Poster

The Band Concert

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : February 23, 1935

Running Time : 9:18

Synopsis

Mickey leads his band through a rendition of "The William Tell Overture" while Donald Duck and a passing tornado interrupt.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Clarabelle Cow
Horace Horsecollar
Goofy
Peter Pig
Donald Duck

Credits

Director
Wilfred Jackson
Animation
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Ugo D'Orsi
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi
Ferdinand Horvath
Dick Heumer
Jack Kinney
Wolfgang Reitherman
Archie Robin
Louie Schmitt
Dick Williams
Roy Williams
Cy Young
Layout
Hugh Hennesy
Terrell Stapp

Awards

Won the Venice Film Festival Golden Medal (Best Animation - 1935)

Milestones

The first complete Mickey Mouse cartoon made in color.

Video

United States
Cartoon Classics : First Series : Volume 10 : Mickey's Crazy Careers
The Spirit of Mickey
Germany
Donald Ducks Tolldreiste Abenteuer
Mickys Größte Hits
France
La Joyeuse Menagerie
Joyeux Anniversaire Mickey
Le Meilleur de Mickey
Italy
Cartoon Festival 1
Topolino e Soci
Cartoons Disney 1
I Capolavori di Topolino

Laserdiscs

United States
The Spirit of Mickey
Japan
Donald Duck : A Star is Born
Mickey's Greatest Hits
Milestones for Mickey

DVD

United States
Make Mine Music
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)
Germany
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)
France
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)
Italy
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)
Sweden
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)
United Kingdom
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 2: Mickey Landmarks
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 30
Walt Disney Presents: Adventures of Mickey Mouse

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
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 Patrick Malone : The Band Concert stands, to my mind, as the pinnacle of the shorts during Disney's golden age of animation. Most critics agree that it the best that Disney ever came up with, both artistically and musically. The musical segues between the classical "William Tell Overture" and the folksong "Turkey in the Straw" (among other styles) are seamless; worthy of P. D. Q. Bach. Arturo Toscanini adored it, and some have said that it was a screening of this short that inspired Leopold Stokowski to volunteer his help with Disney's feature "Fantasia."

In a way, The Band Concert was also the impetus for this website itself. I was always a big Disney fan, but I tended to concentrate (as most do) on the feature films. One day I was going through my video collection (most of which I picked up from a local video store that was going out of business) and came across one called "Mickey's Crazy Careers." Just to kill time I put it on. When The Band Concert came on, I was mesmerised, and by the time it was over I was rolling on the floor. I went to the web to try to find more information on it and found very little on it, or any other shorts as well. Thus, the Encyclopedia was born.

Besides the major gags, this short is filled with smaller touches that highlight the film throughout: the hats that fly off of the band and back on in perfect time with the music; Mickey's uniform which seems to be two sizes too big as evidenced by the sleeves that keep slouching over his gloves; Donald Duck's tail which gives a little twitch right before he begins to cause mischief (watch for it) and his inexhaustible supply of flutes; and, of course, Mickey's conducting which holds the band together and forms the music almost as if by sheer power of will.

The short begins with Mickey and his band on the bandstand, acknowledging their applause of the audience and preparing for a performance of "The William Tell Overture." They begin, Mickey coaxing music out of the band using nothing more than baton movements and facial expressions. Donald Duck as a refreshment vendor wanders in and decides that he wants to join in with the band, but in his own way of course. What follows is a wonderful sequence where Donald continually takes over the band by playing "Turkey in the Straw" while Mickey vainly tries to regain control. The second that Mickey takes Donald's flute away, Donald just comes up with another one. (At one point, the trombone player grabs Donald with his trombone and shakes a pile of flutes out of him!)

A bee buzzes through and various members of the band go through different ways of getting rid of it. When Mickey uses his baton to try to rid himself of the bee, the band and the music faithfully play alone with his movements. The highlight of the sequence come when Horace Horsecollar, the percussionist, tries to kill the bee; first with a pair of cymbals, and then with a sledgehammer. Both times the clarinet player gets in the way, to hilarious results.

The following sequence, however, is the topper. Mickey turns the page of his score to the next section, "The Storm." (You can tell this is going to be an especially difficult section as extra pieces of paper have been taped onto the score to accommodate the more extreme notes.) Mickey rolls up his sleeves, Horace takes off his jacket and they begin. The clarinetist is first to play; note how he has his legs locked under the chair as if he's ready to give it everything he's got. Of course, as they begin the section a real storm comes along: a tornado, which begins to tear apart the countryside. The audience sees it and runs away; even the benches they are sitting on run away, but Mickey and his band see nothing but their music and keep on playing. Seemingly oblivious to what is going on around them, concentrating only on the music, swept up into the tornado, going through doors, goosed by fences, blinded by flying underwear, they play on, never missing a beat. The most wonderful thing is how Mickey's music stand stays with him all the way.

