Poster

Building a Building

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : January 7, 1933

Running Time : 7:20

Synopsis

Mickey saves box-lunch-seller Minnie from Pete, who's boss on a construction site.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Pete
Pluto

Credits

Director
Dave Hand
Animation
Ben Sharpsteen
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Tom Palmer
Dick Lundy
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi
Frenchy de Tremaudan

Awards

Nominated for an Academy Award (Short Subjects - Cartoons.) The award was won by The Three Little Pigs.

Video

United States
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : How the Best Was Won : 1933-1960
Italy
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : Cartoni Animati da Oscar

Laserdiscs

United States
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : How the Best Was Won : 1933-1960
Mickey Mouse in Black and White: Volume 1
Japan
Mickey Mouse : The Black and White Years
Mickey Mouse: A Star is Born

DVD

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

Television

Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 13
The Mickey Mouse Club : October 10, 1955

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8

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 United Artists Pictures

Comments

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : We’ve managed to clear 1932 in the Disney Film Project, and we cruise on into 1933 with one of the most celebrated Mickey Mouse shorts ever – Building a Building. This one was nominated for an Academy Award, before losing out to The Three Little Pigs, which we will get to later. Does it live up to the hype?

Absolutely. It features everything that you would want in a Mickey Mouse short – Mickey as the loveable underdog, Minnie flirting with Mickey, Pete menacing the two of them, and a happy but chaotic ending. Toss in several good gags all throughout the construction site, and you have the makings of a classic.

Funny enough, this is really a remake of the Oswald short Sky Scrappers. The plot is exactly the same – Mickey/Oswald is part of a construction crew that is run by Pete, who tries to steal Sadie/Minnie when she comes peddling box lunches. A clash ensues, and our hero comes out ahead.

There are even some of the same gags included, such as Minnie/Sadie gazing adoringly at Mickey/Oswald while he eats. Or, more noticeably, the shorts open with the exact same shot – a shot of a steam shovel that looks like a menacing face with teeth. The similarities between the two are very prominent.

Despite that, there is enough difference to make this a worthwhile short on its own. First of all, Mickey is a different character than Oswald. You can see that in his approach to Pete. Where Oswald ends up confronting Pete and engaging in a fist fight, Mickey tries to confront Pete, but ends up just knocking the bully off balance and running away. It’s subtle, but it shows the difference in Mickey vs. Oswald.

The animation here is very good, showing a great deal of expressiveness in Mickey and Minnie, and great action as Mickey moves quickly through the girders and boards, falling, tripping, jumping or hopping along. Even better is the final sequence, where Pete tumbles through the entire construction site.

The reason this short was so popular at the time, though, is likely because of the time it was released. At the height of the Great Depression, people were miserable, both in and out of their jobs. Mickey’s rebellion against his boss was a great encouragement to audience members who were wishing they could do the same. That’s why this short seemed to resonate more than the Oswald short that was released years earlier. I recommend seeing both, as they’re both fantastic pieces of work by the Disney animators.


From Mac : Another wonderful Mickey cartoon. Yes it owes a lot to the earlier Oswald cartoon, but it's interesting to see how far Disney has come. One advancement over the silent Oswald cartoon is the use of music. OK that's obvious, but it's just used so well, it's hard to imagine certain scenes (e.g Mickey meeting Minnie and saving her hat or Pete's trousers sprinkling with water as he runs around in pain) without the lovely accompanying music. Like the Silly Symphonies, songs are starting to sneak in now too. I assume Minnie's "Box lunch, who wants a box lunch?" is an original tune, but maybe David can tell us for sure?

One odd thing about this short is that I can never work out what Minnie sings at the end. Logically she's singing out M-I-C-K-E-Y as she writes it on the cart, but that's not what I hear. Sounds more like "M-I-C-E-Y-I" and I certainly don't hear a 'K'. Any ideas what the words are here?


From Lee Suggs : This is an important Mickey short. Made during one of the worse years of the depression I am sure it was quite uplifting. If you could get a job, during the depression, I'm sure you had to keep it no matter how you were treated. This short represented what every mistreated worker wanted to do. So Mickey, by being himself, may have made things better for millions.
From Jerry Edwards : Mickey, a steam shovel operator at a construction site, has no lunch after Peg Leg Pete, his foreman, steals and eats it. After Minnie gives Mickey a free box lunch, Pete kidnaps Minnie. Mickey and Minnie defeat Pete after a hot pursuit throughout the building, with Mickey joining Minnie as co-owner of her box lunch wagon. One of my favorite of the early Mickey cartoons - just full of action and gags. One scene of Minnie pouring hot rivets down Pete's pants is hilarious. The scene of Pete falling into a cement mixer and both falling as girders also fall all around is superbly animated and fascinating to watch. One oddity of the cartoon is that Pluto is treated as if he's Minnie's dog - he's pulling her lunch wagon.
From Ryan : This is one of the cartoons that was playing at the Disney Store in Chicago that I went to. It was in its original black and white version, but the sound was turned down and instead there was a big screen that was turned up enough that the whole store could hear it. It featured today's Disney crap such as music from stupid kiddie shows like "Bear in the Big Blue House" and "Rolie Polie." Well anyway, back to the short. I noticed that Mickey had quite a big fish for just himself. It was still whole too. Hopefully the guts had all been taken out of it. Minnie comes by selling huckleberry pies with Pluto pulling the cart. After Pete fires Mickey (well actually I think Mickey quits before Pete tells him he's fired), Minnie hires him and now it's Mickey and Minnie's Huckleberry Pies. I saw the colorized version on the "Gotta Be the Shorts" marathon. It was better since there were no people around and there were no songs from stupid children's shows playing in the background, therefore I could hear it much better! Ha Ha!
From Bill : Sometimes when I express my opinions and comments on all these great Mickey I find it hard for me to find faults with most of the classics. I'm just guilty of being a rabid and devoted fan of Mickey and the old way that Disney did him before the "allowed" Mickey's character to change so drastically. I say "allowed" because the only reason Mickey played second fiddle to Goofy and Donald, etc. was because the writers let it happen. In this short, again, Mickey saving Minnie shows that the old Mick is brave and daring and will do anything for his Minnie, and in the process provide all the laughter in Mickey's special manner. The steamshovel was very imaginative and the artwork on the highrise was excellent, especially when Pete was falling through all those girders! This short has many great gags and the action was fast paced. The best part was when Minnie helped Mickey to battle Pete. It just shows that special bond between them. Great Storyline.
From Gijs Grob : Building a building' has a grand opening with its close-up of the anthropomorphized excavator. This fast and gag-rich cartoon can be summarized as Gallopin' Gaucho at a building site: Mickey is employed as an excavator machinist at a building site. When Minnie drops by selling box lunches, Mickey is so struck by love that he ruins the plans of foreman Peg Leg Pete three times. The latter is charmed by Minnie as well and tries to force her to a kiss. Of course, Mickey comes to the rescue, fleeing with Minnie and leaving Pete behind with the building in complete shambles. This is the first of a few 1933 Mickey Mouse cartoons that are introduced and partly played out in Song.

Referenced Comments