Today we have 3 black-&-white Mickey shorts that are pretty standard just on the surface, but each of them are significant in that each one features the debut of a character who would become prominent in the Mickey & Friends franchise (and by even MORE coincidence, all 3 characters would be done by the same voice actor; Pinto Colvig in the Walt-era and Bill Farmer currently).
The Plowboy is a simple short that has Mickey as a farmer. He milks a cow, fails in courting Minnie and mostly plows the fertile fields. This is the first appearance of Horace Horsecollar, who plays the horse who helps Mickey's plowing job. Even with no lines, you can get what he's like; he acts like a regular horse but can stand like a normal human, a hard worker, a smart alack who can't resist laughing, but can shut up when commanded to by his master. The scene with Mickey milking the cow and flirting with Minnie feels a bit awkward. When Mickey milks the cow, it starts... starring at him with a loving gaze. And when Mickey kisses Minnie, she throws a bucket at him (it makes more sense and she's not as bipolar as she was in the Barn Dance), the cow stares at Mickey again, Mickey kindly refuses and the cow kicks him in the face? It feels like it's trying to kick a dead horse for no reason even when the horse isn't even dead. But the scenes that have Mickey and Horace doing their plowing job is fine. There's that "Turkey in the Straw"-esque tune, a funny bit where a goat, pig and chicken get mashed into one, Mickey and Horace do their job really productively (even if a bee sting messes them up) and even when their plow gets broken, they use a truffle-digging pig instead. Ah, more of that classic "using animals as equipment" gag that was also popular in this era.
The first I the Chain Gang was a fan music video on YouTube; someone synched parts of this to "Chains on Me" from Phineas and Ferb
(even now I sometimes think of the song). Then I saw it again on the Complete Pluto DVD set, which should give you a clear indication to what character makes his debut. The short features Mickey in strapped in a jail's chain gang. He and the crew break rocks for a bit, make music when the guards are sleeping and then start a prison riot! Even for a miserable scenario of breaking rocks in a prison yard, chained with a bunch of complete strangers/criminals, there's still that Mickey charm to it. All the prisoners get their own funny gags when they break, dance (yes I purposely set those last 2 words together) and sing because of their chain length, species and body-size. This is the first appearance of Pluto, appearing as 2 hound dogs released to capture his own master. He's later become just one dog named Rover and was actually Minnie's dog at first, but then he was renamed Pluto (because the year this short came out was also the year the planet Pluto was discovered). The ending is sort of strange. Mickey manages to escape which is great, but after a high speed chase escaping the 2 Plutos, he ends up in another jail? And he's happy about it?
In Mickey's Revue, Mickey and his friends put on a variety show in a barn, but there's a lot of distractions happening. One is Pluto on the trail of something and another is a distracting heckler up in the audience. It's Dippy Dawg, aka Goofy's first short! Even if he looks like an elderly man (or how his father looked in that House of Mouse episode where Goofy became chef), he's still the stupid-minded goofball we know and love. He wrinkles bags, loudly chomps on peanuts, slaps fellow audience members and of course, guffaws his head off. Goofy's enjoyable snarkiness adds good stuff to this short since it's OK at best. The show itself is just a ballet number with Clarabelle triplets, a tap-dance with 2 unnamed dog twins, Pluto constantly getting pulled away by a vaudeville cane, an orchestra playing songs, a whole crazy music contraption number with Mickey and Minnie, the source of Pluto's mystery search revealed to be a mother cat and kittens who attack the show and it ends with the stage being destroyed. Um... kinky? Reminds me a bit of the Orphan's Benefit (both versions), which is a bit better.
Just a side note, I'm sure a couple people will wondering why I didn't include Clarabelle Cow's first short. Well... it's not entirely sure WHAT cartoon was her first appearance. There's been non-anthropomorphic cows just as background critters ever since Mickey's first 2 shorts and even in Plowboy. Are any of THOSE cows supposed to be Clarabelle? They have black skin and have bucked teeth. However, she didn't start walking on 2 legs or wearing clothes until the Shindig. It's the same thing like the 2 Plutos in Chain Gang. You believe what YOU wanna believe.DAY 194
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