Steamboat Willie (1928)

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Steamboat Willie (1928)

Steamboat Willie (1928). 8 minutes. Directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Voices by Walt Disney. Music by Wilfred Jackson and Bert Lewis.

Steamboat Willie is a black-and-white animated Disney short that was the first cartoon of any kind to use completely synchronized sound. It draws thematically from both the 1911 song “Steamboat Bill” and the 1928 silent Buster Keaton comedy Steamboat Bill, Jr., but it was also inspired by the technological revolution launched by¬†The Jazz Singer (1927), the first feature-length movie to use partially synchronized sound. Steamboat Willie is notable today for its historical achievement and for being the first widely successful cartoon to feature Mickey Mouse, but in addition to these accomplishments, it remains extremely silly and a good example of how charming early animation could be.

The story follows the iconic rodent protagonist as he works on a riverboat. A large cat (Pete) orders Mickey around and banishes him from the ship’s bridge. Mickey … Read the rest