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Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White
DVD disk
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
As part of Disney's new "WALT DISNEY TREASURES" collection, Mickey Mouse in Black & White contains 34 short episodes produced between 1928 and 1935 featuring the legendary Mouse and some of his friends.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
It seems fitting that only a few weeks ago, I left the dreary Canadian winter behind and spent a week in Florida. I hadn't gone to Disney World since my folks took my siblings and I back when I was about nine years old, but the memories were still vivid in my mind and my trip to Orlando was more pilgrimage than vacation. Once I got there, the most fantastic thing happened: I was nine years old again and I was grinning from ear to ear, running from ride to ride and looking in amazement as the characters we'd all grown to love walked right there among all the other bewildered visitors. Such is the magic of Disney and such is the magic of Disney's flagship character (can I say that?), the indomitable Mickey Mouse. The highlight of the day was, in fact, when Mickey took my girlfriend and me by the hand and we were able to get a great pic of the three of us right in front of the magic kingdom.

It's no surprise then that watching this collection of episodes was pretty akin to watching home movies of an old-time friend in his earlier days. From his first appearance in the wild "PLANE CRAZY" to his groundbreaking classic "STEAMBOAT WILLIE", the first animated feature with sound, Mickey was at his rascally best throughout the years that are remembered in this collection. Forever chasing his beloved Minnie, he's also joined a bit later on by the rest of the crew, the unfortunate Pluto, the clumsy Goofy and the permanently irate Donald Duck as well as a host of other animals and objects that are as entertaining as they are original. The best part was that the comedy, although almost three-quarters of a century old, was not at all dated which goes to show that the originals never die.

The collection is extremely well presented and comes in an attractive tin box which contains a two-disc set and an attractive (although bare) booklet. A postcard-size reproduction of a Steamboat Willie poster is also stuck in there. The on-screen presentation itself is also quite well organized with simple menus and some nice background art. The whole thing begins with an introduction by film critic, historian and major egghead Leonard Maltin, who does a good job of sharing some of his knowledge without becoming tedious. Thirty-Four episodes are presented in all, totaling a solid 4 hours-plus of viewing time, without counting about 45 minutes worth of extras.
THE EXTRAS
There's enough on here to keep you happy, although it won't necessarily blow you out of the water.

DISC 1

Disc one contains three featurettes. the first one is entitle "Frank & Ollie... and Mickey" and consists of a 15-minute long interview by Maltin of legendary Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, who joined the studio in 1934, discussing anything from Mickey, to Walt Disney to their own relationship with the iconic Mouse and a brief timeline of Mickey's life. Next up are story scripts, which are reproductions of the original detailed episode scripts along with explanatory drawing. Two episodes are thus displayed: "Steamboat Willie" and "Mickey Steps Out". Finally, the disc contains story sketch sequences, which are montages of the original storyboards for 7 episodes and which were the natural evolutionary step up from the story scripts.

DISC 2

This one starts out with "Pencil Test: The Mail Pilot", which demonstrates a unique step Disney studios employed to make sure their animation was of the highest quality. They would animate their pencil animation prior to setting them in ink just to make a good final pass and make sure anything they didn't like was ironed out. Only one of those original tests survives to this day, a three minute long sequence from "The Mail Pilot". You'll also find on disc two a poster gallery with some reproductions of original posters and reprints, along with explanations for each from Maltin. Some additional episodes are also displayed via the story sketch sequences, like in disc one.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you have kids, then this is a "must-have" addition to your home collection. If you don't have any kids, then you know what...it's still a must-have if only because of the historical value of the episodes represented herein. But even with all that pop culture icon stuff set aside, this is just plain fun to watch and also very affordable (about US$30 smackers only) so go ahead and take home a little piece of the happiest place on Earth...
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