The Skeleton Dance (1929)

Skeleton Dance (1929)

The Skeleton Dance (1929). 6 minutes. Produced and directed by Walt Disney. Animated by Ub Iwerks, Les Clark, and Wilfred Jackson. Music by Carl W. Stalling.

By 1929, Walt Disney had produced and directed the Mickey Mouse shorts Plane Crazy (1928), Steamboat Willie (1928), The Gallopin’ Gaucho (1929), and The Barn Dance (1929)—all of which chronicled the adventures of the small rodent. While these early exercises may loom especially large in the Disney legend, we should not forget that Disney concurrently launched the Silly Symphonies series as an alternative to the cartoons that were in development with the Mickey Mouse character. Frequently embracing classical music in continuous or near-continuous musical soundtracks, this new line of cartoons consisted mostly of non-recurring characters and scenarios, and represents some of the best, most creative work that Disney’s team produced.

The 75 Silly Symphonies shorts released between 1929 and 1939 included the perky and upbeat Flowers and Trees (1932) and Three Little PigsRead the rest

Steamboat Willie (1928)

Steamboat Willie (1928)

Steamboat Willie (1928). 8 minutes. Directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Voices by Walt Disney. Music by Wilfred Jackson and Bert Lewis.

Steamboat Willie is a black-and-white animated Disney short that was the first cartoon of any kind to use completely synchronized sound. It draws thematically from both the 1911 song “Steamboat Bill” and the 1928 silent Buster Keaton comedy Steamboat Bill, Jr., but it was also inspired by the technological revolution launched by The Jazz Singer (1927), the first feature-length movie to use partially synchronized sound. Steamboat Willie is notable today for its historical achievement and for being the first widely successful cartoon to feature Mickey Mouse, but in addition to these accomplishments, it remains extremely silly and a good example of how charming early animation could be.

The story follows the iconic rodent protagonist as he works on a riverboat. A large cat (Pete) orders Mickey around and banishes him from the ship’s bridge. Mickey … Read the rest