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Clock Cleaners

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clock Cleaners
Clock Cleaners.png
Theatrical release standee placard
Directed byBen Sharpsteen
Story byWolfgang Reitherman
Produced byWalt Disney
StarringWalt Disney
Clarence Nash
Pinto Colvig
Music byPaul J. Smith
Oliver Wallace
Animation byChuck Couch
Frenchy DeTremaudan
Al Eugster
Wolfgang Reitherman
Bill Roberts
Layouts byWolfgang Reitherman
Backgrounds byWolfgang Reitherman
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • October 15, 1937 (1937-10-15)
Running time
8 minutes
CountryUnited States

Clock Cleaners is a 1937 American animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The cartoon follows Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy working as janitors in a tall clock tower. The film was directed by Ben Sharpsteen and features original music by Paul Smith and Oliver Wallace. The voice cast includes Walt Disney as Mickey, Clarence Nash as Donald, and Pinto Colvig as Goofy.[2][3][4] It was the 97th short in the Mickey Mouse film series to be released, and the eighth for that year.[5]

Clock Cleaners is one of Disney's most critically acclaimed short films. In 1994, 1000 members of the animation field voted Clock Cleaners as the 27th greatest cartoon of all time.[6] This cartoon was released two months before Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).


Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are assigned to clean a tall clock tower. Mickey is outside cleaning the face with a mop by riding on the second hand. Goofy is inside the building cleaning gear teeth with a large toothbrush. Donald (singing "Hickory Dickory Dock") starts to mop the mainspring, ignoring several warning signs. He gets the mop caught and springs it loose.

Meanwhile, Mickey, now cleaning inside the clock, comes across a sleeping stork which he tries unsuccessfully to remove. As he throws the stork out of the tower, it flies back in and snatches Mickey, carrying him as if he were a baby, then letting go of Mickey before flying back in, leaving him hanging on a rope.

Back inside, Donald is getting the mainspring back into place with a mallet, but he struggles to get the very last piece in place. The loose end of the spring taps Donald and when he shouts at it, the spring responds with an echo of his words. After a brief argument, Donald loses his temper and hits the spring with the mallet, but it sends it back and knocks him off. Donald gets his head stuck in a gear on the balance wheel shaft, and when he finally is free from it, the oscillation makes his body continue to move.

Now outside, Goofy, singing "Asleep in the Deep", is cleaning the outside bell. As he is cleaning the interior of the bell, it becomes 4:00 PM, causing two mechanical statues to come from inside the tower and ring the bell by taking turns striking it, for a total of four times. The first figure, representing Father Time, approaches without Goofy noticing. When the bell rings with Goofy inside it, his head vibrates violently and he sits down. Before he has regained his composure the statue has returned to the tower, and he then looks around suspiciously and says "Mice!" The second figure, representing Lady Liberty, rings the bell from the other side and he is once again vibrated. After the second ring, Goofy is determined to be ready for the next time. As the bell is struck a third time, he leaps out and is ready to attack, but when he sees Lady Liberty coming for the fourth ring, he idiotically apologizes and bows. But then the Liberty figure's torch arm drops and gives Goofy a big knock to the head, putting him in a daze. Mickey is alarmed when he sees Goofy almost fall and tries to save him. At each turn, Mickey is just barely able to save Goofy. At last, Goofy lands on a flag pole that sends him and Mickey to fly through a window into the clock, land on the mainspring which Donald had finally managed to put back together, undoing all the springs again, then all three land in the same gear in which Donald was stuck earlier, causing their bodies to move in a humorous rhythm.



Donald confronts the talking mainspring.
Donald confronts the talking mainspring.

During the 1990s, Donald Wildmon and his fundamentalist Christian organization the American Family Association persuaded Wal-Mart to discontinue the sale of the VHS tape Cartoon Classics: Fun on the Job!, which included Clock Cleaners, due to two perceived uses of inappropriate language by Donald Duck. During his fight with the mainspring Donald responds to the taunting spring by saying "Says who!?" (which is made clear by the spring replying, "Says I!") and then threatens the mainspring, calling it a "snake in the grass". However, due to Donald's unintelligible "duck voice", some believed that he was instead saying "fuck you" to the mainspring and calling it a "son of a bitch".[7]

Due to this controversy, when the film was released on the Walt Disney Treasures DVD set Mickey Mouse in Living Color (2001), Donald's "Says who?" line was redubbed with the line "Aw, nuts!", originally from the On Ice soundtrack. The edit is made obvious by the sound of Pluto barking in the background. The "snake in the grass" line was also redubbed. The same edits occur on several later DVD releases, including The Great Mouse Detective (2002) which included the cartoon as a bonus feature in reference to that film's climactic battle in and around Big Ben, Funny Factory with Goofy (2006), and the bonus Epic Mickey DVD (2010).

Other DVD releases have kept the original line, such as Alice in Wonderland: Masterpiece Edition (2004) which included the cartoon as part of the TV special "One Hour in Wonderland", and Have a Laugh!: Volume 2 (2010) which also included the film's original RKO title cards. More recent broadcasts of the cartoon on Disney Channel have also included the original line.

On Disney+, the "says who?" line is restored, though the "snake in the grass" line is still replaced with angry gibberish.

In the 1980s, Mickey struggling to shove the stork out of the clock tower was deleted, due to time constraints.


Home media

The short was released on December 4, 2001, on Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color.[9]

Additional releases include:

See also


  1. ^ Kaufman, J.B.; Gerstein, David (2018). Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History. Cologne: Taschen. ISBN 978-3-8365-5284-4.
  2. ^ a b Clock Cleaners at IMDb
  3. ^ Clock Cleaners Archived 2011-03-17 at the Wayback Machine at The Encyclopedia of Animated Disney Shorts
  4. ^ Clock Cleaners at the Big Cartoon DataBase
  5. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. pp. 107–109. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  6. ^ Beck, Jerry (ed.) (1994). The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals. Atlanta: Turner Publishing. ISBN 1-878685-49-X.
  7. ^ Bathroom Readers' Institute (2013). Uncle John's Perpetually Pleasing Bathroom Reader (26th ed.). Portable Press. ISBN 978-1607109037. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  8. ^ Clock Cleaners at IMDb
  9. ^ "Mickey Mouse in Living Color DVD Review". DVD Dizzy. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  10. ^ "Mickey's Crazy Careers" Archived 2012-08-01 at at The Encyclopedia of Animated Disney Shorts
  11. ^ The Great Mouse Detective (1986) at

External links

This page was last edited on 28 November 2021, at 04:54
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