Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Symphony Hour

Mickey has been tied with music constantly throughout his career. From the very beginning, when he appeared and danced in sync with “Turkey in the Straw” in Steamboat Willie, there’s always been music. Even more than that, Mickey has been the conductor of a band of cohorts on multiple occasions. That continues in Symphony Hour, as Mickey and the gang put on another show.

We’ve seen this many, many times before. There’s a long tradition of Mickey shorts featuring the gang in some kind of review or concert. The most memorable, is of course, The Band Concert, but we’ve seen Mickey’s Amateurs, Mickey’s Grand Opera, Orphans Benefit and so many more. The Band Concert is the one that provides the most interesting comparison to Symphony Hour.

In Symphony Hour, we see Mickey and his crew conducting a flawless performance as an orchestra, much to the delight of Pete, who is the sponsor of the performance. It’s only when the performance ends, though, that we see that this was practice, not the live performance.

Still, it’s interesting to see the change that has come over Mickey in the years since The Band Concert. Remember, that short showed Mickey out in the boonies, conducting a concert in a rural setting for locals. This moves Mickey into the big city, again mirroring the journey that Walt himself made. Mickey and Walt are always connected, and one follows the other, as we see here.

The fun part of this short is seeing what happens after the perfect rehearsal. Goofy is trying to carry the instruments into the concert hall, but as Goofy is prone to doing, he screws up. Dropping the instruments, he watches them get squashed by the elevator, rendering them useless.

What follows is a hilarious look at the concert, with the instruments giving off the barnyard sounds rather than a polished symphony. Seeing the reactions of the various characters is priceless. Donald, especially, is a fantastic part of this short. He basically gives up early on, and Mickey has to coax him back to the percussion.

Mickey goes pretty far, too, even pointing a gun at Donald to get him back. This short is a fantastic cartoon, and it previews things that would go on between these two in the future. Think of Mickey’s Philharmagic in Walt Disney World, and it stems greatly from this particular short.

All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

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