Day 18: The Simple Things (1953)
Starring: Mickey Mouse and Pluto
Setting: The beach
Plot: A quiet fishing trip to the beach is interrupted by a pesky seagull.
This would be Mickey Mouse’s last appearance in a Disney cartoon until Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) – 30 years!!!
It took until Day 18 but we finally have an instance where a reasonable amount of food is packed. The contents of Mickey’s lunch pail include two sandwiches, an apple, a banana, some pepper and two hotlinks for Pluto.
The seagull uses flag semaphore to signal “FREE FRESH FISH.”
Sitting by the Campfire
There’s a lot simmering beneath the surface here. I hate to sound like the town wailer but this short is emblematic of what has become of Mickey Mouse – he is now “simple.” He’s no longer the mischievous rascal, the plucky underdog or the daring hero – he’s just “simple.” This is no sudden change either; this is just the final stage of the fifteen year devolution of Mickey Mouse. This toothless and milquetoast cartoon with its maudlin theme song espousing the “Simple Things” is, in essence, eulogizing the once virile and formidable mouse. The Mickey from Thru the Mirror (1936) or The Brave Little Tailor (1938) wouldn’t have let a flock of seagulls get the best of him. Seriously, our lasting image of Mickey Mouse before his thirty year sabbatical is him turning tail and retreating from a few mangy birds.
Sure, Mickey would enjoy a bit of a renaissance with the popularity of Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club (1955 – 1959) (which was more of a vehicle for the human Mousketeers) but the world had become too complicated for a “simple” creature like Mickey Mouse. The decidedly less “simple” Donald Duck had already taken the reigns as the unofficial “Leading Duck” of Disney animation years earlier.
However, Mickey would rise again! And, he has with his current Mickey Mouse (2013 – present) series of shorts (all reviewed here on this very blog) that have restored his character as the mischievous rascal, the plucky underdog and the daring hero that we all love.