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The Country Cousin

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : October 31, 1936

Running Time : 9:15

Synopsis

Abner is invited by his cousin Monty to leave Podunk behind and move to the big city. But he soon learns that the hidden dangers of big city life are not all they are cracked up to be.

Characters

Abner Countrymouse
Monty Citymouse

Credits

Director
Dave Hand
Wilfred Jackson
Asst. Director
Graham Heid
Animation
Milt Schaffer
Johnny Cannon
Marvin Woodward
Les Clark
Art Babbitt
Jack Hannah
Paul Allen
Cy Young
Layout
Ferdinand Horvath
Story
Bill Cottrell
Dick Rickard
Music
Leigh Harline

Source

Based on the story "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse"

Awards

Academy Award winner (Short Subjects - Cartoons)

Cut Scenes

An extended sequence where the Country Mouse gets drunk was snipped out at one time.

Video

United States
Cartoon Classics : First Series : Volume 5 : Disney's Best of 1931-1948
Germany
Meister-Cartoons von Walt Disney
France
Les Chefs-d'Oeuvre de Walt Disney
Italy
I Capolavori di Walt Disney

Laserdiscs

United States
Disney's Best of 1931-1948
Japan
The Academy Award Review of Walt Disney Cartoons

DVD

United States
Timeless Tales Volume 2
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Germany
Aristocats (Special Edition)
Aristocats
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
France
Les Aristochats
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Italy
The Aristogatti
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Sweden
The Aristocats
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
United Kingdom
The Aristocats
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 53: Silly Symphonies at the Zoo
The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 23: The "Other" Mice
The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 1: Award Winners
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 32

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 an interview with Art Babbit conducted by Michael Barrier in 1986. . This excerpt is used with the kind permission of Mr. Barrier. :

BARRIER: I asked Wilfred Jackson about what he remembered about your work on Country Cousin, and I specifically asked if this had been a situation where you expanded a scene as you did in Moving Day [which was released earlier the same year, 1936]. Jackson said:

"To the best of my recollection this sequence of the little drunk mouse was pictured in very complete detail on the storyboard, as was usual. What was a bit unusual about this particular picture as compared to most of them at about this time, and one of the things that comes to mind most readily about it, is that I was assigned to direct it way ahead of time, instead of abruptly finding out I was to direct it after the story work was nearly finished as so often happened when the studio was this large. This meant that I had more than the usual opportunity to be in on the details of the cartoon business throughout the story—including the drunk mouse scenes. And so, I had even more than a usually clear picture in my own mind of what we were after. This is why I think it likely I would recall anything substantially different in the final result from what we started out to get. I can recall the fun all of us had acting out for each other, our own versions of how the little drunk mouse would do the things we selected to picture on the storyboard. . . .

"When Country Cousin was okayed for production and moved into the music room, and while I was timing and planning it for animation, it seems to me there was about the usual amount of changing and reworking parts of it before Walt finally okayed it to proceed into actual animation. I believe Art was assigned to pick up the drunk scenes long enough ahead of time to be in on this stage of preparing his parts of it, and I'm fairly certain that after Walt okayed it for animation and Art came in to actually 'pick up' his assignment, each last little move the mouse was expected to make on the screen had been timed down to the exact frame on the exposure sheets, and a rough piano score had been composed by Leigh Harline, so it was possible for me to demonstrate for Art a pretty complete concept of the actions we all had decided on. Also, the staging, camera angles and scene cuts would have been predetermined and clearly nailed down by the layouts before Art began his animation—all that was standard procedure at the time.

"When Art came into the music room after all this conferring and preparation, for the purpose of getting his exposure sheets and layouts to take back to his own room and begin animating the drunk scenes, I'm sure he and I reviewed everything we expected the mouse to do in complete detail. And, I'm sure too, Art made the usual amount of new suggestions and requests for changes in our planning and timing, which required the usual amount of revising and re-timing on my part before he took the sheets and layouts away. This was par for the course in handling out work to an animator, and I believe I would remember it if we had done it much differently. For example, I do not recall handing out exposure sheets with an open end on the timing—but rather, each scene must have had a start marked on a particular frame relating it to the planned musical score and a cut marked on it to show when the scene was to end and how long it would be—just as was the usual thing. Nor do I recall any of Art's scenes with a carte blanche exposure sheet in which he would be turned loose to animate the mouse doing whatever might come into Art's mind for him to do. I'm certain I would remember the departure from our usual procedure if this sort of thing had been done.

