Release date: May 14, 1932.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Directed by: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger (associate).
Animation: Isadore "Friz" Freleng and Thomas McKimson.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.
This is the first animation credit to Thomas McKimson in which he later became a layout artist for Bob Clampett, and his two other brothers Charles and Robert were animators; one of whom would pursue a career in directing.
Music starts playing and the mouse invites all the mice out of their mice holes to join into the party, and even an elderly mouse that wants to join in the dancing, but little mice keep on running through his legs, in which the elderly mouse spins. The mice climb down the tables by landing on a chordian, that pushes down so the mice can step off. While the music is playing and the mice are singing to the title song, it appears to be that "when the cat's away, the mice will play".
There is this complicating gag of a mouse that's stuck in a recorder as a metronome, and so he's flung off: he lands on a double-bass, then onto a horn, then on a fiddle, and lands on a clarinet in which multiples come out of the clarinet holes which is reused multiples from Hold Anything. The multiplied-mice start off by jumping on top of a drum in which starts off a rhythm. Another pair of multiplied-mice start off on top of a flute, and start to play the American theme to The Girl I Left Behind Me. A group of mice start to dance, and the dance is all reused from Hold Anything. I admit that the reuses don't put me off too much, but it fits well as it fits with the "mice will play" story.
The cat crawls up to the mice that are dancing, but as soon as a cuckoo-clock strikes, all the mice turn around and run away. Which means that the cat will have to chase after them. The cat chases after the mouse, by turning upwards and downwards, and the mouse stands by a mousetrap, and it snaps as it makes a turning point.
The mouse preying though reminds me of a scene similar to a cartoon produced by Ising in 1940 called Puss Gets the Boot (known to be the first Tom and Jerry), but that cartoon wasn't made until 8 years, and I wonder if Ising re-used his ideas into that, even though Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera were the directors.
The mice finally start their revenge towards the cat, by shooting drum sticks like a bow & arrow, and the drumstick hits on the cat's bum and screams. I must say, that piece of animation of the drumsticks hitting the cat's bottom really has some weight into it, it really looks as though it does hurt, and that's a good thing. The mice continue to be shooting their drumsticks from harp-strings, but then that animation doesn't look like it hurts. The scene where the mice use a blow torch to burn the cat's bottom might be funny, but the scene where the cat gets knocked out by hitting a bass drum, is funnier. The mice start to shoot pins from a phonograph, and the cat finally jumps out of a window into the distance, the other mice celebrate - and that's all folks!
I must say that this was actually a pretty, pretty good cartoon - one of Harman-Ising's best efforts in that era I have to say. This is when I think that they were really trying. They used a great theme for a cat-and-mouse. The musical score by Frank Marsales is just wonderful, and usually I find his music very repetitive and bland, but his score is just great; he really captured the story into his score. The gags between a cat and mouse had potential, and this cartoon may not be equivalent to a Tom and Jerry cartoon, but it was certainly good for it's time. As it was made in 1932, this cartoon has been nominated for an Academy Award, and I feel it deserved a nomination, even though Disney's Flowers and Trees won it.