Poster

Mickey's Mellerdrammer

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : March 18, 1933

Running Time : 8:17

Synopsis

Mickey and the gang stage "Uncle Tom's Cabin," but the crowd receives Horace's villainous performance as Simon Legree too seriously, bombing him off the stage with vegetables. Clarabelle's dramatic performance as a fleeing slave is also ruined, when dogs that are supposed to be chasing her are led astray and through the orchestra pit by a cat.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Clarabelle Cow
Horace Horsecollar
Goofy
Clara Cluck

Credits

Director
Wilfred Jackson
Animation
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Ed Love
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi
Paul Fennell
Charles Couch
Hamilton Luske
Kevin Donnelly
Bill Roberts
Tom Palmer
Fred Moore
Marvin Woodward
Ben Sharpsteen
Roy Williams
Harry Reeves

DVD

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
The Mickey Mouse Club : November 16, 1956

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8

Page 9

Page 10

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

  • An abridged version was released in 16mm under the title "Mickey vs. Simon Legree."

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Let me preface today’s review by saying that I have never read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, so there are lots of things in Mickey’s Mellerdrammer that probably go right over my head. That said, I think this is a short designed to be extremely funny.

Make no mistake – the Disney team is going for gags here. The story is that Mickey and the gang are putting on a play, a rendition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but that’s really the excuse for a rapid fire procession of gags. The entire short is constructed in a way that it offers each of the main characters a chance to get in some great gags.

There is a large cast in this one, as Horace and Clarabelle return for the first time in a while. That’s in addition to Mickey and Minnie as the stars of the play, and Goofy as the stage manager. The only member of the gang missing here is Pluto, but for good reason, as there is a large group of dogs that gets highlighted at the end of the short. Sticking Pluto in that environment would have made him less prominent, so it’s good that he’s missing from this short.

I had not seen this short before, and I have to assume that is because it so prominently features black face and racial stereotypes. Strangely, though, the caricatures in this short did not seem as offensive as in other Disney shorts. Even though Mickey dresses up in black face and dons a “black woman” wig, it’s not quite as bad. Now, I say that as a white male. I imagine that African-Americans may find this one a bit troublesome.

However, I think the intention was nothing of that sort, but instead was to focus on the fun that the characters were having putting on the show. Not being familiar with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I don’t know the story, but it seems like it involved Mickey and Minnie running away from the slave master, played by Horace. Horace is so convincing here as the villain, that the audience bombards him with rotten fruit and vegetables.

Clarabelle also gets a spotlight here, playing a mother fleeing with her baby in a driving rainstorm. The gags during this sequence go extremely fast, with every character joining in. Most of them come from the effects used to simulate the storm – Mickey banging dishes as thunder, Minnie popping popcorn to simulate rain, and Goofy shooting a fake thunderbolt down at Clarabelle. They happen so fast and furious that it’s hard to take them all in at once.

The finale scene is the patented chaos that ends most Mickey shorts these days. It’s started by a great gag, though, as Mickey and Minnie toss real dogs into fake dog costumes, which is hilarious. The dogs in the costumes bust loose when a cat gets free, and the set is knocked down and destroyed.

Mickey’s Mellerdrammer is funny, more so than the last few Mickey shorts that have been more emotional or serious. Kudos to the Disney team for making such a funny short in the midst of the Great Depression. I’m sure audiences loved it as much as I did.


From Mac : One thing I noticed about this one is that the hen in the audience is rather like Clara Cluck who won't have her first 'official' appearance until 1934. This hen seems to share the same kind of 'airs and graces' as Clara and also has the big hat!
From Jerry Edwards : One of my favorite Disney cartoons - just full of fun gags. This "instant" play adaptation Of Uncle Tom's Cabin is also a fun example of a troupe trying to put on a play on a very limited budget. Of course, most people have not seen this cartoon because it is full of black caricatures. In addition to the black caricatures, there are other "Non-PC" scenes, such as Mickey sticking a firecracker into his mouth and exploding it to create his "black face." The scene of a cat jumping on Clarabelle Cow (Eliza) as she crosses the river on ice flows and both being pursued by the hounds is just hilarious.
From Ryan : I love this short. It was really funny at the beginning of it when a man in the audience is sitting behind another man and asks him to remove his hat. After the man removes his hat, we see a puff of hair on his head.
From Bill I. : This was a great short, just lots of funny gags and action. Mickey and the gang are getting ready to perform "Uncle Tom's Cabin." I especially enjoy the shorts with Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar in them. The scene with Mickey putting a firecracker in his mouth to put on his blackface was funny. Also the scenes with Horace playing Simon Legree and getting bombarded with all the produce was well animated and funny. Even Clara Cluck lays an egg to throw at poor Horace. Nice to see Goofy in a part of the action. One of Mickey's best.
From Chris Perdue : I just wanted to make one note here about this short. I had never seen this one before until I got the Mickey Mouse in Black & White Volume 2 DVD. Overall, I thought it was a funny short, but it is not one of my absolute favorites. One thing I did notice was Horace's voice. Is this the first appearance of Billy Bletcher's voice in a Disney cartoon? I believe it is. Billy Bletcher would go on to be a regular voice actor in cartoons in the 30's and beyond, usually as Pete.

Although Horace Horsecollar rarely speaks, it seems he has the perfect voice for the villain in this story. It makes me wonder ... Is this Horace's normal speaking voice, or is he just a very good voice actor? Mickey knows him better than anybody. Maybe I should e-mail him and ask him.


From Jim Meadows : I can understand if the sight of Mickey Mouse and Clarabelle Cow donning blackface looks disturbing to audiences today. At the time "Mickey's Mellerdrammer was made, I think the Disney studion was drawing on the public familiarity with stage adaptations of "Uncle Tom's Cabin", which would have been remembered as a staple of old-time melodrama (and was probably still being performed by schools and clubs). The actual "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was a serious attack on the institution of slavery, but remembering it as a corny old stage show would soften the impact, and perhaps make this subject more palatable for southern audiences. I think the blackface portrayals in this cartoon are meant more to tease old-fashioned melodramas, rather than black people themselves. But the feelings and opinions of black people wouldn't figure into the making of cartoons in the 1930s.