Monday, October 8, 2007

The Barn Dance - March 14, 1929

The Barn Dance is the fourth Mickey and Minnie cartoon. While there is nothing truly important about the short, it is entertaining and enojable to watch.

The toon opens with Mickey in his old-fashioned horse-drawn buggy on his way to Minnie's house to take her to the local Barn Dance. Does the horse look familiar? This cartoon marks the first (and primitive) appearance of Horace Horsecollar. While never really a popular character, Horace is featured more and more in later Mickey shorts before he is phased out altogether. He will also begin to walk on two legs, talk from time to time, and even gain a bowler hat.

Of course Mickey's outdated buggy is no match for Pete's modern horseless carraige. Pete too wants to take Minnie to the dance, and surprisingly Minnie accepts his offer.

It's interesting to compare Minnie's personality in these early shorts to her present persona. She is easily swayed by flashy, expensive things (such as Pete's car), and it will be some time before she comes into her own and transforms into the lovable sweetheart of Mickey. In a way it reminds me of Popeye and Olive Oyl. Their early toons (and even much later ones) usually feature Popeye and Bluto fighting over Olive Oyl, with Olive being nothing more than an item. In much the same way Olive eventually gains more facets to her personality, Minnie also evolves into a more complex character.

Like any girl, however, Minnie does not appreciate it when Pete's modern car turns out to be a dud.

Lucky for her, there's another beau waiting for her company. Again, I think this portrays Minnie in a particulary bad light as she seems a bit shallow. This of course will change in time.

Mickey, Minnie, and even Pete reach the Barn Dance, which is in full swing. Animals are dancing to the lively music...

...but unfortunately Mickey's dancing skills are not the best. Minnie again is more than happy to leave Mickey for Pete.

Always the thinker, Mickey devises a plan to win Minnie back. Using a balloon, he literally becomes light on his feet.

However, Pete is not willing to give up. Using a pin and his sock garter as a slingshot...
...Pete easily ruins Mickey's chances at impressing Minnie. The two fall on the floor in a crash.

Seeing no potential in Mickey, Minnie once more goes back to Pete. In a cruel twist, the toon ends with Mickey sobbing.

The Barn Dance is an interesting short because it shows Pete, Minnie, and Mickey in very different ways than audiences are used to. Minnie is entirely unloyal to her true love, Mickey seems to do one wrong thing after another, and Pete is shockingly portrayed not as a menacing villain but rather a proper gentleman. The whole story bears some resemblance to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow where Brom Bones, the gentlemanly villain of the story, battles with Ichabod Crane to win the affections of Katrina Van Tassel. Though Ichabod meets his demise differently than Mickey, the villains of both stories get the girl in the end.

To put a cap on this Mickey short, I wanted to point out this parrot. He previously made fun of Mickey in Steamboat Willie, and it seems Minnie decided to take him in as a pet for The Barn Dance.