Poster

Clock Cleaners

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : October 15, 1937

Running Time : 8:29

Synopsis

Mickey, Donald and Goofy attempt to clean a tower clock; gears, springs and all. The gears and springs have different ideas, as does a nesting stork.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Goofy
Donald Duck
Stork (unnamed)

Credits

Director
Ben Sharpsteen
Animation
Bill Roberts
Al Eugster
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Charles Couch
Wolfgang Reitherman

Cut Scenes

Mickey's fight with the stork was censored in the 80's.

Video

United States
Cartoon Classics : First Series : Volume 10 : Mickey's Crazy Careers
Fun on the Job
Germany
Bum, Bum, Bumerang
France
La Collection en Or des Studios Disney Volume 2
Disney Parade 2
Captain Mickey
Italy
Topolino Lupo di Mare
Cartoon Festival 1
Topolino e Soci
Cartoons Disney 1
Topolino 70 Anni di Avventure

Laserdiscs

United States
The Goofy World of Sports / Fun on the Job / Happy Summer Days
Japan
Mickey's Golden Jubilee
Disney Cartoon Festival 2
Mickey's Family Album
Mickey Mouse: A Star is Born

DVD

United States
The Great Mouse Detective
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)
Walt Disney's Funny Factory with Goofy
Have a Laugh : Volume 2
Germany
Basil der Grosse Mause Detektiv (Special Edition)
Alle Lieben Mickey
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)
France
Tout le Monde aime Mickey
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)
The Great Mouse Detective
Italy
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)
Basil L'Investigatopo
Il Mio Eroe Topolino
Canada
Have a Laugh : Volume 2
Walt Disney's Funny Factory with Goofy
Sweden
Alla Alskar Musse
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)
Master Detektiven Basilmus
United Kingdom
The Great Mouse Detective
Have a Laugh : Volume 2
Everybody Loves Mickey
Disney Treasures : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 1)

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 22: Classic Mickey
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 77
Donald's Quack Attack: Episode 60

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

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 RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.

Comments

  • This is the short that almost got Donald Duck banned from Wal-Mart. The Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American family association swore that he though he heard Donald Duck, in one of his may indecipherable tirades, quack a certain four letter word. He then succeeded in getting Wal-Mart to return the "Fun on the Job" videos to Disney and refuse to sell them. In reality, Donald is just saying "Sez you!"

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : This era of Disney shorts is truly my favorite, and Clock Cleaners is no exception to that. I have written here before about how much I love the trio features, where Mickey, Donald and Goofy work together at some menial job. The combination of the three with gags and other fun stuff is irresistible.

Clock Cleaners is a flat out fun short, mostly because it relies on that formula of mixing the three leads with unique situations suited to their temperament. It really seems like this era is when the animators began developing distinct personalities for all the characters. That’s the biggest development I have not discussed much so far – that Mickey and Goofy and Donald are all different characters, versus the past, when they all existed to conduct the latest dance or mile a minute gag.

For example, Goofy’s whole modus operandi is to be, well, the Goof. He’s easily surprised, somewhat unobservant, and generally good natured but not bright. That carries through here, where he’s cleaning the bell of the clock, but keeps getting knocked around by the bell ringing statues.

From there he stumbles around the top of the clock tower, eventually falling down, walking in a daze across a rope, falling only to jump back up off a flagpole and knock Mickey back inside. It’s the most hilarious sequence Goofy has been involved in so far, and again, foreshadows how he will be used in the future.

Donald is the other big star of this short, as you would expect. Mickey is not a full-fledged solo star anymore, sadly. Donald, though, is on the upswing, and this short features one of my favorite Donald gags. Donald tries to clean a spring, but ends up unraveling the coils. When he tries to hammer them back into place, the springs keep popping up, leading Donald to play a game of “Whac-A-Mole” with the spring.

But that’s not the best part (although I do love Whac-A-Mole). No, when Donald gets too irritated with the spring, the spring “talks” back. The vibrations of the spring seem to form words, which makes for a fantastic gag. Then, when Donald throws his hammer at the spring, it catches the hammer and throws it back, landing Donald in the gears of the clock.

It’s a fantastic gag, that is repeated at the end of the short, this time with all three members of the gang. Donald’s frustration plays perfect against the spring, which can be interpreted as either an imagined slight or possibly a real inanimate object coming to life. The great thing is that it can be read either way. And the shot of the gang in the gears of the clock, then unable to stop shaking after they drop off is priceless.

This short is a favorite among my family, simply for the last scene of the three shaking around. Mickey does have a little bit of fun with a stork perched in the clock, but for the most part, it is a fun time with Donald and Goofy. It’s an enjoyable short that makes me smile every time I see it.


From Mac : This is one of my absolute favorites too. I remember watching this along with On Ice when I was really little, and I think it was this double bill which cemented the Disney characters as one of my favorite things!

