6 Essential Disney Shorts To Watch for Disney100
Earlier this month, Disney announced that they would add 28 newly restored animation shorts to Disney+ as part of the Disney100 celebration. It was thrilling news for fans of animation, as the company is responsible for some of the greatest cartoons ever made. The films will be released over the next few months, beginning July 7 and continuing through October 6.
There are six shorts slated for the July 7 release. Let’s take a quick look at each in anticipation of seeing them in all their remastered glory.
The Skeleton Dance (1929)
Widely considered one of the greatest (and most important) cartoons ever made, The Skeleton Dance was released as part of the Silly Symphonies. In fact, it was the FIRST Silly Symphony, kicking off a series that would win seven Academy Awards.
Animated primarily by Disney Legend Ub Iwerks (over the course of roughly six weeks), the film featured a group of human skeletons dancing around a graveyard at night. Carl W. Stalling (an organist who first suggested the Silly Symphony concept to Walt) provided the music, which was Edvard Grieg’s “March of the Trolls” from the Lyric Suite.
Critics raved about the piece upon its release, though due to the vaguely macabre content, Variety did warn, “Don’t bring your children.” Almost a century later, critics still can’t get enough of the cartoon. In 1994, it was voted number 18 on a list of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time. Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin has described it as a personal favorite, declaring, “There’s something disarming about its utter simplicity.”
Building a Building (1933)
Though it isn’t the first Mickey Mouse cartoon (an honor that belongs to Plane Crazy) or even the most celebrated (unquestionably Steamboat Willie) the short film Building a Building remains a vital piece of Disney history.
Directed by David Hand, who would go on to be the supervising director of both Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi, the cartoon was essentially a remake of the 1928 short Sky Scrappers starring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. At the time, the character of Mickey Mouse was still voiced by Walt Disney and Minnie was performed by Marcellite Gardner (who started with the company as part of the Ink and Paint Department). Pinto Colvig (best known for providing the voices of Goofy and Pluto) performed the role of Pegleg Pete.
The story follows Mickey as he works on a construction site. He encounters Minni selling lunches to the workers. He is immediately taken with her, but unfortunately, she’s literally taken by Pegleg Pete. However, as with any Disney film, true love wins in the end.
The film was nominated for an Academy Award, though it would lose to Disney’s Three Little Pigs.
Bath Day (1946)
By the time of Bath Day’s release, Marcellite Gardner had left the role of Minnie Mouse. She was briefly replaced by Thelma Boardman, who would give way to Ruth Clifford. It was Clifford who performed the role of Minnie in Bath Day.
The premise of the cartoon is simple. Minnie attempts to give her cat a bath. Assuming you’ve ever interacted with a cat, you can probably guess the chaos that follows. What might be more surprising is the identity of the cat in question: Figaro.
Introduced as Geppetto’s cat in the 1940 film Pinocchio, Figaro became one of Walt’s personal favorites and was subsequently introduced as the pet of Minnie Mouse. In Bath Day, he is not only subjected to an unwanted bath but is doused in perfume. This leads some alley cats to bully and chase him. While Figaro is eventually victorious, it comes with a cost. When he returns home, Minnie decides he needs another bath.
Figaro and Frankie (1947)
Another Figaro and Minnie cartoon, Figaro and Frankie might remind animation fans of the central conflict found in the Warner Bros. cartoons starring Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird. As in those cartoons, Figaro and Frankie featured Figaro battling it out with a bird. However, in this case, the bird is named Frankie the Canary, and Figaro doesn’t want to eat him. He simply wants to make him stop singing.
Curiously, the very first cartoon featuring Sylvester and Tweety, titled Tweetie Pie, was released on May 3, 1947, while Figaro and Frankie was released a few weeks later. However, there are some notable differences between the stories. As mentioned, Figaro doesn’t want to eat Frankie, just make him be quiet. More notable is the fact that Figaro ultimately ends up helping Frankie, rescuing him from an angry bulldog. By comparison, Tweetie Pie ends with Tweety whacking Sylvester (known as Thomas at the time) in the head with a shovel.
Goofy Gymnastics (1949)
As a member of the “Sensational Six” (which also includes Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Pluto), Goofy has been a seminal part of Disney history since his introduction in the 1932 film Mickey’s Revue.
Goofy Gymnastics sees Goofy order a home gym after reading an advertisement in a magazine. After setting up the various equipment, he puts on a record that walks him through each step of his workout. In true Goofy fashion, his attempts are all abysmal (and hilarious) failures.
The cartoon would receive a second life in 1988 when it appeared in a scene of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? In the sequence, Roger watches Goofy Gymnastics and raves about Goofy’s comedic brilliance.
Beginning in the 1950s, Goofy entered a curious era. He was depicted as an “everyman” type character and was given the new name of Mr. George Geef. While he isn’t known as George in Aquamania, he isn’t referred to as Goofy either. Instead, he is given the simple title of Mr. X.
Presented in documentary fashion, the short explores “aquamania” (or an obsession with boats and boating). It begins with Mr. X developing an obsession with boats and progresses through his accidental entry into a water skiing race. We’d hate to give away too much of the action that follows, but you should know that an octopus and a roller coaster are involved.
As a point of interest for modern fans of Goofy, he is depicted as having a wife and child in the short. However, the child is NOT Max Goof. At least, not the Max Goof that fans would come to know and love in Goof Troop and A Goofy Movie. This version of Goofy’s son appears in several cartoon shorts. He looks nothing like Max and is referred to as George. His wife, who is completely absent in later depictions, is never given a name and her face never appears on screen.