130. The Nifty Nineties – Riley Thomson

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SUMMARY: A nostalgic depictions of the 1890s is viewed through the meeting and courtship of Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

WHY IT’S HERE: ‘The Nifty Nineties’ is a twee, nostalgic little film that looks longingly and rose-tintedly back on the final decade of the 19th century (the decade, incidentally, when animation first began to capture public imagination). It’s fascinating to see nostalgia from the viewpoint of an era that is now so long ago itself and the cartoon is also swooningly lovely to look at. The sophistication of Disney’s feature films is noticeably creeping in to the shorts at this point, with two terrible vaudeville comedians (caricatures of animators Ward Kimball and Fred Moore) looking like they stepped straight out of the previous year’s masterpiece ‘Pinocchio’. ‘The Nifty Nineties’ is also notable for marking a noticeable wind-down of the Mickey Mouse series. As his more comedically viable co-stars began to branch out on their own, Mickey’s star slowly started to descend and his appearances became less frequent. While he retains his iconic status more powerfully than Donald or Goofy, Mickey would be retired from theatrical shorts in some ten cartoons time and would not return to this forum until the mid-80s. Donald and Goofy make the briefest of cameos in ‘The Nifty Nineties’, cycling by quickly as if they want nothing to do with this older style of slow-paced, quaint cartoon. It’s beautiful to look at but this rather syrupy short is really here as an intriguing mark of shifting sensibilities in Disney’s animated shorts.

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