For some reason, I always think this cartoon is B&W. It’s not. I don’t think Disney was doing much B&W by 1937. It is in fact Technicolor. I wonder if that’s because I’ve seen this short on several clip shows from The Wonderful World of Disney that predated The Wonderful World of Color, and it’s stuck in my brain that way. It’s also fairly early as Mickey Mouse goes, only about ten years after his debut, though it was still his 98th short; it tells you quite a lot about how quickly they were churning those out at the time, really. Its release—strangely, on Christmas Eve—was his ninth short of the year.
A group of ghosts are bored. They decide to contact the Ajax Ghost Exterminators, which of course translates to “Mickey, Donald, and Goofy.” They figure they can mess around with Our Heroes and have some fun that way. Our Heroes do indeed come to the creepy, tumbledown house the ghosts are inhabiting, and it goes about as well as the various other exploits they’ve had over the years. In the end, they triumph in pure accident, because that’s how ’30s Disney shorts where the Big Three do things tend to go.
I have seen this one a lot of times. Again, it’s aired a lot on things like Disney’s assorted Halloween clip shows. I don’t actually remember it beat-for-beat, because it’s one of a series where Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are trying to accomplish some task or another and are being thwarted. Unusually, this one they’re actively being thwarted, by the ghosts, and not merely dealing with the vagaries of the physical universe around them. You almost feel as though the ghosts could stand back and watch things happen and not really worry about it.
This is, however, notable for being the origin of Goofy’s “something wrong here!” It became a bit of a catchphrase for him over the years, since that does seem to be a pretty basic reaction of his to the world in general. Again, in this case a ghost, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s just kind of what happens, when you’re a cartoon character. I’ve always been fonder of Goofy than Donald simply because Goofy figures he’ll get through it and is not reduced to incandescent rage. It seems healthier, and it’s nice that Goofy doesn’t take everything so personally.
The ghosts have a bit of personality, and they’ve been brought back by Disney for assorted appearances in the decades since the short’s debut—three days after Snow White, in fact. But if they have, for example, a cameo somewhere in the Haunted Mansion or something like that, I don’t know about it. It would be cure, especially if it was just a corner-of-your-eye thing and not something they harped on. These ghosts aren’t really right for that attraction. But they don’t seem to be right for much else Disney does, and they haven’t lingered in quite the same way as some other minor Disney characters.