Shade #3: Mickey’s Rival (1936)
Starring: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Mortimer Mouse
Setting: The Countryside
Plot: Mickey’s picnic with Minnie is interrupted first by her old flame, Mortimer Mouse, and later by an angry bull.
Box of Chocolates:
Walt Disney originally wanted to call Mickey “Mortimer” after his pet mouse but his wife objected saying the name sounded to “pompous.”
Having a much larger presence in the Mickey Mouse comic strip, this is Mortimer’s only appearance in the classic shorts. He would appear much later in the less-than-stellar Mickey Mouse Works (1999-2000) and The House of Mouse (2001-2003) as well as the Disney Junior show Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006 – present).
Being considerably taller than Mickey with whiskers and buck teeth, Mortimer cuts the figure of a rat more than a mouse.
Minnie clearly still has feelings for Mortimer but Mickey wins out in the end when he saves her from the runaway bull.
The Morning After:
It’s a shame that this is the first and last time we see Mortimer in the classic shorts because he brings out a more interesting and nuanced performance in Mickey. As Mickey got older, he decidedly lost his edge but having a foil like Mortimer would’ve kept him fresher than the stale and milquetoast straight-mouse he would eventually become. It’s also fun to see Minnie with a little history in her ex-boyfriend, Mortimer, who is also a pretty neat character in his own right.
We love Disney. Period.