Happy Birthdaze is a 1943 short produced in Technicolor by Walt Disney Productions and directed by Dan Gordon. This short starred Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Danny Dog, Mickey's Navy pal who is an individual prone to cause mischief and annoy others. The short was released on July 16, 1943.
It's Mickey's birthday, and Minnie managed to get enough rationed sugar to bake him a cake, so she invites him over. Danny is suicidal because he never gets any mail; Mickey invites him, too. But Danny is also accident prone. He goes to wash his hands, and manages to flood Mickey right into the sewer. He assembles the ingredients, then manages to get them all over Mickey. Minnie tells Mickey to wash up; Danny runs the water, and we get another flood. Danny decides Mickey needs to play some games, so they play baseball, golf, and hockey in Minnie's living room, all ending disastrously for everybody. Mickey manages to cut a hole in the floor; Danny falls in, Mickey throws a rug on it, then Minnie arrives carrying the cake and falls in. Soon, everyone's in the furnace in the cellar.
- Mickey Mouse (voiced by Walt Disney)
- Minnie Mouse (voiced by Bea Benaderet)
- Danny Dog (voiced by Clarence Nash)
- Unnamed british dog with monocle
- Other sailors
In 1941, Walt Disney began producing World War II short films, in order to help the US Army, this film is one of them, because of its setting in the Navy, where Mickey and Minnie are sailors, in a similar way to Der Fuehrer's Face, which features Donald Duck in a nightmare setting working at a factory in the German Army. Unlike Der Fuehrer's Face, Mickey and Minnie were not dreaming about the German Army.
Around December 1941, Dan Gordon left to join Disney after the box-office failure of Fleischer's Mr. Bug Goes To Town. He attempted to enter Terrytoons-style gags into the Disney cartoons. His first short film starring Mickey Mouse was You're A Sap, Mr. Jap. The cartoon, which gets its title from a novelty song written by James Cavanaugh, John Redmond and Nat Simon, finds Mickey singlehandedly defeating the crew of a Japanese battleship (in which two of their crew members posed as fishermen) in the Pacific Ocean. The cartoon was later kept out of commercial release for years due to its racially offensive (although historically important) caricaturing of the Japanese and to the climactic sequence where the Japanese naval commander commits suicide by drinking gasoline and consuming lit firecrackers.
His next cartoon, Seein' Red, White, 'N' Blue, starring Honest John (from Pinocchio) where he tries to steal chickens for his general, a fox caricature of Adolf Hittler, and the ending, H. John is arrested by the US Army, who were played by dogs. After that cartoon, Honest John became the star of other 20 cartoons.
The following cartoon, A Jolly Good Furlough is about where Mickey is doing a great job of sinking Japanese ships (complete with toilet-flush sound effect). A carrier pigeon brings him notice that he's been granted a month furlough, which he plans to spend with Minnie and his two nephews Morty and Ferdie (the two who are redesigned for the film and are wearing U.S. Navy uniforms rather than their nightshirts from the early 30's). But on arrival, he's run over by Minnie, who immediately leaves him alone with his nephews, who are practicing home defense. Mickey falls for their booby-trapped hammock, and also barely survives the demonstrations of their other skills, notably camouflage. He ends up in a beehive; the displaced bees take up residence in a gas mask, which a nephew slaps on Mickey; the bees then manage to fly Mickey all through the house, then drop him on the ground, where his nephews bandage him all too thoroughly. That's enough for Mickey, who heads back to the front; the pigeon tries to deliver notice of an extra two weeks, but Mickey will have none of it.
Another cartoon of whom you may recall, The Hungry Goat, stands out as an attempt to bring a new, screwball character to the screen, heavily influenced by contemporary WB shorts.
Starting with this cartoon, Disney tried introducing a new "comic relief" sidekick to the Mickey Mouse series. His name was Danny Dog. The character, however, did not become too popular. He only appeared in this short, The Marry-Go-Round (directed by Clyde Geronimi) and Moving Aweigh.
- [Danny pulls out a gun to commit suicide]
- Mickey: Hey, what's eatin' you?
- Danny: Gee, I never get no letters! Nobody loves me!
- Mickey: That's funny. I like ya. You're cute, and good lookin'! Why, your face looks like Bob Hope!
- [Danny pulls out an even BIGGER gun to commit suicide]
- Mickey: Er.... I mean, uh...... Bing Crosby!
The short film received mixed reviews because it had the character of Danny, as well as the ending. Some criticized about the suicidal jokes and Danny's personality, while others have praised for its slapstick humor and animation.
About the short film
- Danny Dog is an alternative reality counterpart to Popeye's pal, Shorty.
- The ending, where it's implied that Mickey shot and killed Danny, is often cut from TV showings.