And then, in a miraculous moment, when the storm and the music is at its peak, Mickey raises his arms to stop .... and everything freezes. Then the music and the winds start to wind down as Mickey begins again, as if he is conducting not just the music but the tornado itself. The storm brings them back down to earth, depositing them among the branches of a large tree which has somehow survived the storm, and plopping Mickey down in front of it, music stand and all. He brings the band to a magnificent coda; a magical Christmas tree of musicians and music.

Mickey turns to accept the applause of the audience. But is there anyone left? Yes, one member, Donald, who amid the catcalls of the band, manages to get the last (musical) word in.


From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Best. Mickey. Ever.

Okay, now that I have that out of the way, I can talk about The Band Concert, another big milestone in Mickey’s career. It’s his first color short, and most people believe, his finest short in a long career.

Why is this so good? In my opinion, it’s because we have the entire cast of Mickey’s friends used in a great fashion, with their own distinct personalities, and playing off of each other well. It’s a short where you stop worrying about the animation or the colors and focus entirely on the characters.

The short is a Mickey Mouse cartoon, but Donald Duck steals the show. Donald appears shortly after the band begins playing and takes out a flute to start playing “Turkey in the Straw,” in contrast to the band that is playing the William Tell Overture. Despite Mickey breaking his flute, Donald whips out another one, then another and another. His magical appearance of flutes is one of the funniest bits ever in a Disney short.

But there’s so much more than just Donald. The interruption of a bumblebee causes some great action, with Donald launching ice cream at the bee and the ice cream ending up running down Mickey’s back. His shimmy, accompanied by appropriate belly dance music, is laugh out loud funny.

We also get a glimpse of other favorite characters, like Goofy and Clarabelle. I mentioned before that I did not remember the two of them being so “friendly” when I saw them as romantic partners in the movie, The Three Musketeers. But here, they are just that, as you see them flirting and glancing at each other over their instruments.

The big finish is the tornado sequence, which is simply stunning, from a comedic and artistic standpoint. Mickey and his band are lifted into the air by a tornado, but they never stop playing. Mickey slides through windows and doors, the band is flung up and down and in circles, but the music keeps going.

When they finally collapse into a tree, it’s not the one big crash and rubble scene we have seen in other Mickeys. No, this time, the animators take time to single out each character, showing them landing in a tree and continuing to play. Then, when the camera pulls wide to show the chaos in the tree, it’s a much more resonant shot. Great work.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t comment on Mickey’s color, since this is the first time we have seen it. The sight of Mickey outside his normal red pants and yellow shoes is odd for someone who has grown up with that. That said, this is a classic look for Mickey, with the white face (as opposed to the flesh color he has now) and black everywhere else. His eyes are not as defined as they would later be, but he is instantly recognizable.

I’ve read tons of articles and books that call this the best Mickey short of all time, and I can’t disagree with that. Other shorts have favorite moments of mine (Lonesome Ghosts comes to mind), but none are so consistent and wonderful as The Band Concert.


From Mac : This truly is one of the very best. That's an interesting point about how the characters makes the viewer forget about the actual animation and color. I'd never noticed until today that the animation is actually a little less slick than the last Mickey cartoon, Mickey's Man Friday. There's even a delightful gag that seems like a throwback to cartoons from several years earlier – when the audience runs away the benches get up and follow, wearing their occupants' hats!

Donald is really funny. He just can't wait to hijack Mickey's concert and delights in swaying the band members over to his tune, but the moment someone retaliates he can't take it and is absolutely furious! Mickey does well too, kitted out in his oversized costume, he's absolutely full of determination for him and his ragtag group of musicians to do this music justice no matter what.

The cartoon is so full of details I still notice things I've never seen before despite watching it many times over. I'd never spotted the birds flying backwards in the wind or the upside down house in the background of the Christmas tree scene before today.


