Poster

The Barn Dance

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : March 14, 1929

Running Time : 7:45

Synopsis

Mickey wants to take Minnie to a dance, but Pete's flashy car beats Mickey's horse-drawn wagon as her transportation of choice. At the dance, Mickey uses some balloons to make himself light on his feet - the perfect dancing partner - but this doesn't keep Minnie at his side for long, either.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Pete
Parrot (I)

Credits

Director
Walt Disney
Animation
Ub Iwerks
Music
Carl Stalling

DVD

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 60: Mickey's Boogie

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

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : The last of the 1928 Mickey Mouse films is The Barn Dance, which is a strange little short. However, it may give us a better insight into Walt and the animators than some of the earlier shorts.

At its core, The Barn Dance is simply an extension of Rival Romeos, the Oswald cartoon. Mickey and Pete show up at Minnie’s house, looking to take her to the dance. After some waffling, Minnie ends up with Mickey, and they go to the barn dance. In the barn, Mickey has some trouble dancing, constantly stepping on Minnie’s feet, so Pete cuts in. Mickey tries to come back, popping a balloon in his pants to keep his feet up, but after Pete pops the balloon, Mickey ends the short alone.

The story is simple enough, but there are some great gags. When Mickey’s constantly stepping on Minnie’s feet, his feet grow larger and larger. The comedy of seeing the oblivious Mickey and the increasingly dismayed Minnie is classic.

The score is actually very repetitive in this short, where as it was varied in Gallopin’ Gaucho and Steamboat Willie. Most of that is due to the music being played at the barn for the dance, but it’s not that varied even in the first portion of the film. The voices of the characters, which have been poor in the previous shorts, are done better here. Mostly, the characters just have musical cues or light squeaks that are not as distracting as they were in the earlier shorts.

What really stands out to me from this short, though, is what it reveals about the men who made it. One key sequence to me is right at the beginning. Mickey pulls up to Minnie’s house in a horse and buggy, followed shortly by Pete in an early model automobile. When Minnie comes out, she chooses Pete first, but the car falters. Then, she goes over to Mickey and the horse and buggy.

It’s an obvious commentary on the value of old-fashioned ways of doing things, and it’s very interesting, considering what had happened before. Remember Walt selling his car to finance the second recording session for Steamboat Willie? Think he might have held a little resentment towards cars later in 1928? Just a thought, but it’s something to consider.

The actual barn dance itself is another reflection of the animators. Having come from the Midwest themselves, you would think that most of them had been to one of these dances. Their audience in New York or Los Angeles probably had not. So, the animators were able to bring some of their background to a whole new audience, making it feel fresh and new. The Disney animators definitely grounded Mickey in barnyard humor in his early shorts, so it will be interesting to watch the settings change as we go along.

The Barn Dance is good, but not outstanding. There are no real standout pieces of animation, and it just doesn’t stand out to me among all the shorts I’ve seen. However, the quality is still much higher than the Alice Comedies, and on par with many of the Oswalds.


From Mac : One thing I like about this short is how the characters still communicate in pantomime – the scene where Mickey ask Minnie if he can kiss her, for example, is done entirely without words. I really like the visual language in these early cartoons rather than a reliance on dialogue. I suppose a big part of the reason for this is that the characters still don't have proper talking voices and are stuck with their funny squeaky sounds. However, there is one tiny sigh that Mickey does (when stuck as a 'wall flower' by the balloons) which sounds like the proper Mickey voice as performed by Walt Disney.


From Ryan Wilson : If you asked me what my favorite Disney short is I probably couldn't give you a specific one, but this is on my top 10 list. It reminds me of a night when I went to my senior prom with a friend of mine (I didn't have a girlfriend then). I was low on cash so I drove my car up there, but then came the best football player in school riding in a shiny black limo. Unfortunately the limo didn't fall apart like Pete's car did so she rode with him. At the prom, I danced with her, but like Mickey, I was an awful dancer. She danced with the other guy and I went home and cried kind of like Mickey did at the end of the cartoon.
From Jerry Edwards : While I consider this short rather boring, there are a few gags I enjoy. I enjoy that when Mickey's horse goes into a trot, the buggy's wheels also go into a trot. Mickey's face turning into a donkey's face when Minnie confronts him over his clumsy feet is a fun gag.