The fantastic sense of scale and height, along with all the giant mechanisms inside the clock really captures the imagination, but it's the characters that make the cartoon. Goofy's dangerous concussed walk and Mickey's desperate attempts to save him remains one my favorite Disney scenes ever. I love the combination of silliness and danger with the perfect music to fit it (and in turn the action then perfectly fits and keep in time to the music). It's actually quite a shock when Goofy falls through the gap in the ladder (I anticipated him walking across Mickey's back, but he doesn't get there in time), but the pay off is just perfect.


From Patrick Malone : The scene opens with a shot of an amazingly high skyscraper upon which is an absurd mechanical clock. Exactly why one would want to put such an intricate piece of machinery atop a building where no one would ever see it is beyond me, but Mickey, Donald and Goofy's job is to clean it; not to ask questions.

Mickey is outside cleaning the face by riding on the second hand. We pan to see Goofy inside toothbrushing the gears with what one hopes is industrial strength toothpaste. And Donald is mopping the gears clean. Donald heads over to the mainspring to mop it off, but somehow, get's his mophead caught in the spring, springing it loose which sets up a lot of the later gags in the short.

Meanwhile Mickey is dusting off some random gears which don't seem to be joined to anything, but clean he must. On one set he sees a sleeping stork which has made his bed on a set of gears. Mickey tries a few strategies to get him out of the tower, but only succeeds in getting himself hanging from a rope outside the skyscraper.

Back to Donald, who is busy trying to get the mainspring unsprung. And what better way to do it than to take a hammer and try to beat it into submission. But as soon as he gets one end in, the other end springs out. After attempting to argue the spring into behaving, he gets sprung into a spinning cogwheel, which makes him do what I call his "cogwheel dance." That is, his body shakes from left to right and as soon as he gets one part of his body stabilized, another part starts up.

Goofy is keeping busy beginning to clean out the bell in the tower itself, singing, "Loudly, the Bell in the Old Tower Rings", a song which gets play in at least one other Disney short. Tricky job, since it is apparently the top of the hour, and the bell-ringing mechanism is about to start up. Right on time, while Goofy is inside the bell, a "Father Time" character comes out and "BONG"; shaking Goofy violently. He comes out, looks around and goes back to work. From the other side a "Statue of Liberty" character comes out and "BONG"; shaking him again. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, you're Goofy, but he's not about to be fooled a third time. He looks out this time at the time of the "BONG" and ... nothing there. But as soon as he gets back inside the bell ... you guessed it ... "BONG!"

Goofy goes to the door of the clock to see who's doing this mischief when the "Statue of Liberty" comes back out. Goofy, all apologetic, not realizing that it was a lady, and gets "BONGED" again, right on the bean. This makes Goofy dizzy enough to begin his high-wire act on the skyscraper, the ladders, the ropes, a bar of soap, and anything else that gets in his way, finally culminating in him sending himself and Mickey back inside the clock, right into Donald, who has finally succeeded in taming the mainspring. But not for long, as the mainspring unsprings all three into their ending "cogwheel dance trio."

Clock Cleaners was produced in what I refer to as Disney's "Golden Years"; the years from 1932 - 1939 where they produced their best short subjects. One aspect that is often overlooked is the work of the background artists. Here, they have created a sense of perspective that is both clean and precise, giving the opening shots a feeling that would scare off Harold Lloyd. Watch the very first opening shot as well: look at the very bottom where the amount of detail is so precise that the little dots used to represent cars are actually moving as cars. There is also a great amount of detail given to the interior of the clockwork; even in the stones that make up the building itself. And if you want to see the amount of character that went into Goofy, watch his hands during the "high wire" scene. The animators were able to make Goofy look rubbery without losing the natural form of his body. Truly, classic work.


