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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Original Production Animation Drawing of Mickey Mouse from "The Band Concert," 1935


Original production drawing of Mickey Mouse from "The Band Concert," 1935; Graphite pencil on peg hole paper; Numbered 337 upper right; Size - Mickey Mouse: 5 1/4 x 5 1/2", Sheet 9 1/2 x 12"; Unframed.


"The Band Concert," 1935 is an animated short film produced in 3-strip Technicolor by Walt Disney Productions and released by United Artists. The film was the first Mickey Mouse short produced in color and remains one of the most highly acclaimed of all the Disney shorts. "The Band Concert" was directed by Wilfred Jackson and featured adapted music written by Leigh Harline. The only speaking character in the film is Donald Duck, who was voiced by Clarence Nash.

The film stars Mickey Mouse as the Band's Conductor, Goofy on clarinet, an unnamed dog on trombone, Clarabelle Cow on flute, Horace Horsecollar  on percussion, Peter Pig on trumpet, and Paddy Pig on tub. The story revolves around Mickey Mouse's orchestra performing a concert in the park. As the film opens they are being applauded for having just played music from Zampa, and they next begin Rossini's "William Tell Overture."

Mickey is constantly being distracted from his role of band leader, first by Peter Pig's vibrato trumpet and later by Paddy Pig's tuba playing "Prelude: Dawn." Soon Donald Duck appears rolling a vending cart through the audience selling lemonade, popcorn, and ice cream. Donald's loud voice disturbs Mickey as it can be heard over the music. Donald then pulls out a small flute and hops up onto the stage. As the band is still playing the "Finale" segment, Donald begins playing "Turkey In The Straw" at the same tempo as the band. Soon the entire band, seemingly unaware of what is happening, begin to play "Turkey In The Straw." Mickey angrily breaks Donald's flute, but Donald produces another from his clothing. This continues for a while until it is discovered that Donald is carrying dozens of hidden flutes, some of which he seems to magically pull from thin air.

After Donald is kicked off stage by Mickey, a bee comes along and begins to harasses Donald. He fights the bee off and it goes on to bother the already-agitated Mickey. Mickey's swatting of the bee is taken as musical cues by the orchestra. Donald later throws ice cream at the bee which ends up hitting Mickey, instead. As Mickey conducts "Ranz des Vaches," Horace Horsecollar tries to kill the bee with a hammer but hits Goofy on the head; which pushes Goofy's head down into his jacket but he continues playing his clarinet.

Finally, the band comes to the "Storm" segment of the overture which seems to summon an actual tornado; prompting the audience, the seats, and Donald to run for their lives. The tornado sucks up everything in its path, even the pavilion on which the band is playing. But the band is so used to distractions by this point, that they continue to play from inside the tornado. As the storm passes, the band (except Horace and Mickey) is thrown into a tree and the overture comes to and end. By now the only remaining audience member is Donald Duck who begins to applaud. Donald then produces one last flute and plays "Turkey in the Straw" again, but the band members end up throwing their instruments at him in disgust.


Close up of the Mickey Mouse original production drawing.

Although "The Band Concert" did not receive any Academy Award nominations, it has nonetheless become one of the most highly acclaimed Disney short films. The film did win the Venice Film Festival Golden Medal for Best Animation in 1935. Esquire magazine cultural critic Gilbert Seldes wrote that "[none of] dozens of works produced in America at the same time in all the other arts can stand comparison with this one." In 1994 "The Band Concert" was rated third in the book The 50 Greatest Cartoons, which rated the greatest cartoons of all time by members of the field of animation. As a result, it was the highest-ranked Disney cartoon on the list, and the only one in the top 5 not produced by Warner Bros.

Original animation artwork from "The Band Concert" is extremely rare. There just a handful of cels and drawings that have ever come to market, and the only known key setup from the short is the single most expensive work of animation art ever to sell. The key setup of Mickey Mouse along with his band members on their matching hand painted original background sold for a staggering  $420,000 in a private sale that occurred in 1999. That price is still the highest on record for any single piece of animation artwork.


Close up of the production number.

This original animation production drawing of Mickey Mouse from "The Band Concert" is one of the finest drawings to ever come to market from the short. Mickey is full figure with his eyes open and the drawing is from the scene when Mickey is standing on his podium being pestered by a bee; the same bee that had previously bothered Donald Duck. In addition, this is an amazing Les Clark drawing showcasing his enormous skill in the handling of Mickey Mouse. You can see the intense expression on Mickey's face as he battles with the bee, his left hand is up in the air, and his right hand is inside of his large oversized band leader jacket. A rare and important drawing for any animation collector!

To view the scene which this drawing was used to create, click on the short video below: