» » Spinning Mice (1935)

Short summary

A girl is sewing in her playroom when a boy sneaks in and lets loose a horde of mice into her doll house. She discovers them and is fascinated by them, one in particular who can speak. They... See full summary
A girl is sewing in her playroom when a boy sneaks in and lets loose a horde of mice into her doll house. She discovers them and is fascinated by them, one in particular who can speak. They chat for a while, and the mouse tells them a story of a wizard friend who tried one day to make a potion that would render all things beautiful. He turns lizards into doves and a toad into a squirrel successfully, but when his back is turned another bottle accidentally opens up and spills into the Beauty Elixer. When he tries it on a batch of caged mice, they turn into little devils that chase him around his shop. They wreak havoc and eventually turn him into a giant rabbit, but he's then saved by the doves, who mix a potion that reverts him to his human form and the devils back into mice.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Kamick
    This is one of those old "Rainbow Parades" cartoons which mixes life-action with animation. It usually begins the story with a little kid doing something and then the animals in the story turn into animated figures. That's what happens here, too, as little boy puts some mice into a little girl's doll house. Then, the boy and girl watch the mice run around. That part is a kind of lame.

    All of sudden, we see an animated story about an old "wizard" who is mixing chemical formulas in his lab with the intent of "turning ugly into beauty" because "nature made too many ugly things." Yeah, right. Anyway, at least he can sing and he explains all these thoughts in song. They loved to sing in 1930s cartoons.

    His formula works, as we see lizards transformed to beautiful birds, frogs into cute chipmunks, etc. However, when something accidentally spills into the mix, the results are disastrous and the wizards learns you can't play God and "to leave well enough alone."
  • comment
    • Author: Ieregr
    Van Beuren cartoons are extremely variable, especially in the number of gags and whether the absurdist humour shines through enough (sometimes it does, other times it doesn't), but are strangely interesting. Although they are often poorly animated with barely existent stories and less than compelling lead characters, they are also often outstandingly scored, there can be some fun support characters and some are well-timed and amusing.

    For me, few, if any, of the "Rainbow Parade" cartoons are unwatchable. Few are my definition of great, but even the weakest efforts (like 'Japanese Lanterns') have a few good things. Saw it really as somebody who is trying to see as many Van Beuren cartoons as possible, so that is pretty much the main reason to see it.

    There are strengths certainly. Quite liked most of the animation, which has come on a lot since (human) Tom and Jerry and Cubby the Bear. Despite the character drawing lacking refinement, the colours even with the simple colour scheme appeals to the eye while the backgrounds are elaborate and meticulous. Even better is the music score, it is so beautifully and cleverly orchestrated, is great fun to listen to and full of lively energy, doing so well with enhancing the action.

    Some of the synchronisation is sharp enough.

    'Spinning Mice' suffers from a lot of things, and with complaints common in the "Rainbow Parade" series. The content is pretty thin, not much to it, and not only are there not enough gags as such but any absurdist humour or surrealism present in some of Van Beuren's earlier work is completely absent. The cartoon is too saccharine and very cutesy in characterisation, some of the sugar excessive.

    None of the characters make much impression. They are flat in personality and they don't really have much to do, what they have is bland. The story is non-existent with little in terms of events and conflict to be engaged by (what there is is very predictable), and the pace never really comes to life. The live action is an interest point but it doesn't add much.

    On the whole, mediocre. 4/10 Bethany Cox
  • comment
    • Author: Marilace
    "Spinning Mice" is a cartoon from Van Beuren Studios--a cartoon producer for less than a decade during the late 1920s and into the 30s. While their cartoons were of decent quality compared to most companies of the time, the quality of their work never came close to rivaling Disney. Part of this was due to the deficiencies of the art and writing of the cartoons but part wasn't really Van Beuren's fault. Disney had an exclusive contract with Technicolor for full-color film stock for several years. Tinier studios like Van Beuren either had to make black & white cartoons of use the less advanced (and uglier) two- color film-- such as with the Cinecolor you see in this particular short. Because it was not true color, the film is made up mostly of oranges and blues and comes off as a bit garish.

    When this cartoon began, I was shocked that it was live-action as some kids were tormenting some live mice. Only after a bit did it become a cartoon, as a mouse tells two somewhat ugly children a story. Naturally, it involves characters that sing--a serious problem in many 1930s cartoons (and VERY often with Van Beuren cartoons). And, naturally, it's a story about a jerk who does nasty things to animals...including mice. But, when he pours his magic formula on them, the mice become evil imps and teach him a lesson. And, the audience is perplexed as to WHAT the heck they just saw! Weird and pretty difficult to enjoy, this sort of stuff is probably why Van Beuren soon folded!
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