Mickey Mouse had birthday parties on screen in 1931 and 1942. The animation, as you might expect, was far better in the latter version, but I like the earlier one a lot more. Maybe it’s the attitude. The characters have that great early ‘30s look, there’s a lot of singing and dancing (mainly Dick Lundy at work), and things come to life. Like piano stools that play their pianos, animated by Jack Cutting.
The second half is lots of fun. The writers found different musical gags as Mickey plays a xylophone (with his butt, in one piece of footage) and then the instrument takes on a life of its own, in animation by Ben Sharpsteen.
And there’s a funny Fleischer-esque gag involving cats (with Fleischer-esque belly buttons) dancing on a fish bowl while fish swim inside. The cats fall in the bowl, and the impact shoots the fish to the rim outside. The fish start dancing while the cats swim, in a scene by Johnny Cannon.
Walt Disney sprung for the rights to use songs. “Darktown Strutters Ball” surfaced a decade later in Tom and Jerry cartoons at MGM and the short opens with “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby.”
If you’re looking for plot, you won’t find it here. But if you’re looking for an upbeat 7½ minutes, this cartoon’s as good as any.