Gallopin' Gaucho

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : August 2, 1928

Running Time : 6:22

Synopsis

Gaucho Mickey flirts tempestuously with Minnie in a cantina, but must come to her rescue when bandit Pete captures her. He only rescues her after a manic swordfight.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Pete

Credits

Director
Walt Disney
Animation
Ub Iwerks
Music
Carl Stalling

Cut Scenes

A scene of Minnie tango dancing has been cut, as well as scenes showing Mickey smoking.

Laserdiscs

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White: Volume 1
Japan
Mickey Mouse : The Black and White Years

DVD

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

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 28: Early Mickey
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 9
Donald's Quack Attack: Episode 27
The Mickey Mouse Club : April 15, 1957

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono : Cinephone
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by Celebrity Productions, Inc.

Comments

  • This short was made as a parody of the Douglas Fairbanks film, The Gaucho.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : The second Mickey short animated was Gallopin’ Gaucho, a nice little adventure showing what Ub had really intended for Mickey. At the time, the animator extraordinaire thought of Mickey as Douglas Fairbanks, the popular actor of the time. He was not the every man that Oswald was supposed to have been, but instead, Mickey was more of the adventuresome type, who took what he wanted, found adventure and followed his own path.

That’s very evident in this short, which shows a completely different side of Mickey than the symbol of family entertainment he would become. In this short, Mickey is a wanted man, who swings into a cantina and show off his toughness by smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer, and dancing the tango with Minnie.

The story follows a familiar tune to anyone who watched the Oswalds – after Mickey wins Minnie over, Pete (at least I think that’s who it is) shows up and kidnaps her. Mickey goes after them, then manages to best Pete in a swordfight before escaping with Minnie.

There are not as many changes in the animation in this short as there were in Plane Crazy, but here are still some interesting things to note. In the beginning, Mickey rides in on an ostrich, and comes back to it during the chase sequence. The ostrich provides a very good example of rubber hose animation, where the limbs of the characters flop about like a rubber hose, in an entertaining manner.

There’s also some great personality animation here, as you can see the derring-do in Mickey’s eyes when he swings into the cantina, the fire as he dances with Minnie, and the anger when he discovers his ostrich is drunk and not as useful as he might hope in the chase after Pete.

The actions of Mickey, though, are what really stand out. A Mickey that smokes, drinks beer, picks up women in a cantina and swordfights without fear is quite different than the image that most people carry around in their heads. It really typifies the difference in what the intention was for this new character and what he ultimately became.

Eventually, it would be Walt’s “watering down” of Mickey that drove Ub Iwerks away from the studio. Ub felt that he should be able to experiment with Mickey, while Walt was trying to find the best fit for his audience. It was a creative struggle that would define Walt to some degree. But that’s a story for later on.

(Update - 5/20 - Please read the comments, as David corrects me on this. It was Ub who wanted Mickey as the everyman and Walt who was looking for the adventurer. This does make more sense when you look at the next few Mickey shorts. My understanding that it was the other way around seems to have come from a passage in "The Hand Behind the Mouse" that I must have misinterpreted. So, read the comments and I'll address this in a future post.)

Gallopin’ Gaucho is also an example of the cohesive storytelling that developed in the Oswalds. Just like Plane Crazy, there is a simple plot – Mickey the gaucho finds Minnie, Pete takes her and a chase ensues – but that plot is the framework around which many gags are constructed.


From B. D. : That was definitely Pete - this cartoon marked his first appearance in a Mickey short, and apparently the first time he was shown with his familiar large, overpowering figure. I find it interesting that Pete changed so much between his final Oswald appearances and this short - in Sky Scrappers, he was menacing, but much skinnier, and looked like some kind of bear/weasel hybrid. Here, he's obviously a gigantic, fairly overweight cat, which is pretty much how he stayed. My theories on the change are that either:

a) Pete's appearance changed over the course of a few late Oswald cartoons which have been lost to history, or

b) He was intentionally redesigned for the Mickey shorts in order to give Mickey an adversary who was a cat.

Another interesting point is that Lantz actually used Pete in a few of his Oswalds, before the Disney's Pete became too recognizable for this to be feasible. The contrast is shocking; it almost seems as if they're two separate characters


From David Gerstein at Ramapith : Here's what happened with Pete, as far as I can figure:

1) When Disney legally separated himself from Oswald by refusing to work more cheaply for Mintz, he effectively separated himself from the rest of the Oswald cast of characters, too. These other Oswald characters officially included Pete, of course.

2) When it was time to give Mickey an enemy, then, Walt's crew didn't think they could use Oswald's Pete, thus a new design for a cat villain — as opposed to Pete, who up to then had been a bear.

3) Some attempts were evidently made to give the new cat villain a new name. I haven't seen written documents on Gallopin' Gaucho or The Barn Dance, but the story script on Steamboat Willie calls the villain simply "the Captain," and the first ads for the Mickey Mouse comic strip call him "Terrible Tom." BUT...

4) Evidently, Disney staff couldn't get around the fact that this was really just their earlier villain with a modified species. So by April 1930, when the character was named in the actual comic strip, he was once again called Pegleg Pete, and the name stuck.

5) Despite all of the above, Oswald's bear version of Pete was actually used for a very long time at Universal; longer than you seem to suggest, B.D.! The latest cartoon I've seen him in is the 1937 Lantz short Steel Workers, where he's still got his Disney-era stovepipe hat and pegleg!

"Eventually, it would be Walt's 'watering down' of Mickey that drove Ub Iwerks away from the studio."

It's a long time since I've read "The Hand Behind the Mouse" or watched the documentary based on it. But does this understanding come from there? I've read other references that suggested that Walt wanted Mickey to be the Fairbanks-type hero, and that Walt rebelled when Ub wanted to make Mickey a bungling everyman.

Support for this version of events can be found in the actual work of the two men after the split: post-Iwerks Mickey Mouse comics, written by Walt up until the summer of 1930, show Mickey as quite the determined fighter in adventure scenarios; in one April strip, this Mickey — trudging through the basement of the villains' stronghold — remarks that he wishes he had a beer! Iwerks' Flip the Frog, by contrast, is a bungling everyman from the moment of his creation.

Walt's Mickey doesn't drink or smoke after 1930, but he remains quite the Fairbanks type in adventure scenarios as late as the mid-1930s; you'll see.


From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : David, yes, that's where my understanding came from, so maybe I need to check my sources again. I was under the impression that it was the opposite of what you were saying, but I would easily defer to your years of study on this topic.

My interpretation from reading the book/seeing the movie was that Walt kept tinkering with Ub's drawings to make them more "audience friendly". That was what I was referring to, so perhaps I misread that info.

The way you present it makes more sense, though, when looking at Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie. And, since I'm trying to work ahead, it also fits with The Barn Dance and The Opry House. Interesting, I guess I have some re-reading to do!


From Mac : One of the cool things about this short is how Mickey's character design changes midway. He starts out the short looking as he did in Plane Crazy, but when he emerges from the cantina his goggle eyes are gone and he looks more like the Steamboat Willie Mickey. Must have been that beer!

I wonder how similar this short is similar to the Oswald cartoon Harem Scarem. Of course I've never seen it, but the story follows Oswald's girl being kidnapped by Pete the sheik and charging to her rescue on a drunken camel. Artwork for the poster (reproduced in "Walt in Wonderland") depicts Oswald clutching a beer and winking at the dancing Sadie, brining to mind an early scene of Gallopin' Gaucho. Animation drawings in "Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life" show Oswald kicking the drunken camel, reminding me of Mickey's frustrations with his Ostrich.


From Patrick Malone : Just two quick points:

1: The animal Mickey rides in on is not an ostrich, although I'm not even sure the Disney animators were aware of it. It is a rhea. Ostriches are not indigenous to Argentina, but the rhea is.

2: This was one of the only shorts that Disney parodied later on. It's reflected in the short Gallopin' Romance which is the film that sends everyone into convulsions within the short Mickey's Gala Premiere.

I agree that Mickey is much more rowdy in these early shorts, although it's difficult assigning a specific character to him at this point. He seems to swing from hero to victim from short to short.


From David Gerstein at Ramapith : At Disney, I've seen some pencil animation from Harem Scarem. I believe it was considered for use on the DVD (a la Sagebrush Sadie), but too many drawings were missing to create smooth motion.

Nevertheless, I've seen enough to say that Harem was definitely an ancestor to both Gallopin' Gaucho and the later Mickey in Arabia. Oswald's camel gets drunk and greets him tipsily almost exactly in the manner of Mickey's rhea (or Mickey's later camel, though that camel is less humanized). Oswald meets Sadie in a cantina and watches her dance much as Mickey would watch Minnie's tango. Oswald even licks a head of beer off his face exactly as Mickey would.


From Jerry Edwards : I enjoy the cartoon, but the sound doesn't do much for the short - it was obviously animated as a silent cartoon, with sound added later.

I like several gags in the short. Mickey riding an ostrich instead of a horse and tying the ostrich's neck to the hitching post. When the ostrich later collapses in a drunken stupor during the chase of Pete to rescue Minnie, Mickey "straightens" the ostrich with starch from a nearby farmhouse wash tub.

One early sight gag is a wanted poster in the cantina for El Gaucho.


From Calvin Daprice : In this short, Mickey starts out as having those large eyes with the pupils in them as he did in Plane Crazy. The only difference is that he now has shoes. By the end of the cartoon, he has his black oval eyes.
From Ryan : At the beginning of this short, Mickey does have his googly Felix- the -Cat- type of eyes. At the end, they do turn into ovals. This is the first Mickey short in which Mickey meets Pete. This short appears to take place in Argentina as the sign on the restaurant reads "Cantina Argentina." One thing that puzzles me is why Mickey rides an ostrich rather than a horse (seeing as there are no ostriches in South America). Another thing that puzzles me is why the scene with Minnie tango dancing was deleted. I see nothing offensive about that. Perhaps it was deleted to fit within a certain time frame.
From Lee Suggs : This short is interesting in that Mickey was still a rogue. He smokes, drinks and tries to impress a barmaid. Of course, Minnie is the barmaid, not a job that fits with the sweet image she has today. When Pete appears he is a smaller, more fluid, less menacing character than he would be in later shorts. Mickey, Minnie, and Pete seem all seem to come the same lower class, rough background. Mickey has not yet developed any moral weight, and the main difference between the villain (Pete), and Mickey is that Pete is willing to force himself on Minnie. It is interesting that Mickey developed into such a moral force when he began as such an ambivalent rodent.
From Bill : I'm very fortunate to have all of Mickey's shorts, color and black and white. It is very interesting to see how his character started to develop from a cigarette smoking, beer drinking gaucho to the better known hero to children, the downtrodden and anyone else who would have been bullied by the stronger opponent. Again, this "second" silent short begins with Mickey saving Minnie from Pegleg Pete, a formula we'll see throughout Mickey's career. The tango with Minnie is well animated and the sword fight is also a classic. It also shows Minnie Mouse at the start of her career as a rough and tumble saloon dancer, almost like the flappers of the time. Again, a great historical short in Mickey's career.
From Emiliano : There are no ostriches in South America, however there are Rheas. Rheas, also known as nandu are large flightless birds native to South America. More specifically Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. They are very similar in size and appearance to ostriches. This one is my favorite of the first four Mickey cartoons. It's a product of it's time obviously but that's one of the reasons I like it. The fact that Mickey smokes and drinks is also highly amusing as far as I'm concerned.
From Gijs Grob : Gallopin' Gaucho is Mickey's second and last silent cartoon. If possible, he is even ruder in this short than in Plane Crazy: according to a poster in the background, he is a sought-after criminal, he smokes and drinks and he dances a stout tango with Minnie. Nevertheless, this cartoon is also the first in which Mickey shows to be a small, but clever and courageous hero. For when Minnie is abducted by Peg Leg Pete (who, in his first appearance, still has both his legs), Mickey rescues her in a heroic fight. He then earns the kiss he tried to get by force in Plane Crazy. Due to the melodrama Gallopin' Gaucho contains less gags than Plane Crazy, but it's still a wonderful cartoon with ingenious gags like the scene in which Mickey uses his own tail as a tackle. Gallopin' Gaucho also set out a storyline that was to be copied a couple of times (e.g. The Cactus Kid (1930), Mickey in Arabia (1932), The Klondike Kid (1932)) and self-consciously parodied in Gallopin' Romance, the film shown in Mickey's Gala Premiere. Two final trivial remarks: one, Mickey's eyes change from the goggly to the familiar ones when he whistles for his ostrich. Two, the bird Mickey's riding might very well be a Rhea, a relative of the ostrich, that lives on the pampas of Argentina.
From Steven : This was a great cartoon with plenty of funny gags. This cartoon also features one of Carl Stalling's best musical scores in a Disney cartoon, but it's pretty obvious that this was originally a silent cartoon (the characters say things but no talking comes out.) A great cartoon, I give it a 7 out of 10.
From Robert Hanbury-Sparrow : The music at the beginning and end is so awesome.

Referenced Comments