Mickey’s Amateurs, however, is seemingly a high point of retreads, although it turns out pretty well. Again, we have Mickey hosting a show on stage in a theatre, a setting we have seen multiple times before. Mickey’s show consists of Donald trying to recite a poem and failing, which has been seen a couple times before. And we have Clara Cluck singing, which we have also seen previously.
That said, it all works out pretty well. This isn’t the most innovative or original short, but it’s a fun time with some familiar characters. Mickey in this short is the most like Walt I can imagine. As he keeps saying, “Okay, okay,” to calm down the crowd or the performers, he seems so much like Walt on the old Disneyland TV show.
Donald tries to steal the show here, but he’s not featured as much as in other shorts like this. It’s amusing to see him first try to butter Mickey up with a gift of an apple, only to take it back when his recitation of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” fails. His second attempt, when he comes to the stage dressed in a disguise and ends with an out of control machine gun firing all over the stage, is no less memorable.
The midsection, with Clara Cluck singing while Clarabelle Cow plays piano, is less entertaining. Clara is not a terrible character, but she’s not as well drawn as the Fab Five. It’s funny to see her frustrated and chasing the microphone, but in the end, not as endearing as Goofy or Donald.
Goofy being my favorite character, his sequence in this short is my favorite. Dressed as a bandleader, he comes out with a one man band contraption that obviously goes wrong. Watching him try to keep up with the craziness is what I love about Goofy. It’s a good peek forward into his own solo series.
I’ve seen some poor reviews of Mickey’s Amateurs and I can understand that. It’s not original, as I said, and it doesn’t feature a sequence that is particularly memorable. The most “original” part of the short is at the end, when Donald tries to push his way through the iris as it closes to black. He fails, of course, but it’s the first time we’ve seen Disney push the fourth wall like that.
However, I would have to say that Mickey’s Amateurs is a fun time, just not a fantastic short. When you compare it to others in 1936-37, it doesn’t measure up, but that’s a very high standard.
There are a couple of odd things about this short. One is the appearance of Pete as one of the amateurs. I think this is the first time he's participated in something along with the gang, rather than someone out to get them. The other is how Donald is treated like a child early in this short. This made sense in his second appearance in
Orphans' Benefit, but now he's an established 'adult' character, it's a bit late for this to happen. Luckily Donald's character is so strong we soon forget this discrepancy and enjoy him throwing tantrums and shooting machine guns at the audience.
I also agree that Goofy has the best scene. There's some great frantic animation when his 50 piece band goes haywire. It looks really painful too has poor Goofy is violently choked, knocked about and repeatedly smacked in the crotch!
When I was a kid my favorite thing in this cartoon was Donald getting caught in the iris out. I'd never seen a character play with this before and I found it be amazingly creative. Since then I've seen tons of cartoons that break the fourth wall like that, but I still get a kick out of this scene!
Loudly the bell in the old tower rings ... well, basically this was
not the best opening for a title screen which opens with a preview of
the Gong Show from four decades later. After this pitiful performance,
Mickey introduces Donald, who could not wait to recite "Twinkle, Twinkle,
Little Star." Unfortunately, lack of concentration causes Donald to
fail twice and gets gonged, then hooked after his third futile attempt
while the audience laughed non-stop.
Mickey then introduces the two Claras (Clara Cluck and Clarabelle
Cow). Clarabelle comes on with a gross laugh and snort as the two prepare
Cluck's musical selection. Clarabelle fools Cluck by performing a substantially
and unexpectedly long introduction before Cluck sings (well, clucks).
After Cluck gets going, Clara tries to keep up with a wildly swinging
hanging microphone. Clarabelle throws off Cluck several times, scaring
her out of her wits, including the final surprising note which Clarabelle
responded with yet another gross cackle and snort.
Donald unexpectedly returns armed, daring anyone to laugh just in
case he failed to recite "Twinkle, Twinkle" a fourth time. As expected,
he did, the audience laughed, and Donald exploded by shooting two long
rounds of gunfire without affecting the audience one bit. (Of course,
this scene is eliminated thanks to the "first amendment violators" of
the Walt Disney Company ... they offended more people by eliminating
that scene. If they left this in, they would not have had as many people
Now that I had my beef, back to the cartoon ... Mickey then introduces
Goofy and his so-called 50-piece band, which happened to be rejected
from Paramount's Modern Inventions series, making Adolph Zukor very
happy. Goofy proceeds to play many instruments to the tune of "In The
Good Ol' Summertime" - such as the banjo, clarinet, flute, trombone,
Goofy turns up the speed on his gadget and instruments come flying
to his mouth during his next selection, including the harmonica - shoved
into his mouth on two different occasions while playing "Well Have a
Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight." The device eventually busts with
Goofy keeping a positive spin on things.
Finally, Donald pokes out of Goofy's hat and finally, albeit very
quickly, perfects his recitation of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
He finishes with a "so there" attitude, only to have his neck caught
in the closing cartoon iris during the final few seconds of the film.