In the Pampas of Argentina, Mickey rides along on a rhea. He soon encounters "Cantino Argentino," apparently serving as the local bar and restaurant. Mickey proceeds to enter the establishment and take a seat. He just wants to relax with some drinking and tobacco smoking. Also present at the establishment are Black Pete (later renamed Peg Leg Pete, or just Pete), a wanted outlaw and fellow customer for the time being, and Minnie Mouse, the barmaid and dancer of the establishment, at the time performing a tango. Mickey dances with her and soon both customers begin to flirt with Minnie and to rival one another. Pete proceeds in kidnapping Minnie and attempts to escape on his horse. Mickey gives chase on his rhea, who is now drunk. He soon catches up to his rival and they fight with swords. Mickey emerges the victor of this joust. The finale of the short has Mickey and Minnie riding the rhea into the distance.
In later interviews, Iwerks would comment that Mickey as featured in The Gallopin' Gaucho was intended to be a swashbuckler, an adventurer modeled after Douglas Fairbanks, whose film The Gaucho served as the primary inspiration of the short. This short marks the first encounter between Mickey and Black Pete, a character already established as an antagonist in both the Alice Comedies and the Oswald series. Based on Mickey and Minnie acting as strangers to each other before the finale, it was presumably intended to feature their original acquaintance to each other as well. Modern audiences have commented that all three characters seem to be coming out of rough, lower-class backgrounds that little resemble their later versions. Consequently the short is arguably of some historical significance.
However the feature characters of the short were obscure at best. Mickey was at first thought to be much too similar to Oswald, resulting in the apparent lack of interest in him. Disney would soon start to contemplate ways to distinguish the Mickey Mouse series from his previous work and that of his rivals. Minnie's role as performer and damsel in distress is solidified in this. It is also the first time she wears her distinctive oversized high heeled pumps, although they fall off when she is kidnapped and she spends the rest of the cartoon shoeless. Mickey is also seen wearing shoes for the first time, adding more anthropomorphic traits to the characters which would progressively become more apparent as the years went on.
At the time of its original production though, Walt again failed to find a distributor. It would be first released on December 30, 1928, following the release of another Mickey short. Reportedly Mickey was at first thought to be much too similar to Oswald and this resulted in the apparent lack of interest in him. Walt would soon start to contemplate ways to distinguish the Mickey Mouse series from his previous work and that of his rivals. The result of his contemplations would be the third Mickey short to be produced, the second to be released and the first to really draw the attention of the audiences: Steamboat Willie.
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