Thursday, March 31, 2016

Short Subject: Mickey’s Service Station (1935)

The very first time Mickey, Donald, and Goofy appeared in a short as a trio.

It’s great coming across shorts like these that represent a key moment in Disney history.  Yes the trio we indeed feature in many shorts to come, but this was the very first it happened and if hadn’t gone over well those other shorts would probably have never been made.  Having multiple characters is complicated.  You have to get more animation teams together, because it isn’t just Ib Iwerks doing this all on his own anymore, you have to take into account personality in how the characters play off one another.  That works great here as Donald’s temper is on display and Goofy’s clumsiness too.  Finally you have to give each character things to do.  That’s a little lopsided in this short as Mickey gets the most to do I think, with Goofy second, and Donald third.  That’s a shame because Mickey doesn’t change a tire in quite the funny way Donald did in ‘Tire Trouble’, but I still liked it overall. 

Unlike ‘The Cactus Kid’ where the animation is timed well to the music, but doesn’t really fit the plot this does both.  I think the best part is Goofy holding up Pete’s car as he slides around in oil.  The movements all go with the music, but the actions also reflect the plot of the short which is get the car fixed before time is up.

It's great seeing the evolution of design like Pete here who has his iconic mug of a face, though his voice isn’t set yet, having this strange Russian accent that I don’t actually care for.  Donald still has his 1934 look that doesn’t translate quite as well to the tantrum throwing, which is probably why it was changed, but unlike with Pete Clarence has the voice down already. 

In closing this is a very well done short.  The animation is perfectly timed to the music while serving a purpose.  The characters all get something to do even if it isn’t quite equal.  While later shorts would improve with better character designs and better character treatment this is the first of its kind and it sets the stage well for what will come.

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