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Disney and the First Mickey

Discussion in 'Silent Animation' started by sidestreetsam, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    Disney made rough sketches of a new character—Mickey Mouse—on his way back to L.A. after losing control of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Back in Hollywood, he assigned Ub Iwerks to animate Plane Crazy, Mickey's first cartoon. Iwerks was to isolate himself from the staffers who had signed contracts with Mintz, including Hugh Harman, Rollin Hamilton, Paul Smith, and Ben Clopton. These staffers would complete the remaining Disney Oswalds, then depart for Mintz's new studio on May 5, 1928. The only artists remaining loyal to Disney were Iwerks and apprentice animator Les Clark.
    Plane Crazy is an American animated short film directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. The cartoon, released in 1929 by the Walt Disney Studios, was the first creation of the character Mickey Mouse. It was made as a silent film and given a test screening to a theater audience on May 15, 1928, but failed to pick up a distributor. Iwerks was also the main animator for this short and reportedly spent six weeks working on it. Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising were credited for assisting him; these two had already signed their contracts with Charles Mintz, but he was still in the process of forming his new studio and so for the time being they were still employed by Disney. This short would be the last they animated under this somewhat awkward situation. The sound version contained a soundtrack by Carl W. Stalling.

    This was the first animated film to use a camera move. The POV shot from the plane made it appear as if the camera was tracking into the ground. In fact, when they shot this scene, they piled books under the spinning background to move the artwork closer to the camera.

    Later that year, Disney released Mickey's first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie, which was an enormous success. Following this, Plane Crazy was released as a sound cartoon on March 17, 1929. It was the fourth Mickey film to be released after Steamboat Willie, The Gallopin' Gaucho, and The Barn Dance (1929). This leads to some ambiguity as to which is the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, as Plane Crazy was the first to be produced while Steamboat Willie was the first to be released.

    Here is the CinePhone sound release.

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  2. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    The Gallopin' Gaucho (1928) was the second short film featuring Mickey Mouse to be produced, following Plane Crazy and preceding Steamboat Willie. The Disney studios completed the silent version in August 1928, but didn't release it in order to work on a sound cartoon Steamboat Willie. It was released, with sound, after Steamboat Willie.

    Both Mickey and Minnie Mouse had already made their debuts with the release of Plane Crazy on May 15, 1928. However that film had also failed to catch the attention of distributors when first produced as a silent film. The Gallopin' Gaucho was a second attempt at success by co-directors Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. The latter also served as the sole animator for it. This is the last time that Walt Disney is the voice of Minnie Mouse.

    As the title implies, the short was intended as a parody of Douglas Fairbanks's The Gaucho, a film first released on November 21, 1927. Following the original film, the events of the short take place in the Pampas of Argentina with Mickey cast as the gaucho of the title.

    Although never released as a silent Plane Crazy was originally produced as such and remains as Disney's last cartoon produced without a soundtrack.

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