Monday, October 19, 2009

Mickey's Mechanical Man

Honestly, I don’t have a lot to say about Mickey’s Mechanical Man. It’s a good Mickey cartoon with a straightforward story and some fun gags. In fact, it reminds me a bit of a Looney Tunes cartoon with its silliness and crazy premise. However, compared to some of the other 1933 Mickey shorts, it is not the best.

The premise itself is very good – Mickey and a robot (I presume made by Mickey, but it’s never stated) have a prize fight against Beppo the Gorilla, who was last seen in the early short The Gorilla Mystery. Just the simple fact of a fight between a robot and a gorilla being accepted as the norm made me laugh. Kudos to Disney for the set up alone.

The twist, and you know there had to be one, is that Mickey’s robot doesn’t fight well at all, until Minnie blows her car horn. When that happens, the robot goes nuts and tears up the gym and punches everything in sight, so long as it has Beppo’s picture on it. Like I said, it’s the kind of twist you’d expect from the Warner Bros. cartoons, but it works really well.

The work on the robot is the best animation in this short. It’s the kind of frantic, kinetic work that you don’t often see from Disney. Mickey, Minnie and even Pluto to some degree are very controlled figures. Even when Pluto runs amok, he is still in control of his limbs. The robot, on the other hand, goes wild, arms and legs flailing everywhere, motion flying all around.

As you could probably predict, the fight goes the wrong way for the majority of the time, until Minnie realizes what’s wrong. She runs outside, grabs the car horn and brings it inside. After a quick squeeze, the robot goes nuts again, destroying the gorilla, then blowing up itself.

The plot is the big thing in this short, and with a good premise and a fun twist, it works really well. Sure, we have some good animation work on the mechanical man, but Mickey and Minnie are the same as we’ve seen before. The real thing this short accomplishes is fun. It’s amusing to watch and easy to digest. That’s something that should not be underestimated.

All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.


  1. Fun but somewhat predictable. The moment you learn that Minnie's horn sets the robot off, you know what's going to happen in the match. Still, a clever and suitably outrageous premise with a solid follow through.

  2. Just a small point that I just discovered this weekend. I was going over the animator's drafts for "The Gorilla Mystery" (which Hans Perk had posted on his blog) and they says that the gorilla's name in that short is "Ignagi." Or at least, that is what Mickey calls him in one scene. So it appears that this may be Beppo's first appearance.

  3. Interesting note, Patrick. Beppo here looks just the same as Ignagi from Gorilla Mystery, so I assumed they were the same. Thanks for the update.

  4. "Ingagi" (note actual spelling) wasn't the gorilla's name in THE GORILLA MYSTERY, just a pop culture in-joke: INGAGI was a 1930 RKO blockbuster movie purporting to show gorilla-worshiping natives in the jungle, with "Ingagi" being what they called the apes.

  5. This is a fun cartoon that's not quite like the other Mickey cartoons we've seen. There's quite a bit more talking from Mickey and Minnie than usual, making it a bit more like one of the comics. I think the predictable story somewhat spoils the funny and silly premise. It could have built up to something more unexpected. It's also a bit of a copy because the Betty Boop and Bimbo Talkartoon, "The Robot" (which also sees a robot being created in order to take part in a boxing match) had only been released the year before.

    As usual, there's a wealth of detail in this one. Check out the brief scene of people outside the boxing stadium – lots of different characters doing different things – excitedly acting out the match, arguing over who will win, trying to get a look at the poster or even someone just standing scratching his bum – it's all here. There even a brief cameo of Horace (the first to enter the stadium) if you look quick. Also there's tons of details in the animated crowds inside the stadium, cunningly shaded so as not to detract from the action in the foreground. It must have been a lot of work to bring this cartoon to life!


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