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Mickey Mouse Original Titles

I’ll bet you’ve never seen the actual opening of an early 1930s Mickey Mouse cartoon. Oh, you may think you have – but only animation historian David Gerstein really has – and thanks to him, now we can too. Gerstein’s spent years researching and accumulating rare prints and original film elements to these early 30s Disney cartoons – and has compiled all that research into his latest post on his blog.

Gerstein, editor of Fantagraphics’ Floyd Gottfredson Library, is displaying images from more than a dozen of these rare title frames – like this lost one above from Giantland (1933) – he found in various private collections. The newly recovered title cards include several styles previously unseen by modern-day Disney buffs and serious researchers. Calling all Disney Nerds: look closely at some of this material and you’ll note even some copyright lines and sound system credits differ from versions we’ve seen for years. This is some heavy stuff – and I love it! Thanks, David… Mickey mavens, check this out!

  • I’m a Disney Nerd … and it’s AWESOME!

  • David Gerstein is my favorite person on Earth.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    This was a brilliant post!

  • Norco

    This is the stuff of REAL animation history! Never assume that what exists is all there is.

  • Disney has almost hid the fact that other companies distrubuted their films until 1956. Even if the changes are as minor as the classic MGM cartoons, leave the titles alone. “The Wizard of Oz” has kept their original titles on every release I beleive.

    I don’t get plastering titles or logos (allthough I like some plasters that get rid of scary logos).

    Why can’t we see masterpieces with the original titles?

    I think hiding original references is worse than removing offensive sterotypes in movies.

    • Funkybat

      One that bugs me is that all modern releases of the H-B feature “A Man Called Flintstone” remove the “Wilma as Columbia” artwork at the beginning of the film.

      The reason for this is logical enough, business-wise; Columbia was the initial theatrical distributor, but no longer holds the distribution rights. But would it kill them to format the DVD so that we initially see the current rightsholder’s logo (presumably WB) and then begin the film with the old “Wilma Columbia” as it first appeared?

  • James

    The “exploding Mickey” head-shot. Pure genius.

  • dbenson

    Great stuff. Not a scholar, but always thought those “burlap” titles looked a bit modern on some shorts.

    I still remember being surprised to find out those Looney Tune “Blue Ribbon” cards were simply reissues. In my innocence I assumed they designated shorts that had actually won something.

    Next, some masochist might round up the title cards created for TV showings — not the Ministry of Mass Amusement stuff imposed by syndicators (usually offered as extras by Thunderbean), but the stark, uniform cards used on Mickey Mouse Club, Mighty Mouse, and the various Saturday morning mutations of the Bugs Bunny Show. The ones that tried to make these proud theatricals look like TV-grade product.

    Placed my order for the book months ago. Greater stuff.

    • dbenson,

      Call me a masochist, but I did a little something like that in my Bray title card gallery here:

      Uniform or not, the TV reissues of these films are also a part of their history in the grand scheme of things. But take them or leave them.

      Gerstein, has, of course, done some wonderful research and gone to considerable trouble (taking years) to compile the information/images/videos in that post. He is to be commended. And I’m glad to have been able to help him prepare a couple of the items as well as watch him in the process of putting together very informative posts like this for the general public to easily consume.

  • d. harry
  • Easily consuming things is always a good idea. Including take-out food, while “watching [Gerstein] in the process of putting together very informative posts.”

    But seriously, dbenson, Stathes provided invaluable assistance to me here, transferring both his films and my own to provide most of the video clips. And he’s right that it’s a good idea to preserve and study the films’ reissue histories, too. That page on his site is a special favorite of mine.
    (I hope you didn’t miss the Bray post on my blog here, on which both of us toiled.)

  • Justin

    This is awesome, Jerry! I have the Walt Disney Treasures dvd “Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 1.” I’ve always thought that the titles on the 1930-35 cartoons kinda looked like they were remade.

  • Dear David:

    As someone who’s been something of a titles geek since I was a runt, I find this discovery fascinating. Thank you for this and all the other unearthing you’ve done.

  • Juan Gaspar

    You forgot to mention the early Celebrity Mickey Mouse cartoons. I have seen an original print in Argentina that says “Celebrity Productions Inc. Present A Mickey Mouse Sound Cartoon” However in all the copies released by Disney this has been replaced with “Disney Cartoons Present A Mickey Mouse”

    Have you listened to the Vitaphone sound disks for the early Columbia shorts. I thought that the Columbia shorts originally started with a shot of the Columbia logo and then faded into the titles you have presented above. If the Vitaphone disks carry the sound for the Columbia logo, then this would prove that the shorts originally had a shot of the Columbia logo at the beginning and would also explain the United Artists Mickey Mouse Zooming logo which seems to be partially based on the rays from the torch of the Columbia logo.