The ending was quite a shock to me when I first saw it - Mickey left crying on the floor.


From Lee Suggs : This is the fourth of the Mickey Mouse shorts, and interesting in many ways. First the parrot from Steamboat Willie is on Mickey's porch. It doesn't make sense he'd be there, and I don't believe he ever appears again. Maybe they wanted to connect this short to Steamboat Willie's success. It is also interesting that "Pete's" appearance is so different than his appearance in earlier shorts. I actually believe that this isn't Pete. (He has two legs for one thing, something the animators didn't so consistently until much later.) If it is him he looks and acts completely differently than he did in any other short. It is also interesting that Mickey is such an awkward dancer considering how skilled he is at this later. Finally Minnie is clearly not Mickey's "girl" in this short. She is in fact very nasty and shallow. (Whoever has the most interesting transportation is her date?!) I think why were seeing here is the evolution of the Mickey, Minnie, and "Pete" characters. Disney at this point hadn't settled on their personalities. So even if this short is quite primitive, it does provide an interesting insight on the development of the Disney characters.
From Ryan : As Lee Suggs pointed out, this short was quite different than most Mickey shorts. Pete is the one who Minnie falls in loves with and ends up dancing with. My first reaction seeing Mickey left crying on the floor was "Aw, poor Mickey!" I had long wondered what the name of the second song was that the band was playing. Then I saw that someone on the Message Boards had a question about it and there was a reply. It was "Reuben and Rachel."
From Rachel Newstead : The first Mickey short after the history-making Steamboat Willie, this cartoon has much of the crudeness of that cartoon, yet lacks much of its vitality. For the first time, however, we are treated to a more coherent story featuring Disney's newest star.

We see Mickey plodding along in his horse-drawn cart, on his way to pick up Minnie for the dance. Minnie, grabbing her voluminous bloomers from the clothesline, greets him with a "Yoo-hoo," probably the first instance in which she or Mickey do not communicate in squeaks.

No sooner does Mickey arrive than he's promptly shown up by Pete, who has come in his brand-new car, honking loudly. Not to be outdone, Mickey grabs a duck and squeezes it, providing some impromptu honking of his own. (Which provides us with probably the first intelligible dialogue in a cartoon, from Minnie's parrot--"Stop that blankety-blank noise!!") Minnie, fickle thing that she is, snubs Mickey and prepares to ride off with Pete, whose car falls apart the moment he starts it. Figuring any transportation is better than none (wonderful gal, isn't she?) she rides off with Mickey and his nag.

At the dance, we quickly learn that Mickey is anything but the hero in this picture. He's an awkward dancer (illustrated by feet that get larger and more ungainly with every step), pulling poor Minnie's legs out of shape. Worth noting is that in these early days, much of the wild distortion of early cartoons is still in effect--Minnie simply ties her stretched-out leg in a knot and cuts off the excess. (Disney would soon abandon this kind of Felix-like bodily distortion). In an effort to win her back, Mickey resorts to deception--putting balloons in his pants, he becomes literally "light on his feet", and wins back Minnie, who has gone off with superior dancer Pete. The deception doesn't last long--the balloon pops and Minnie disgustedly walks off, snubbing him once again (we know this because her nose grows exceedingly large). The Mouse is left facing the audience, crying.

Several things are of interest here. As we've seen, Mickey has faults. He's jealous, a bit of a cad, and not above trickery to get the girl. Worse, he ends up the loser. This is perhaps the best example of the Ub Iwerks Mickey, who was a bit "edgier" before he was cleaned up for public consumption. Knowing the corporate symbol Mickey would eventually evolve into, this is a bit jarring to first-time viewers. Yet, in a way, it is probably the best incarnation of Mickey, because he has a fully fleshed-out personality, unheard of in a cartoon character of that era. It was obvious that while the Mouse lost this time, he was destined for greater things.


