Mickey is piloting a steamboat when Captain Pete comes to the bridge and throws him off. They stop to pick up cargo. Minnie just misses the boat and Mickey uses the crane to grab her. She drops her sheet music of "Turkey in the Straw" and a goat eats it. With help from Mickey, she cranks the goat's tail, and it plays the tune. Mickey accompanies on percussion and by torturing various animals, until Pete comes down and puts a stop to it, putting Mickey to work peeling potatoes. While this is the first sound Mickey Mouse, there's no dialog. Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
STEAMBOAT WILLIE, a mischievous little rodent, neglects his pilothouse and frolics his way into cinematic history.
On 18 November 1928, a struggling young genius debuted the world's first successful cartoon with synchronous sound. There would be no looking back for either Walt Disney or his alter ego Mickey Mouse. Financial struggles would remain, but essentially the world was their oyster bed and Mickey would eventually rival Chaplin as the most recognizable cultural icon of the century.
As entertainment, STEAMBOAT WILLIE is still fun to watch, featuring fine work by animator Ub Iwerks and showing a Mickey with all the passions & indifference of a small child. He must deal with a tyrannical skipper (Pete, without his peg leg; he had been appearing in Disney cartoons since February of 1925), a wisecracking parrot (in a few years it would be a Duck) and a cute little Mouse named Minnie. Together the two rodents rather callously make music on the live bodies of a goat, cat, goose, piglets & cow (a precursor of Clarabelle) - all of whom happened to be conveniently on board the steamship. Audiences howled for more and the pattern was set for the subsequent Mouse cartoons of the next few years.
Walt Disney (1901-1966) was always intrigued by pictures & drawings. As a lad in Marceline, Missouri, he sketched farm animals on scraps of paper; later, as an ambulance driver in France during the First World War, he drew comic figures on the sides of his vehicle. Back in Kansas City, along with artist Ub Iwerks, Walt developed a primitive animation studio that provided animated commercials and tiny cartoons for the local movie theaters. Always the innovator, his ALICE IN CARTOONLAND series broke ground in placing a live figure in a cartoon universe. Business reversals sent Disney & Iwerks to Hollywood in 1923, where Walt's older brother Roy became his lifelong business manager & counselor. When a mildly successful series with Oswald The Lucky Rabbit was snatched away by the distributor, the character of Mickey Mouse sprung into Walt's imagination, ensuring Disney's immortality. The happy arrival of sound technology made Mickey's screen debut, STEAMBOAT WILLIE (1928), a tremendous audience success with its use of synchronized music. The SILLY SYMPHONIES soon appeared, and Walt's growing crew of marvelously talented animators were quickly conquering new territory with full color, illusions of depth and radical advancements in personality development, an arena in which Walt's genius was unbeatable. Mickey's feisty, naughty behavior had captured millions of fans, but he was soon to be joined by other animated companions: temperamental Donald Duck, intellectually-challenged Goofy and energetic Pluto. All this was in preparation for Walt's grandest dream - feature length animated films. Against a blizzard of doomsayers, Walt persevered and over the next decades delighted children of all ages with the adventures of Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi & Peter Pan. Walt never forgot that his fortunes were all started by a mouse, or that childlike simplicity of message and lots of hard work always pay off.
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