Mickey Mouse was the original cartoon superstar. But as the 1930s moved on, Mickey’s circle of friends grew’and their subsequent popularity began to eclipse the Mouse’s appeal. Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, The Three Little Pigs’and especially Donald Duck’became Disney headliners during the Depression years.
And although the undertaking of the feature film, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, took most of Walts attention during this periodMickey was never forgotten. Walt continued to provide his voice in dozens of short subjects and several special cartoons were mounted to maintain Mickeys star status.
The Mickey Mouse series moved from black & white to full Technicolor in 1935 with one of his greatest filmsThe Band Concert. This film had it all great animation, slapstick comedy (in the form of Donald Ducks constant interruptions), classic music, fantastic action (a tornado sweeping up the band) and drama (Mickeys efforts to conduct under incredibly adverse situations).
"The Band Concert is a perfectly realized cartoon that manages to blend music, comedy, personality animation, dramatic action and storytelling into a seamless whole," says Leonard Maltin. "Ive always felt that it was the natural drama of The William Tell Overture that inspired Walt Disney and his staff to such incredible heights. Its certainly one of their finest achievements a great, great cartoon."
Mickeys movies became visual showcasesThru the Mirror in 1936 (an homage to Lewis Carroll, Fred Astaire and Busby Berkeley), The Brave Little Tailor in 1938 (a classic fable told with lavish production values) and a trio of Mickey-Donald-Goofy comedy masterpieces: Mickeys Fire Brigade in 1935 and Clock Cleaners and Lonesome Ghosts in 1937.
By the end of the decade, with The Pointer (1939), Mickey had undergone a make-over: going from pie-eyed heartland innocence to a more wide-eyed urbanite persona. And that wasnt the end. Disney had even greater things in mind for Mickey: an extra-length short film based on The Sorcerers Apprentice by Paul Dukas, and conducted by Leopold Stowkowski. This project would cement Mickey Mouses reputation for all time.
The Disney studio itself "started with a mouse.” Fantasia (1940), the classic feature film which contained the The Sorcerers Apprentice, also started with a mousedue to Walt Disneys interest in Mickeys continued success.