Monday, January 20, 2014


 RELEASE DATE: Sunday 18th November 1928

SYNOPSIS: Mickey Mouse is working on a steamboat owned by the nasty Captain Pete. On their trip they pick up a bunch of animals as well as Mickey's girlfriend Minnie. Preferring to play over doing his chores, Mickey creates a party using the animals as instruments.

HAKU: I think Plane Crazy had better pacing than Steamboat Willie. There wasn't really any story to this.
IRVYNE: You can see that this film was clearly designed for the sound effects. It's kind of hard for us to even fathom what a huge thing this was back in 1928. To our way of thinking, of COURSE you sync the sound to the cartoon. That's what you do, that's what you've always done. But for people who had NEVER seen anything like that before, it was simply revolutionary.
I had a little look to see if this was Peg-Leg Pete's first appearance, but Wikipedia tells me no. Pete is actually an older character than Mickey. He made his debut back in the old Alice cartoons.

HAKU: LOTS of cruelty to animals here! I hope the kids of the 20s didn't go home and try to get music out of their animals. Although at least Mickey only throws a potato at the parrot at the end. I was almost expecting him to throw the knife!

IRVYNE: Mickey is an animal himself though! So could we just put this down to survival of the fittest? Natural selection...? It's almost become like an in-joke with Disney cartoons. I mean, some animals are anthropomorphic, so their basically humans who look like animals. But then there are REAL animals in the same universe. Like Goofy vs. Pluto. I love this little gag in Fantasia 2000.

The look on Donald's face says it all.
As a side-note, as we're watching all these old Mickey Mouse cartoons, if anyone hasn't seen Frozen yet, make sure you're there for the pre-movie cartoon, and if it's at all possible, make sure you see it in 3D. It's fantastic. So creative!
Anyway. Back to Steamboat Willie.
I'd be interested to find out what their process was. I'm assuming they would have had to do the music first, so that they could animate everything to fit. I suppose it's hard to assume ANYTHING because they did animation so differently back then.

HAKU: Well the bit where Mickey's playing the cow's teeth shows that. They would have had to know the timing of the melody so that he could play it correctly. It probably would have been storyboarded first, and they would have had timing sheets to take to the recording studio.

IRVYNE: So Steamboat Willie was undoubtedly a milestone for the entire film industry. As a standalone piece in 2014, it's entertaining, but between the two of us, I think we both preferred Plane Crazy for pure entertainment value.

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