From Bill : This is another important Mickey short. This short and the next ten that followed are the shorts that defined Mickey And Minnie's relationship and personalities. Nothing is really defined here; Minnie is not Mickey's girl yet. She is very fickle and aloof towards Mickey, not like in future shorts. The story line is good, although this short is not as action-packed as some. The sight gags are great especially the one with the tuba player with the little valve letting out the saliva as he plays and the scene where Mickey's shoes get bigger and bigger. This shows the vast talent of Ub Iwerks. He was a master animator. I totally agree with Lee Suggs; that was not Pete. Recall Gallopin' Gaucho. Pete kidnapped her, and in Steamboat Willie he was also the foil. This was just another suitor that Mickey had to contend with. Another point; although the rubber hose method of animation is used here, I find it very funny; that's what the shorts are supposed to be. Trying to make them too human takes something away from them. Good early short.
From Steven : This is a very enjoyable cartoon with good animation by Ub Iwerks. It's a bit odd how Mickey doesn't win at the end though and it's a bit sad when he cries at the end. It's funny when Mickey's feet grow bigger and bigger and flatten Minnie. Recommended.
From Calvin Daprice : To start off, we've got Mickey Mouse riding in his horse-drawn buggy. He apparently has not gotten a car yet since he would most likely be riding in that. He wants the horse to go faster so he cracks his whip and the horse (as well as the whole buggy itself) begins trotting along.

Soon he arrives at Minnie's house where she is scene in a distance upstairs in her room powdering herself. She looks out the window , greets Mickey with her famous "Yoo Hoo!" (this is before that song was written), and pulls in a pair of bloomers from her clothesline. Well before you know it, Pete comes driving by in his brand new car. In fact, I could not believe for a moment that this was actually Pete. He was so friendly and well-mannered. To top it all off, he was the perfect gentleman. Minnie comes out with both Pete and Mickey greeting her on both sides of the gate. She sees Pete's car and runs over to it, honking the horn. Pete starts up the car by turning the crank (this was in the days before the instant turn-the-key ignition). He hops in and waves goodbye to Mickey, but soon enough the car collapses. Mickey stands by his carriage all forlorn and disgusted when to his amazement, Minnie comes by. The two of them hop into the buggy and are on their way. Mickey, trying to steal a kiss from Minnie, has a bit of trouble with the horse's tail always getting in the way. He ties a 50 Lb weight to it, but it just comes off. He finally succeeds by pulling the horse's neck.

At the barn dance, Mickey and Minnie are dancing to "Pop Goes the Weasel." Mickey is sure enjoying it, but I could say less about Minnie who's feet are literally being squashed and stretched. The song is over as the dancers clap. Minnie eyes Mickey angrily and Mickey's face turns into a donkey's. Minnie cuts off part of her leg and ties it up again.

The fiddler (obviously the sheriff since he has a badge on) blows his nose and he, the tuba, and piano player begin playing another tune. Mickey asks Minnie to dance with him, but poor Minnie has had enough and accepts Pete's offer to dance. Minnie soon learns that Pete makes the perfect dancing partner.

Standing in the corner, Mickey stares longingly at the couple. He notices some balloons above him and gets an idea. He puts one in his shorts and floats over to Minnie and Pete. He asks Minnie to dance again, and she reluctantly accepts. But to her surprise, Mickey is a better dancer (with a little help of a helium-filled balloon). Pete finally figures out what's going on and pops the balloon in Mickey's pants, causing him to land on Minnie. Pete comes by and takes the popped balloon out of Mickey's pants. Minnie is pretty ticked off and resumes dancing with Pete. Poor Mickey is sitting on the floor crying when the cartoon closes.

So the next time any of you go to a dance and have trouble dancing, use a different method.


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