Monday, October 12, 2009

Ye Olden Days

Another day, another hit Mickey Mouse cartoon, this time it’s Ye Olden Days, a tale of Mickey in medieval times, complete with songs, jousts and feasts. This is a masterpiece in my opinion. It’s definitely the finest Mickey short so far in 1933, and that’s saying something.

What makes this so good? Simple. The characters are perfect. We get every one of the main Disney characters of the time, cast in a role that fits them perfectly, and the story proceeds with each playing their part. You’d think that would be a simple formula, but it’s not always the case.

For example, we have Mickey as the underdog squire or knight, riding a beaten down pony with a blanket for a saddle. He comes to Minnie’s rescue, and is the loveable underdog the entire way, skating out of trouble and managing to bumble his way through, then uses his wit and brains to win the day.

Minnie plays the sweet princess who is being forced to marry the prince of the land, played by Goofy. Goofy is identified in the title card as “Dippy Dawg,” the first time I’ve seen him mentioned by name. He would change to Goofy later on in his career. The king, played by Pete, is trying to force them to marry, but Minnie refuses and is thrown in the tower jail.

That’s where Mickey comes in, and wins Minnie’s heart. But the king doesn’t want any part of that, and forces Mickey and Goofy to fight for Minnie’s affections. The fight is a great piece of work, featuring the two running all around the castle, Mickey’s donkey besting Goofy’s horse in a fistfight, and Mickey chopping off Goofy’s lance and using it to chase him out of the castle.

This is also the first Mickey cartoon that has really used songs to their fullest extent. Mickey is introduced with a song that he sings as he rides his donkey. The king sings a song to introduce the royal court, including the prince and princess. Mickey sings outside Minnie’s tower window. You see here the beginnings of a musical, which would serve the animators well in coming years as they began to work on Snow White.

In the end, though, it all comes back to the characters. They are cast well, animated perfectly and filled with personality and life. You don’t think about the drawings at all in this short, and that’s a testament to the love and effort that was put into the work. Ye Olden Days is a fantastic short, and one of the true classics of Mickey’s career.

All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.


  1. I'm not certain that the king is Pete, as the king looks very much like a lion, but I could be wrong. Half the time when something looks like Pete, I think it is not him since they do not have the pegleg, but I find a site that says that it is him. They did not get rid of the pegleg until after 1935.

  2. The pegleg really does come and go inconsistently—it's not in OZZIE OF THE MOUNTED, THE BARN DANCE, THE BARNYARD BATTLE, or BARNYARD OLYMPICS either, and it's definitely Pete we're seeing in all four cartoons (in MOUNTED, he's even billed as Pegleg Pete despite not having the pegleg!).

    Ironically, the Mickey Mouse newspaper comic strip later tried to smooth things over by showing that Pete sometimes wore an artificial, more realistic leg ("new-model store leg," as he called it in 1941).

  3. Oops, and speaking of Oswald, YE OLDEN DAYS does seem awfully reminiscent of OH, WHAT A KNIGHT at the start, doesn't it?

  4. I think the king in this is supposed to be Pete-like, without being the 'official' Pete himself. He doesn't quite look the same (more of a dog to me) and it's kind of telling that on "Ye Caste" list the name of the 'actor' playing the king is obscured.

    This one has a lot of fun casting the characters in new roles without taking it too seriously. I especially like it when Mickey and Minnie climb down Clarabelle's clothes – how much underwear was she wearing?! Also it's kind of disgusting that the guillotine they use for decapitations is the same one they use for food! The song "They're Gonna have a Duel" is probably my favourite Disney song in our journey so far ("Which ever one survives the slaughter Wins the hand of my fair daughter!).

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