Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White

Special Features:
Frank and Ollie… and Mickey
Story Scripts
Story Sketch Sequences
Pencil Tests: The Mail Pilot
Poster Gallery (with audio attachment)
Story Sketch Sequences

Other Info:
Running Time: 4 Hours 16 Minutes
Dolby Digital
Close Captioned

Synopsis:
Leonard Maltin hosts this special DVD collection featuring Mickey Mouse’s early cartoons. They include all of his black and white cartoons from Steamboat Willie to Mickey’s Service Station. There are 34 cartoons in all. Maltin introduces the DVD and occasionally introduces a cartoon if there is something noteworthy in it. Also included in the extras are an interview with some of the old Mickey animators, pencil tests, story scripts, and more. It’s an overall snapshot of Mickey’s early years on the screen and behind it.

The Movie:
If you’re a fan of animation or Disney, this is a DVD you’ll want for your collection. Even if you’re not, it’s a very interesting look into the history of the Disney animation studios and Mickey Mouse himself. I thought my young daughter would be bored with it since it was in black and white, but she loved it. Even in his early form, she recognized Mickey Mouse and cameos by Donald, Pluto, and Goofy.

Leonard Maltin is a great host for this presentation. He’s personable, knowledgeable, and generally points out trivia of genuine interest to the viewer. His introductions go a long way towards highlighting things you’d otherwise miss in the cartoons.

It’s quite a bit of fun to see Mickey in the old days before he was a corporate logo. He had a lot more personality back then and didn’t carry the extra baggage of being a squeaky clean pop icon as he does now. In fact, it’s amazing to see just how un-PC he was. Mickey smokes, drinks, chews tobacco, kisses Minnie against her will, and pulls the tail of a cat. Leonard Maltin even comes on to remind viewers that this is a snapshot from a different era and that the moral standards were different back then.

This DVD is as thorough a look at Mickey Mouse as you could ask for. After watching this DVD, you’ll really feel like you’ve raided the Disney Archives.

The Extras:
All of the extras really get behind the scenes of the making of the cartoons. Maltin starts the extras off in the interview “Frank and Ollie…and Mickey”. These gentlemen reminisce about their days in the old animation studios and their time working with Walt Disney himself. They talk about animation techniques, challenges they had evolving Mickey Mouse, and more. It’s a really interesting interview with some of the remaining animators.

The other extras walk you through the creation process of the animation. “Story Scripts” show the actual scripts from some of the cartoons along with the sketches Disney used in the cartoon’s development. “Story Sketch Sequences” are the actual storyboards for the cartoons used to plot things out before the animation. The “Pencil Test” shows you how the animators photographed their pencil sketches in motion before they went on to the cel inking. This was a final check on the motion before everything was locked in. The only surviving pencil test is for “The Mail Pilot”, and that’s what’s included on this DVD. All the segments come together to give you a fantastic look behind the scenes at the old studio. You get a chance to see the cartoon transformed from the written page to the actual final product.

The final extra is the “Poster Gallery”. This shows some movie posters from the old advertising campaigns. This is a great treat for movie poster buffs. There is some audio commentary along with the photos where Maltin talks about the image you’re seeing. It’s a cool way to learn more about the posters.

The Bottom Line:
Walt Disney fans and animation fans will want to add this DVD to their collections. It’s a first rate presentation and a very interesting look at film history for casual Mickey fans.

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