Short Movie Review: Steamboat Willie

Steamboat Willie Trailer

Steamboat Willie Summary

The film begins with Mickey (nicknamed Steamboat Willie in this short) piloting a steamboat 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 it receives a good hit from the medium one. Unbeknownst to Mickey, an 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. Behind his back, Mickey blows a raspberry. Pete turns around angrily to see Mickey weakly waving his hands, possibly indicating it was just gas. Pete goes to kick Mickey, who races down the stairs, which causes Pete’s leg to miss completely and swing around to kick himself in the rear instead.

Mickey tumbles down the stairs, slips on a bar of soap, and lands in a bucket of water. A parrot nearby mocks him and begins to laugh, which provokes Mickey to throw the bucket of water on the parrot, who squawks for help as Mickey walks away. Pete, who has been watching this whole time, pulls out a slab of chewing tobacco and bites off half of it. He spits in front of him and the spit circles around and hits the bell behind him causing it to ring. Giddy, Pete attempts to do it again. He spits and turns around to watch it hit the bell but gets hit in the face instead which causes him to make a fuss.

The film then cuts to a shot of Podunk Landing with two chickens, a duck and a cow stationed on the dock. Steamboat Willie makes its way around the bend and backs up into the dock. Mickey is lowered down to the dock by a crane near the cow. He fastens a belt around the cow in order to lift him onto the ship. However, the belt is far too big and the cow far too skinny, so all that happens is the cow is caught by the udder hanging upside down.

In a panic, Mickey attempts to bring the cow back down by grabbing her tail and gets sprayed by the udder. The cow is lowered back to the dock and Mickey attempts to tighten the belt to no avail. He looks distraught until he sees a wagon of hay and grabs a big fork load to feed to the cow. The cow happily swallows the entire bale and easily fills out to the size of the belt and is raised to the ship.

Just then, Minnie Mouse appears on the scene running to catch up to Steamboat Willie. 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 goat’s body which proceeds to bounce around causing music notes to sound. Mickey hears this and gets the idea to use the goat as a phonograph. He opens the goat’s mouth and calls Minnie over.

Minnie gets the idea and begins to “crank” the goat’s 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 cat’s 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 cow’s teeth as a makeshift xylophone.

After the song, Mickey takes a bow and finds Peg Leg Pete scowling at him. He attempts to walk away but Pete grabs him and sends him below deck to peel potatoes. Mickey begins to work when the annoying parrot flies into the window and begins to mock and laugh at him again provoking Mickey to throw a half-peeled potato at him, sending the parrot splashing into the water. Triumphant, Mickey begins to laugh and brings the picture to a close.

Steamboat Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was the first time Mickey Mouse was introduced into the Disney World. This is what launched The Walt Disney Company to become one of the greatest and powerful in the film industry. Even though it is Black and White, it is an absolute classic.

Have you seen this short?

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