Day 7: Clock Cleaners (1937)
Starring: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy
Setting: A high-rise clock tower
Plot: Mickey, Donald and Goofy face various obstacles in their job as clock cleaners.
Yada, Yada, Yada…
This short was ranked #27 by animation historian Jerry Beck in his book The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals.
The clock cleaners’ shift begins at 3 pm.
That opening shot of Mickey riding the minute hand in order to mop the clock has to be one of the series’ most iconic.
Goofy wardrobe watch: pink shirt, green coveralls and an orange hat with a green stripe.
Donald appropriately sings “Hickory Dickory Dock” while standing on and cleaning the mainspring with a “WARNING KEEP OFF THE MAINSPRING” sign hanging right over his shoulder.
If the song Goofy is singing sounds familiar it’s because we just heard Pete bellowing its dulcet tones in Mickey’s Amateurs. Surely, its Goofy’s job of cleaning the bells that put the lyrics of “Asleep in the Deep” in his head and not that songs subject matter of drowned sailors.
With his scythe, long beard and an hour glass hanging from his belt, the mechanical statue that first gongs Goofy is Father Time while the second statue to ring his proverbial bell is Lady Liberty.
Donald’s usually the one who is prone to fits of shadow boxing but here, Goofy starts throwing fists too.
Goofy, who is clearly concussed after receiving his fourth blow to the head, nearly kills himself after walking off the ledge of the tower until Mickey rushes in to save his pal.
A Short About Nothing
This short is probably the most popular and critically acclaimed of the “Mickey, Donald and Goofy” series. And, while it doesn’t necessarily stand out to me in the same way it has for others, it did a really good job of giving all three characters much needed equal screen time. It’s also the first time we’ve gotten to see Mickey and Goofy paired off. It never made much sense for Mickey’s character to be taking the same kind of pratfalls as Donald or Goofy would. However, what does work for Mickey is him playing the hero and busting his tail trying to save Goofy from falling to his death. A great way to add some colour back to a marginalized straight man is to allow for some loyalty, grit and selfless heroism.