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Steamboat Willie

On Nov. 18, 1928, Walt Disney released a short, black and white animated film that experts agree, forever changed the motion picture industry. In seven minutes and 23 seconds, the animated short, Steamboat Willie introduced the world to a mouse named Mickey, his girlfriend, Minnie and a revolutionary new way to view an animated film.

This film brought animation out of the silent-film era. This was the first cartoon to match sound with action. Inspired by the film, The Jazz Singer , Walt Disney seemingly chose an unlikely hero to usher in what would become the golden age of animation.

In case you’re not familiar with the plot, Disney.wikia.com offers the following summary:

The film begins with Mickey piloting the Steamboat Willie riverboat down a river, happily whistling along to the tune of Steamboat Bill. He pulls a rope to sound the steamboat’s three whistles. The tall and medium whistle sound off in synch but the shortest one stays quiet until a good hit from the medium one. Unbeknown to Mickey, angry Captain Peg Leg Pete appears behind him and grabs Mickey’s torso, stretching it in the process and switches places with him behind the wheel. He proceeds to yell at Mickey and then and sends him back down to the deck. Mickey salutes weakly while Pete turns around. To his back, Mickey blows a raspberry. Pete turns around angrily to see Mickey weakly waving his hands, possibly indicating it was just gas…
The film then cuts to a shot of Podunk Landing with two chickens, a duck and a cow stationed on the dock…
Just then, Minnie Mouse appears on the scene running to catch up to the steamboat. Mickey jumps aboard the ship and takes off leaving Minnie yelling at the dock. She proceeds to run alongside the river after the steamboat. Calling for help, Mickey hears her and decides to lower the crane to catch her. The crane is lowered by Minnie and the hook proceeds to gently lift of her dress and grab hold of her bloomers carrying her onto the ship. As she is lowered, Minnie drops her fiddle and Turkey in the Straw sheet music which bounces over to a goat. The goat sees it and begins to eat the sheet music. Minnie is lowered to the ship and the hook pulls her dress back down. Minnie is happy to see Mickey and turns shyly away to see the goat eating her sheet music. The goat then starts on the fiddle and Mickey attempts to yank it out of his mouth. Mickey struggles but can’t pull it out and falls on the ground launching the fiddle into the goats body which proceeds to bounce around causing music notes to sound. Mickey hears this and the gets the idea to use the goat as a phonograph. He opens the goats mouth and calls Minnie over. Minnie gets the idea and begins to “crank” the goats tail and Turkey in the Straw begins to play. What follows is a lively rendition of the song where Mickey uses a barrel and garbage can as drums, bangs on pots and pans, strokes a washboard, pulls on a cats tail to make it sing and swings it around his head, uses a duck as a makeshift bagpipe, pulls on little piglets tails to make squeaks, and finally uses the cows teeth as a makeshift xylophone.
After the song, Mickey take a bow and finds Peg Leg Pete scowling at him. He attempts to walk away but Pete grabs hims and sends him below deck to peel potatoes. Mickey begins to work when the parrot flies into the window and begins to mock and laugh at him again provoking Mickey to throw and half-peeled potato at him sending the parrot splashing into the water. Triumphant, Mickey begins to laugh bring the picture to a close.

For more on the creative mind of Walt Disney, check out these titles.

2 Comments to “Steamboat Willie”

  1. Billy Torrillo says:

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  2. Murray Carrion says:

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