The Opry House

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : March 20, 1929

Running Time : 7:25

Synopsis

Mickey owns and performs at his own theatre, going in drag as a harem girl, in a derby as a Hasidic Jew, and finally in a wig as a fancy pianist.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse

Credits

Director
Walt Disney
Music
Carl Stalling

DVD

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
The Mickey Mouse Club : February 28, 1956

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 : Next up in our cavalcade of Mickey magic is The Opry House, a short that I really have mixed feelings about. It’s entertaining for sure, but it’s also somewhat repetitive, and it doesn’t feature any real standout sequences.

The short follows a very simple story – in a makeshift building, Mickey is putting on a vaudeville show for a variety of farm animals. The short opens with him outside sweeping up as the guests come in, and he even helps a large customer get in by pricking him with a pin to deflate him. The show inside consists of Mickey doing a Middle Eastern number as a snake charmer and belly dancer, then a piano playing sequence where the piano plays back.

One thing you notice right off the bat is that this is a short that was designed for sound. From the very beginning, there are no musical notes flying in the air, and when Mickey starts whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy, he is really doing it on the soundtrack. It’s even more evident inside, when the music plays and Mickey is doing his belly dance.

It’s also interesting to see another vaudeville show. It’s really a running theme, all the way back to Alice’s Wild West Show, when Alice put on a vaudeville style show in her backyard. There was a similar set up in Bright Lights, the Oswald short, which was in a bit more upscale setting. We’ll see this again in the Mickeys once we get to color. It’s rather obvious that Walt had a flair for showbiz.

Even more so, Walt has shown a preference for making barnyard animals into an orchestra. The orchestra in this short is made up of animals, but it also features acts like a pig yanking on a cat’s tail to make some of the music. Again, this is a recurring theme. Even in the Laugh-O-Grams, Julius did this with some of the animals, and we saw it again in the Alice Comedies and Steamboat Willie.

It’s obvious that there’s a barnyard humor theme throughout the early Mickey Mouse shorts. What’s strange is that there was not such a theme in the Oswald series. Oswald’s cartoons took place in the big city, on the plains of war, or on a mountain trolley. But so far in the Mickey shorts, we’ve seen Plane Crazy, The Barn Dance and The Opry House take place in a barnyard setting. Why the change?

I’m not sure what the answer is, really. It’s obvious that Walt and his animators were influenced by their backgrounds, but that didn’t affect what they did in the Oswald shorts as much as it has seemed to in the Mickeys. I have not seen many of the upcoming shorts, but as Walt’s success grew in 1929, the year The Opry House was released, he hired more New York animators. I’ll be watching to see if the barnyard ethos changes as that happens.

The Opry House is a good short, like I said, but there are some repetitive sequences. The piano sequence, with Mickey playing and the piano fighting back, goes on far too long. When Mickey’s playing, it’s not nearly as visually interesting as it is when the piano starts kicking him away and playing itself. The musical sequences are a problem in these early Mickeys, because they derail any chance at a story the shorts have.


From B. D. : One interesting note about this cartoon is that it's when Mickey first gains his familiar white gloves. Oddly enough, he doesn't have them on at the start of the short, but he does by the end - I haven't seen it yet myself, but I believe he puts them on in order to play the piano. It's strange - we're only five cartoons into the Mickey series, and we're already seeing his appearance begin to change, with the eye-modification in The Galloping Gaucho and the gloves in this film. And the changes always seem to happen during the film!
From Mac : Another enjoyable early Mickey, but I don't think any of these sound cartoons have been quite as good as Steamboat Willie yet.

In addition to everything that's already been mentioned, another interesting thing about this one is it features the first use of the Hungarian Rhapsody in a cartoon. The changing moods in this tune offer great comic potential for Mickey and later (with much more polish and sophisticated animation) for Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Donald and Daffy and others.