"Instead, I believe each individual thing the mouse was to do, how he would do it, why he was doing it that way, how long he would take to do it, how large he would appear on the screen, which direction he was facing in relation to the camera, etc., etc.,etc., had all been agreed on between the two of us before Art took his drunk mouse scenes to his room to begin animating them. I'm sure, too, that it was understood between the two of us that all this pre-planning was not expected to result in dictating to Art exactly how he must animate each thing. It was only how we both thought, at that time, he thought he was going to do it.

"I do not recall it specifically, but I'm sure on the drunk mouse scenes there was a little more than the average amount of Art coming to the music room, or calling me to his animation room, to discuss changes in the agreed-on actions—and a little more than the usual amount of revisions of my own planning to accommodate them during the time he was making his rough animation drawings. This was the kind of action where more of that was to be expected, and Art was the kind of animator who could be expected to animate his scenes in his own individual way, too. …

"I believe I'm trying to say something like this:

"The things the drunk mouse was to do, and what his attitudes and reactions were to be, came from all of us who had been working on the picture. The extremely skillful way all of this was so effectively brought to life on the screen through his animation was Art's own personal achievement."

BABBITT: I think that's a very honest appraisal. As I recall, everything was pretty much agreed upon. There might have been slight variations in timing, and things like that, but I don't remember having any difficulties with Jackson at all—none—on that mouse thing. In fact, I was so dismayed by my own efforts on that picture that I couldn't wait for vacation time to come around, because I wanted to get the hell out of there. I thought it was so bad, the stuff that I was doing.

There's an anecdote that goes with this Country Cousin. Walt came into the room as I was picking up the work from Jackson, and he said, "You know what I would like to see you do in this Country Cousin"—he had just seen Moving Day—"I'd like to see you get that same kind of personality, that same kind of invention," or whatever words he used, "that you did in Moving Day." "Yeah, Walt, but there's one hitch." "What's that?" "If I'm going to do a drunken mouse, I have to have a research fund." "Jesus Christ, the front office is complaining about expenses already." One eyebrow went down, one went up, and he left the room. Three or four months later, when the picture was previewed at the theater, and people fortunately liked it, he was waiting for me at the boxoffice. He nudged me and said, "Hey, Art, about a cocktail?" I said, "No, thanks, Walt, I've got a date with a blonde." It wasn't a blonde, it was a brunette, but I didn't want to be involved.

I never had a problem with Jackson. The one thing that irritates me about Country Cousin is that so many bad books give credit for directing that to Dave Hand. Dave Hand never entered the room; he had nothing to do with it.

Let me just settle this Jackson thing. He was the top director; I agree with whatever he says. He's been very generous, and very honest, in his report. I don't claim credit for creating it all; of course it went through many, many channels before it got to him, and he gave me the information as thoroughly as he was able to, and if anything was added it was because of my own personal quirks. But I don't claim any additional credit for it.


From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Not too long ago, I lamented that the Silly Symphonies had been lackluster in 1936, possibly due to the attention that Walt and his crew were paying to Snow White. I am happy to say that seeing The Country Cousin has revived my faith in the series, as it is a wonderfully funny and charming short.

As you could probably guess, this is a well-worn story, of the country mouse coming to the city to live with the city mouse. But just because we’ve all seen it or heard it a few times doesn’t detract from this version.

First of all, Abner, the country mouse, is a fantastic character. His design is different enough from Mickey to be distinct while keeping certain features, like the rounded face and ears. Instantly upon seeing him, I felt empathy for the poor guy. He is likeable right away, which is important because of the things he does in the short.

What things are those? Well, when Abner steps inside the palatial home that his city cousin, Monty, has inhabited, he is treated to a world full of light, lush furnishings, and most of all – food! There is a whole table full of food for Abner to indulge in, on one condition. He has to be quiet.

And that’s where the trouble lies. Abner gets overwhelmed by the amount of food available, and can’t control himself. He manages to keep from letting out yells or exclamations, but when he begins chomping down on some celery, he’s making just as much noise as if he had yelled.

In a lot of ways, this part of the short is very much like Giantland, the black and white Mickey short that tells the story of Mickey climbing up a beanstalk to confront a giant. This is very similar, with the two mice on the table trying to avoid waking up a cat that is sleeping nearby. Their escapades into the “giant” food are quite humorous, especially when Abner gets into the sparkling wine.

