Long before Pixar started showing their Academy Award nominated shorts before the Disney/Pixar films, Disney screened their cartoons in movie theaters before feature-length films. The newest cartoons from Walt Disney studios starring Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald Duck could all be seen at the local movie theater. Sadly the trend disappeared for awhile, but was occasionally re-introduced before Disney animated feature films.
In 1990, The Walt Disney Company released their very first sequel to an animated feature, The Rescuers Down Under. To celebrate, Disney released a short film starring Mickey Mouse that was screened in theaters before the feature film titled The Prince and the Pauper. The story by Mark Twain is an old favorite that has been adapted many times into film and TV, this time it’s Mickey’s turn.
Mickey Mouse plays the poor villager who happens to look exactly like the prince. The villager wants to be rich and the prince wants to have the freedom of the commoners so the two switch places for a day and wreak all kinds of havoc. Along with Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck and Pete (Mickey’s nemesis), the Disney characters act out this classic tale.
I have personally always held this version of the story close to my heart as I remember seeing this in the theater. In 1990, before the internet, the only way to know that there was a short film before the movie was word of mouth. Being a middle-schooler, it just wasn’t cool to talk about the latest Disney animated film, so this short came as a total surprise to me. I watched in wonder for the 24 minute run time, fully enjoying the familiar characters.
Even now, after 19 years, this short film is still dear to my heart. In fact, it might even be more of a gem now, since Mickey Mouse has been relegated to computer animation nowadays (see: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Channel). There’s just something about the good ol’ ink and paint and the nostalgia of a Mickey Mouse cartoon.
Presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the colors are brighter and clearer than I remember them on the big screen. The sound is crisp too.
The extras on the disc are the bonus animated shorts:
The Pied Piper – A Silly Symphony – This is obviously an older short, as you can tell from the quality of the animation. This is the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin who rids the town of the rat infestation, only to be stiffed when it comes to being paid for his services. In retaliation, the Pied Piper plays his tune and lures the children from the town, taking them to a “Candy Land”. I don’t remember the story being this…creepy. 7:37
Old King Cole – A Silly Symphony – This one is just weird. All of the storybook characters pop out of their collective storybooks and meet at King Cole’s castle for the “Annual Jamboree”. They all do their own little dances, introducing themselves, then at the end they all end up dancing like the 1 little 2 little 3 little Indians…Then the clock strikes midnight and King Cole kicks them out. Like I said, weird. 7:33
Ye Olden Days – A Mickey Mouse Cartoon – Princess Minnie has been arranged by King Pete to marry Knight Goofy, but she doesn’t want to. Wandering Minstrel Mickey falls in love with Princess Minnie and duels Knight Goofy for her hand in marriage. Guess who wins? This is very cute, but a little difficult to understand what they’re saying at times due to the overpowering organ music. 8:26
A Knight For A Day – A Goofy Cartoon – This is similar to the Goofy Sports cartoons, you know, like the one where he tries the home gym? Only this time, Goofy is thrust in the throes of a jousting duel against the reigning champion, Sir Cumference. This is a very punny, I mean funny cartoon. 7:06
Trailers: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, UP, The Princess and the Frog, Bedtime Stories, Disney Movie Rewards
While not the best Disney animated short ever made, The Prince and the Pauper still delivers everything that a Disney cartoon should: familiar characters, a familiar story, family friendly comedy, and a song here and there. The bonus shorts included are not all that great, but are still special to watch. It’s always fun to watch the magic of old Disney.
Walt Disney Home Video presents Disney Animation Collection 3: The Prince and the Pauper. Directed by: George Scribner (The Prince and the Pauper). Starring: Wayne Allwine (Mickey Mouse), Bill Farmer (Goofy and others), Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck), Arthur Burghart (Pete)(The Prince and the Pauper). Written by: Gerrit Graham, Sam Graham (The Prince and the Pauper). Running time: 55 minutes (total run time of all). Rating: G. Released on DVD: April 7, 2009. Available at Amazon.com