From Tom Wilkins : Probably the greatest Mickey Mouse cartoon ever made, at least in my opinion. I guess politics were in order when 1935's Three Orphan Kittens won the short subject. For all 9:26 of the cartoon, Donald is at his best, especially in the harmony department. I guess William "didn't" Tell Donald to knock off what he was doing, which is a marvelous thing! Something else to consider, the 1941 short All Together has some of this animation reused.
From Michael Brown : It is, of course, a wonderful piece of animation. I do, however wonder what is the meaning of "Selections from Zampa"? As far as I know, the "Overture from 'William Tell'" is just that, the overture from an opera by Rossini, entitled "William Tell." This has been a source of confusion to me ever since I first saw the cartoon, and I would be grateful for any enlightenment you can give me.
From Calvin Daprice : It sure was funny when Donald kept annoying Mickey and the rest of the band by continuosly playing "Turkey in the Straw" on his flutes, but somebody just has to wonder where the hell he got all of those flutes. All identical too. It's like he had been planning this for quite a while.
From Joe Manning : I recently saw this cartoon on a laserdisc that I have at home. I think this was wonderful because it was a milestone in Mickey's career.
From Jerry Edwards : One of my top favorite cartoons - Disney or non-Disney. A wonderful choice for Mickey's first color cartoon. I love the gag of Donald being able to pull flutes out of nowhere when his previous flutes are taken away. I would have liked Donald more if Disney had kept this ability more often in later shorts. The only other short I can think of that Donald shows this "ability" is the 1937 Modern Inventions, where Donald pulls new hats out of nowhere each time a robot butler takes away his hat. The tornado sequence is especially well animated. I enjoyed the music they began to play prior to the tornado was titled "The Storm."
From Ryan : It's been a while, but Mickey has finally made his color debut. This was definitely a classic short. The funniest part was where Donald kept annoying the whole band by playing his various flutes that he had stowed away in his sailor suit.
From Richard P. Huemer : My late father, who animated Donald Duck in this film, regarded The Band Concert as the most perfect animated short ever made.
From Ted : I save the "10" ratings for those true classics that I savor watching again and again and again. This one is the best of the 10's! The fact that it is so darn musical AND full of precision gags makes it satisfying to see 2 or 3 times in one sitting... even slowing the action down in spots for a frame-by-frame analysis of what's going on! If I didn't have a VCR, I would buy one to have access to this classic cartoon.
From Gijs Grob : One of my all time favorite cartoons. The blending of the Wilhelm Tell Overture with 'Turkey in the Straw' is very natural, and the different parts of the overture are so convincingly altered in order, that I was surprised that they were not arranged that way, when I heard the original. There are some reminiscents of the black-and-white era (fleeing benches), but there is wonderful character animation, especially in Mickey and his oversized uniform, and Donald, with his multitude of flutes. The Band Concert is easily the greatest of all concert cartoons, including such fine pictures as "The Cat's Concerto", "The Magical Maestro" and "Baton Bunny"
From Taylor Kerekes : One of my favorite shorts. I've seen this short on the Disney Movie: The Spirit of Mickey. You know, Mickey should be a great conductor sometimes. Donald always kept annoying Mickey with those flutes, and I don't find that so funny. The tornado sequence in this short is great. And I sure like that section that Mickey's band plays to it called The Storm. I believe that the Storm section must've summoned that tornado. And they don't see anything except the music and seem oblivious to everything around them, including the tornado. This should definitely be a great music short.
From Baruch Weiss : From beginning to end this short has great music just like any other Disney short. It's also similar to a Warner Brothers short titled "Baton Bunny" because in both shorts neither Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny talk throughout the entire short and they have somebody disturbing them.
From Matthew Swartz : I'd give it an "8". They played the William Tell Overture out of order and I wish that the last time that you hear the William Tell Overture (before Donald Duck plays "Turkey in the Straw" at the end) was the actual finale to it.
From Billy Joe : Sadly, I don't own a whole lot of Disney's wonderful shorts. Fortunately, I own a copy of this masterpiece. The Band Concert was the first color Mickey Mouse cartoon. I think this film is very funny, because Mickey and Donald do not want to play the same song. It has some pretty funny cartoon gags as well. Oh, and I don't think that shaggy dog in the band is Goofy.
From Daniel : The Band Concert is a masterpice, the seminal Mickey Mouse cartoon. Wilfred Jackson's direction is fundamental to this films success, which is basically a throwback to Mickey's early, tightly synchronized outings (including the The Barnyard Concert, which is similar to this), except this cartoon is on a truly grand scale. As a director, Jaxon was focused on details, and also on music. This cartoon was a perfect fit for him.

And just to clarify, a commenter was confused about the fact that the film starts with the Overture to Zampa, but for the rest of the film features the William Tell Overture. This is because as the film starts, Mickey's band has just concluded Zampa. He then changes the card to "William Tell", the next number in the concert. This is, though, the composer's (Leigh Harline?) arrangement of William Tell, mixing the various movements in that Overture together, condensing it for one reel.


From Bill : Perhaps one of the most important cartoons of all, not just for Walt Disney. It excels in storyline, character development, gags and flow. Mickey and Donald are at their best, and other favorites like Horace and Clarabell complete the story. The animation was perfect, especially when the trees braided up Donald and the benches running away from the storm was a nice touch. If only cartoons were still made this way today!
From Maxwell Morton "Max" Goudiss : Contrary to popular belief, this is not the very first Mickey Mouse cartoon in living color. Parade of the Award Nominees, released on November 18, 1932, hold that honor and destination as the very first Mickey Mouse cartoon in living color.
From Michael J : This has always been a personal favorite of mine. The animation team pulled out all the stops for Mickey's long-awaited debut in Technicolor. Mickey's expressions are perfect as "the frustrated conductor" who is determined to lead his orchestra to glory no matter what!

I've always felt that Donald Duck seems to work better when his grating nature is balanced by another character who is a bit more easy going, which is why he worked so well as a supporting character for Mickey.

In this short, Donald is enjoying the orchestra so much and is so eager to join in the fun that he pulls out a flute and starts playing along. It's just unfortunate that he only knows one song... He's not mean-spirited or abrasive, just incompetent, and quite charming.


From Claude : Does the score to this amazing piece still exist? I think it would make a spectacular splash for a professional band to play this in sync with the video played on a huge screen. Disney should consider publication.
From Anonymous Kid : I used to watch this all the time when I was little and I still love it. I always wondered how Donald managed to hide a zillion flutes in his sleeves and up his shirt and in his hat.

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