I seriously had to wonder what kind of family makes a feast like this then leaves it sitting out for several minutes with no one watching it. I mean, really, who does that? Their negligence ends up letting Abner box himself in Jell-O, as well as get really lit on champagne.

You can imagine what ends up happening – Abner makes a mess, the noise wakes up the cat, and chaos ensues. What’s interesting, though, is that Abner runs away from the cat, but that is not the gag fest you would expect. Instead, the focus is more on Abner getting outside the house quickly, and the strange cars and people that he has to avoid.

This part of the short is surreal, with cars, bikes and people zooming past our country friend. The hustle and bustle of the city proves to be too much for him, and sends Abner running down the tracks back to his home. Monty lets him go, I guess, because we never see him again after the cat begins chasing Abner.

This is a fantastic short, with some fun gags, but mostly because of Abner. You can probably read my affection for the character. He’s cute, funny and endearing. Hopefully, we’ll see more of him in the future.


From Nic Kramer : Unfortunately, this was Abner's only film appearance. However an Audio-Animatronic version of both him and Monty were used in the now "extinct" theme park attraction, "the Mickey Mouse Revue".
From Mac : Another Silly Symphony that shows how far Disney animation has come. It's just full of energy, character and life. The character designs are great – very cute, but not sickly sweet as we saw in Elmer Elephant. There's also some wonderful artwork on display in the backgrounds and a wonderful scope of scale throughout the short. Sometime this sense of scale is used to create an impressive feeling of grandeur, but on the other hand it becomes oppressive and dangerous – very artfully done.
From Calvin Daprice : It appears that the scene with all the automobiles and humanized car horns was reused in the later cartoon, Mickey's Delayed Date.
From Jerry Edwards : The censored scene of the country mouse getting drunk is still censored in the recent Ink and Paint showings. Top quality animation and excellent adaptation of the Aesop Fable makes this one of my favorites. The censorship angers me because it makes a terrific short seem much more ordinary.
From Ryan : I loved this short back when I was younger. I always found it funny when the city mouse kept SHHH-ing Abner whenever he made noice (e.g. snapping a mousetrap so that he could get a piece of cheese). I also liked the scene where he got drunk on the wine and got the hiccups. In fact, he was so drunk that he would do a stupid thing like tease the cat. He walks up and kicks the cat's butt. Well as soon as he is chased out of the townhouse, he's getting a real taste of big city life. Oh my God wasn't that a nightmare? He runs home thinking "this city life isn't for me."
From Diann : I agree with the other comments. The censored scene should be reinstated. Or in the alternative, made available to those of us who enjoy and appreciate this early full animation from Disney. The backgrounds, however, offer a glimpse of what had "value" during the Depression. Unlimited fancy food served formally. I noticed the electrical connection for the lamp was a screw type, with a socket. A tiny scrap of history unintentionally offered.
From Jeff : Great short. If I remember well, the French version isn't censored. It's bad it's been cut in most of version, it was very funny.
From Baruch Weiss : I thought that this short wasn't too bad, the music was great and the background art and animation was wonderful. Also the scene with the country mouse running into the street with all those vehicles was later used in the 1947 short Mickey's Delayed Date.
From Dino Cencia : I loved this short! In fact, I loved the music. If you listen closely in the short, you can the same music from Toy Tinkers when the 2 mouses were on the table eating food. I heard that same music from Toy Tinkers and my favorite part is when Abner was drunk from drinking the wine and he has the   hiccups and Monty tells him to be quiet not to make noise. But then the 2 mouses see a cat sleeping and Abner was drunk and he wants to bother the cat, so he kicks the cat's butt and it hurts for the cat and the cat chases Abner around the house untill he came out the window and went down into a water pipe and runs with people walking and Abner runs down the tracks home. This is a good Silly Symphonies short. I give it a 79.
From Gijs Grob : A very beautifully executed rendering of the classic tale, The Country Cousin is a gem among the Silly Symphonies. Its story is lean and economical, its characterization highly effective and its silent acting superb. Particularly noteworthy is the drunken performance of the Country Cousin, animated by Art Babbitt, which belongs to the highlights of animation. Everyone who wants to know where "character animation" is all about, should go and watch this cartoon. One cannot find a better example of it. Besides this, The Country Cousin contains some very realistic animation of people's feet walking on the sidewalk. Indeed, the human realism of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) was not far away anymore. Thirteen years later, Tex Avery would explore the theme of The Country Cousin once again, albeit quite differently and way more silly, in his hilarious short "Little Rural Riding Hood" (1949).

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