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WALT DISNEY TREASURES:
MICKEY MOUSE IN LIVING COLOR

Review by Michael Jacobson

Audio:  Dolby Digital Mono
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Walt Disney
Features:  See Review
Length:  217 Minutes
Release Date:  December 4, 2001

“I only hope we never lose sight of one thing…it was all started by a mouse.” – Walt Disney

Film ****

I’ve been into DVD for several years now, and have certainly had a lot of fun with my player over that time, but never as much as watching the double disc set of “Mickey Mouse in Living Color” from the limited edition Walt Disney Treasures collection.

Mickey, as host Leonard Maltin reminds us, was once something more than just a pop culture icon…he was a bona fide movie star.  He grew from humble silent film black and white beginnings into the mouse that roared, and an entertainment empire would soon be built upon his capable shoulders.

This collection features every color Mickey Mouse cartoon from 1935 to 1938, beginning and ending with two of his best.  “The Band Concert”, Mickey’s first color film, is a musical and imaginative romp through the “William Tell Overture”, with the plucky mouse conducting a raucous orchestra while dealing with Donald Duck’s incessant intrusions, and of course, ending up in the sky as a cyclone carries the band on a wild ride…they never stop playing!

“Brave Little Tailor” is one of Mickey’s finest starring roles, as clothes maker who gets mistaken for a giant killer…to win the love of the Princess Minnie, he’ll nevertheless give it a go!

These shorts are also peppered with Mickey’s favorite co-stars, on their way to becoming banner names themselves:  Donald, Goofy, Pluto…when two or more of these characters were combined, the comedy grew in leaps and bounds.  “Mickey’s Fire Brigade” is a non-stop howl fest, as are the imaginative “Lonesome Ghosts” and “Mickey’s Trailer” (“Hey…who’s driving?”).

These cartoons all represent a simpler, and possibly better time in the studio’s history, when the sky was the limit, imagination ran wild, talent was plentiful and Disney was still a hungry young company, and not co-owner of the world along with Microsoft and AOL/Time Warner.  Despite their long history of glowing achievements, one look at Mickey Mouse in his heyday tends to prove that it doesn’t get much more fun than that.

He may be all but retired from the screen, but Mickey’s legacy is indelible.  The Disney mystique began with him, and as “Mickey Mouse in Living Color” proves, it’s still often at its best with him as well.

NOTE:  See below for complete program listing.

Video ****

Simply breathtaking…I would have never believed that 65 year old cartoon shorts could look so good.  Disney has preserved these jewels of entertainment beautifully, and on DVD, their color, crispness and clarity is better than ever.  Every Technicolor shade is perfectly rendered brightly and vividly.  Images are sharp and clear, and there is no grain or artifacting to spoil the presentation.  The prints themselves are in remarkably good shape…spots or specks are very few and far between.  For animation fans, this disc will be an absolute treasure!

Audio ***

The mono sound mixed fare very well, too, with good bits of dynamic range, clear dialogue (inasmuch as Donald could EVER be understood, mind you), excellent music presentation, and more.  The audio is very clean and clear throughout…nicely done.

Features ***

Both discs feature a Leonard Maltin introduction (a slightly longer one on Disc Two).  Disc One also features a rarely seen bonus short, “Parade of Award Nominees”, created especially for the Academy Awards, as well as some pencil test sketches of Mickey.  Both discs feature cool Easter eggs:  Disc One has a short film of Walt Disney discussing the evolution of Mickey, while Disc Two features another rarely seen Mickey cartoon…one commissioned by Nabisco, no less!  Included in the attractive metal box packaging is a limited edition lithograph…the one I have features a reproduction of “The Band Concert” poster.

Summary:

The Walt Disney Treasures collection of DVDs is proving to be amongst the most important limited edition releases yet offered…I only hope we’ll see more of them!  “Mickey Mouse in Living Color” is a double disc dose of funny, beautiful and imaginative animation history at its very best…it’s definitely one no movie or cartoon lover should be without.

THE COMPLETE LISTING:

DISC ONE:

The Band Concert
Mickey's Garden
On Ice
Pluto's Judgment Day
Mickey's Fire Brigade
Pencil Tests
Thru The Mirror
Mickey's Circus
Mickey's Elephant
Mickey's Grand Opera
Mickey's Polo Team
Alpine Climbers
Moving Day
Mickey's Rival
Orphan's Picnic

DISC TWO:

Hawaiian Holiday
Moose Hunters
The Worm Turns
Magician Mickey
Mickey's Amateurs
Clock Cleaners
Lonesome Ghosts
Mickey's Parrot
Boat Builders
The Whalers
Mickey's Trailer
Brave Little Tailor