01 July 2013

Mickey Mouse Mondays: Week 9: Mickey's Choo-Choo

The best moment of Mickey's Choo-Choo comes at the very beginning. We see a train chugging along down the track, happily making its own percussive soundtrack as it goes. Like the monkey drummer in The Karnival Kid, the music the locomotive generates is surprisingly contemporary. It calls to mind the rhythm bed that makes up German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk's landmark "Trans-Europe Express". The rest of the short is comprised of Mickey and Minnie making music once again with whatever objects they find before they are trapped on a calamitous runaway train car.

A lot of the gags here are recycled from previous shorts. Mickey plays the belly of a howling dog in the same gleeful, slightly sadistic fashion that he did the menagerie of Steamboat Willie. Later he checks his watch which is fastened underneath his skin, requiring him to "roll up his sleeve" in a fashion similar to the many casual mutilations of The Karnival Kid. A fantastic piece of animation in Mickey's Choo-Choo comes when the anthropomorphised locomotive slowly starts moving down the track. The animation clearly recalls the movements of a figure skater on the rink, pushing one foot back while leaning forward.

Running cow - Plane Crazy

Running cow - Mickey's Choo-Choo

Mickey's Choo-Choo is the first short to blatantly recycle animation from a previous film. This is not entirely unexpected considering the insane work schedule the small studio was undertaking. In 1929 alone Walt Disney released a dozen films. Keeping up with that work load must have been daunting. In Mickey's Choo-Choo we see a return of the beleagured bovine that previously attempted escape from Mickey and Minnie's wayward airplane in Plane Crazy. Here the cowering cow is besieged by the runaway train. The vehicle may be different but the motion and facial expressions are the same.

Viewing Verdict: Avoidable

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