Regarding the barnyard theme of the early Mickey shorts, it's also noticeable how ramshackle everything is. There really is a barnyard atmosphere with lots of smoking and spitting. The very clean image associated with Disney wouldn't come until later. It is fun how there are recurring background and minor characters in these early ones. It seems one 'barnyard rule' was broken in this one though – that fat bloke appears to be a hippo!


From Jesus Daprice : I love the scene with the piano and the stool where they kicked Mickey off the stage. Typical humor of the time.
From Calvin Daprice : This is the first short in which Mickey obtains his gloves. In the beginning, he isn't wearing any, but when he plays the piano, that is when we first see them.
From Jerry Edwards : Mickey puts on a vaudeville show, which includes him doing impersonations of a snake charmer, belly dancer, and a Jewish dancer. In the closing scene, Mickey plays a concert pianist, including having "long hair." He plays the piano so roughly that the piano and piano stool retaliate, kicking him out of the scene. The piano and stool then take their bows with Mickey at the curtain call. The curtain falls on Mickey as he takes his bow. One fun gag sequence has Mickey sweeping the entrance, then playing with the broom. The broom then dances alongside Mickey and, when Mickey plays "horsey" with the broom, the broom bucks Mickey off. Although some reference works state that Minnie appeared in this cartoon, the only appearance in copies that I have seen have Minnie's appearance on a poster ad for "Yankee Doodle Girls." Enjoyable effort for a very early Mickey cartoon.
From Ryan : As Mr. Calvin Daprice pointed out, this is the first cartoon in which Mickey gets his famous gloves. I liked this cartoon quite a bit, except that the humanized piano and stool were a bit too weird for me. The song that Mickey plays on the piano is the same one that is played by Donald and Daffy Duck in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." It does not say that this short is on any certain TV program, but I do remember when I first saw it, it was on "Mickey's Mouse Tracks."
From Lee Suggs : This short is another example of the evolution of Mickey's character. Here we mostly see changes in his physical appearance. Of course, he gets his gloves, leading to almost all Disney cartoon characters wearing them. I've seen a few references to the ridiculous nature of the gloves on "MouseWorks" and in "A Very Goofy Movie". One does wonder why Disney kept the gloves after they weren't necessary. My understanding is that gloves were put on black and white cartoon characters to make their hands more visible. The advent of color made this technique obsolete, but the gloves stayed. The animators also play with Mickey's hair, something they stopped doing not too long after this. All in all a primitive short, but interesting as a step in Mickey's development.
From Bill : Again, this short is filled with music, a trademark of most of Mickey's shorts. As I stated in other reviews, I think that the music is just a great compliment to the action of Mickey's toons. I agree with Jerry Edwards; the scene with Mickey and the broom was well animated and funny. I think that the earlier shorts had more imaginative sight gags than the later ones. The piano and stool ganging up on Mickey was just funny. That's why the Mickey shorts were so enormously popular; because of just this style of humor. Another note; I thought that the tuba player looked a lot like Oswald The Rabbit. As for Mickey's gloves, I'm glad they were kept. It wouldn't seem like Mickey without them!
From Gijs Grob : Unlike The Barn Dance this cartoon relies heavily on sound and music. Mickey is the sole performer in a theater where he dances and plays music. He even dresses up as a female belly dancer, dancing the hoochie coochie dance. With its many musical jokes, this cartoon is the first step in the development of the "concert cartoon". It contains an orchestra that plays Bizet's Carmen way out of tune and Mickey performing the Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt on the piano. This sequence is particularly important for two reasons: first, Mickey here gains his famous gloves, and second, this is the first time that Liszt's famous work is featured in an animated cartoon. It would remain a cartoon classic and many years later, Bugs Bunny would perform the same piece on the piano in Rhapsody Rabbit (1946), and Tom and Jerry in The Cat Concerto (1947).
From Maxwell Morton "Max" Goudiss : This is the last cartoon in which Mickey Mouse had no gloves at all in the beginning only, the rest of this cartoon features Mickey in his trademark gloves.

Referenced Comments