From Terrence : This short is one of the best from the 30's...the theme is always in your head as Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are together in this classic short. Love it! (It's 9 because the stork thing is a bit long!)
From Jerry Edwards : One of my favorite Mickey/Donald/Goofy shorts. The gags are fun, although each gag runs on a bit long at times. I love the use of perspective when Goofy is close to falling - I get dizzy just from how well they display the heights. Very nice animation and special effects.
From Lee Suggs : This is a wonderful short for two reasons. First it has the best backgrounds in any Disney short subject. The use of perspective and detail here is amazing. (Next time you see the short read the signs behind Donald when he first jumps on the mainspring.) Second is the use of physical comedy. This short doesn't have a lot of substance, but the slap stick gags just keep coming. What makes these gags wonderful is the effort the animators made in getting the characters to flow through them. The best example of this is when Goofy and Mickey and cheating death on the high rope. This short is as entertaining today as when it was made. This proves that Disney's philosophy that "quality will out" inspired, and can inspire, entertainment that will continue to amuse our children's children.
From Ryan : This is a classic short. I remember seeing it at a theater one time back in the 80's. Disney doesn't seem to re-release their shorts in theaters anymore. One thing that interested me as I was reading the previous comments was the first one. It talked about how Rev. Donald Wildmon of the AFA thought he heard Donald say "F*** You!" to the spring who seemed to be talking back to him. Now I will admit, it does somewhat sound like he is saying that, but of course we all know better. I mean that word wouldn't be allowed to be used in films back in those days. All films back then had what we would call a G-rating today. Rev. Wildmon needs to think about that. There's plenty of other things that are more offensive that the AFA could be attacking such as those new cartoons you'd find on Cartoon Network (e.g. "Cow and Chicken") or shows like "The Man Show" on Comedy Central. They'd just better leave the classic Disney cartoons alone.
From John Schaaf : My wife and I watched the 8 mm silent film version with our 3 year old daughter over and over again 25 years ago. We all howled with laughter. It is the funniest cartoon I have ever seen...even without a sound track. I plan to buy a video copy as soon as I can now that I know what tape it is on.
From Nikki : An ingenious creative display of the many ways to clean a clock. The music is very well done and fits every moment. Surprisingly if there is ever a bird that gives Mickey and friends a problem it's always a stork.
From Bill : The best short that Disney made in my opinion. The backgrounds were fantastic and there was much attention to detail. The animators really went all out on this one. One of the best features of this short was the gags, and the fact that Mickey, Goofy and Donald seemed to have equal billing getting into trouble. Again, many people complain about things that are frivolous; who would out a clock so high up or someone actually believing that a swear word would end up in a Disney short! It was non-stop fun and gags. If Disney would just make them them like this again they would not be able to keep up with the demand!
From Rebecca : This is definitely one of my favorite Disney cartoon shorts featuring the famous trio, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, doing what they do best: entertaining! In my opinion, Goofy is what makes this short feature so charming. He is animated so well in this feature that that in itself makes the cartoon so great, and the gags are sequenced flawlessly. Top notch!
From Bo Engwall : This is another of the few really early Disney cartoons I saw the first time around 1970 are a little bit earlier at the movies in Sweden. I had then just discovered that Carl Barks was the name of my favorite comic book artist, both for his splendid art work especially around 1948-1950 and intelligent stories, and I soon learned that the early Disney movies from the thirties were of similar top quality. I became eager to learn who was drawing those wonderful pictures in cartoons like Clock Cleaners . A lot of "master craftsmen" to discover!
From Grace : Absolutely one of my favorite Mickey, Donald and Goofy cartoons. It's amazing of how patient Mickey can be, Goofy reminded me of a tight rope walker in a circus and Donald well let's just face it he was more like wrestling the spring. But anyway in the ending where Mickey, Donald and Goofy were in some sort of dance trio, the music is Snake in a Basket and the dance reminded me of them wearing belly dancer costumes with makeup and veils.
From Katelyn : I saw this one on TV once, though I don't remember exactly when. Another classic cartoon with our favorite trio. I felt sorry for all three of 'em. I admire Mickey's patience when dealing with the stork, and Goofy, well...what can I say. That was a funny part. I can't believe that they accused Donald of swearing at the spring though. That's just stupid. Why would Disney allow that type of language anyway? But I digress. It was really funny, so I'll give it a 9.
From Baruch Weiss : In 1994 this cartoon was voted #27 of the 50 greatest cartoons of all time by the members of the animation field and I can see why. A beautiful musical score can be heard during the title presentation among other things!

As mentioned before this cartoon had Donald being accused of saying the "F" word to the main spring and I disagree. 100% Donald definitely said "Sez You." I own a censored version of this cartoon on "Mickey Mouse in Living Color" and it's censored as we can hear Pluto barking in the soundtrack!


From Bryan Hensley : I own 2 versions of this short on home video. My original from Disney's Special Edition Cartoon Classics VHS volume entitled "Fun on the Job", and the next one on Disney's Funny Factory Volume 3 on DVD (which starred Goofy). The VHS seems unedited since Donald says to the mainspring "says you", and the spring says "says I". (Turn on the closed-captioning on your TV to see what I mean if you have this video!) Then Donald shouted "I'll break you, you doggone snake in the grass!" But on the DVD I have that features this short, was edited. Donald never said any dirty words in this short to begin with! The last scene had Donald saying other stuff entirely!

Donald: "aw, nuts..." (from On Ice in 1935, right down to Pluto barking!)
Mainspring: "says I" (unedited)
Donald: "I'll..." (Then he made angry quacking noises from another short!)

I never even heard such language anywhere until my Middle school years! That's why I've always known that Donald only said "says you" to the mainspring to start with! How does Walmart get away with selling R-rated and unrated movies that have such language nonstop anyway? (They almost banned the Fun on the Job video because of it, even though Donald never said that word in reality.)


From Maggie Roach : I'd just like to say that I agree to what everyone is saying about what Donald was really saying in this short. I listened to Donald very carefully when he was arguing to the talking spring and this is what I heard: Donald: Oh, yeah? Spring: Oh, yeah. Donald: Says who? Spring: Say I. Donald: I'll bust you, you doggone snake in the grass! I guess the real reason why they censured it is because they couldn't understand what Donald was saying.

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