you know what? It’s fun! It’s a fantastic short with great, lively music that makes you feel good when you watch it.

Part of that, I imagine, is because of the different type of music used in this short. Rather than the popular songs that have been used in some of the other shorts, this cartoon uses a more jazz/swing type music, that flows much better. It’s a breezy tune that flows through the short and gives a lively energy that was lacking in other shorts.

The second thing I like about Blue Rhythm is the animation work done on Mickey Mouse. Much like the music, Mickey has an energy about him in this short that keeps things moving. Despite the fact that Mickey is used in a variety of sequences in the short, he moves from one to the next smoothly and rapidly.

Not to mention, there are some fantastic shots in this short. The opening shot features Mickey’s silhouette on a giant scale, showing his performance at the piano. It establishes a grandiose scale and then brings things down to a smaller level quickly.

After a quick Mickey performance, Minnie joins in to do a dance, while Mickey keeps playing the piano. He reaches underneath the piano and gets gum on his glove, which leads to some funny interactions with the piano and great facial expressions by Mickey. His irritation and frustration is palpable, and is a credit to the artists.

The middle section of the short is a nice band sequence, just like we’ve seen a million times before in other Mickey shorts. It’s Mickey leading a band, but this time, instead of in the barnyard, it’s taking place in a nice looking theatre on a grand stage. Perhaps that makes the difference, I’m not sure, but it’s well done.

Pluto gets an interesting role here. For the first time (and as far as I know the only time) he takes on a characteristic of a human being. In this case, it’s playing the trombone, much to the annoyance of Mickey. Pluto keeps ramming his trombone into Mickey’s backside, in a quite humorous bit.

The final number is Mickey playing an instrument while doing a dance in the spotlight. Again, he transitions from the big flashy band number to the tight shot dance with ease. I don’t know if there is a different technique being used in the animation, but it seems as though Mickey’s motion is much more fluid here. Could be the music, I’m not sure.

So, even though Blue Rhythm is completely not the type of short I would normally praise here, I really enjoyed it. It delivers fun in spades and is immensely entertaining. It is a credit to the artists and to Walt that there’s such fun to be had in this short.


From Mac : This one is really good and I'm glad you like it. The jazzy music and flow from shot to shot are good points. Gradually the Disney cartoons are getting more sophisticated and I think it can be seen here with this musical Mickey compared to some of the earlier ones.

It's nice how everything is laid out in this short. The stage for the band sequence allows the audience to see all the characters at once and then go into close ups with short sequences with each one. Horace and Clarabelle are here, as well as some typical stock characters – a big pig, two goats and two daschunds. We also have that diminutive hairy-faced dog who's become a recurring character throughout 1931. Plus there's Pluto. It's an odd appearance since he's wearing gloves and playing the trombone. Yet in other ways he's very much the dog (rather than human substitute) that he usually is especially with the quizzical glances on his face as Mickey folds up his trombone. It's still quite an early appearance Pluto, so I guess some of the 'rules' still hadn't been sorted out. I suppose it was decided that these all too human characteristics didn't really fit so some of the more outlandish things (having hands, playing a trombone, talking) soon stopped and he remained a 'real' dog.


From Jerry Edwards : Mickey and Minnie perform musical variety acts from singing to dancing to playing various instruments. Mickey then leads an orchestra, whose music gets so violent that they break through the floor. Generally boring to me - nothing new, same old singing, dancing, and orchestra playing routine.
From Ryan : This was absolutely one of my favorite Mickey shorts. Even though there wasn't much action, the music was great (although I'd much rather listen to Smashmouth or Limpbizkit, but hey, those bands had not been born yet). I noticed that Pluto was given a human characteristic in this short as the trombone player who keeps tickling Mickey's back with the slide. The dachshund scene that was deleted had puzzled me, but I have been told that various shorts are edited not due to the fact of censorship, but due to the fact that they needed to fit within a certain time frame so Disney would just delete unimportant parts of the short.
From Sam : Though it does not feature a strong story or laugh-a-minute gags, this one still remains one of my favorites. With a mix of catchy music and delightfully rubber-hose animation, it's such a joy to watch as Mickey and friends put on their variety show that you can't help but smile. After viewing it, you can certainly understand how this and the other black-and-white Mickey shorts helped to lift the nation's spirit during the dark days of the great Depression. One thing you can say about Mickey, he sure knows how to bring the house down.
From pupspals : It's nice to see Minnie come out of her modern domesticated shell in this cartoon. Her solo is filled with (too much?) enthusiasm for the song. It's also rare to see her skirt drop during the song a couple of times. Pluto plays trombone which hits Mickey on the rear, so Mickey makes the slide shorter. Clarabelle plays both flute and string bass and her outfit only covers her udders. Hortense plays percussion The nameless other orchestra players are cute as well. I like it overall!
From Gijs Grob : Although Mickey and Minnie perform countless (and often tiring) sing and dance routines in the early Mickey Mouse films, this is the earliest 'concert cartoon' known to me. Here, Mickey and the gang are not performing for their own fun, but giving a concert in a large theater. It thus predates similar concert cartoons like The Band Concert (1935), Bugs Bunny's "Rhapsody Rabbit" (1946) Tom & Jerry's "Cats Concerto" (1947), introducing several piano and conductor gags.

This is also one of the few cartoons in which the music performed can be unmistakably identified as jazz. Minnie's blues singing resembles contemporary female vaudeville blues singers (e.g. Victoria Spivey) and the pig trumpeter performs in the growling jungle style of Duke Ellington. Mickey shows to be an all round entertainer, performing as a ragtime pianist, a scat singer, a conductor AND a clarinetist.

Blue Rhythm is a great cartoon, from the opening scene, in which Mickey's casting a huge shadow on the curtains to the grand finale in which the excited performance makes the stage collapse. This cartoon may have few gags, it nevertheless is a delightful ode to music, and jazz in particular.


From Bill : I know a lot of fans say they get tired of the old song and dance routine that the early shorts have Mickey and Minnie doing, but this one had some real catchy tunes and rhythm and the music was very enjoyable. The gags were not as numerous as some, but the opening scene with Mickey playing and his enormous shadow against the stage was well thought out and animated. It was fun, and moved right along.

Referenced Comments