Poster

Trader Mickey

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : August 20, 1932

Running Time : 7:10

Synopsis

While taking a shipload of musical instruments along the African coast, Mickey and Pluto are captured by cannibals. The savages plan to eat them until Mickey trades the instruments for their freedom, then engages in a wild jam session to "The Darktown Strutters' Ball."

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Pluto

Credits

Director
Dave Hand
Animation
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Norm Ferguson
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi
Ben Sharpsteen
Kevin Donnelly
Tom Palmer
Dick Lundy
Hardie Gramatky
Jack King

DVD

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
The Mickey Mouse Club : November 30, 1956

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by United Artists Pictures

Comments

  • This short was made as a spoof of the 1931 MGM film, "Trader Horn."

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : What to say about Trader Mickey? It’s definitely a classic Mickey short, in the sense that it follows along with many of the things you’d expect to see in a 1930s Mickey cartoon. But it also harkens back a bit to some earlier shorts, giving us a little more music and frivolity than we have seen in a while with Mickey. It all comes together to make a fun little seven minute package.

The basics are that Mickey is a trader, bringing instruments to the dark jungle on his boat, when he gets captured by cannibals. The opening sequence, with Mickey and Pluto on the boat, is a delight to behold. There is so much kinetic energy there, with hippos popping up around them, Pluto barking at the water and the movement of the boat. It’s a fantastic piece of animation that shows what the animators are capable of doing.

Once captured, though, this short runs in familiar territory. In many ways, it’s similar to Alice Cans the Cannibals, but really borrows more from Cannibal Capers, the early Silly Symphony. The characters in this short could have been borrowed from Cannibal Capers, with the exception of the chief and a couple others. That doesn’t detract from the fact that they are good designs.

The cannibal characters start raiding Mickey’s boat and stealing his instruments, but they don’t know ho to use them, which leads to some very funny gags. The chief wears a corset on his head, a cannibal blows into a violin, another sticks his head in the wrong end of a horn and so on. Each one is better than the last. The comedy builds throughout the sequence in inverse proportion to the danger of Mickey being placed in the soup pot. It’s a great contrast, with the hilarity of the cannibals masking the danger of Mickey about to be eaten.

The last half of the short, though, is a throwback to earlier Mickey shorts, featuring an extended musical sequence. But it’s done in a clever way, as Mickey steals the saxophone from the cook and begins playing it to divert the attention of the cannibals. It works, as the chief starts tapping his feet and playing along, and soon everyone joins in.

The continued misuse of the instruments by the cannibals as they join the musical sequence provides great comedy, and the visuals of having Mickey dance with the cannibals is pretty funny as well.

The ending comes with the chief joining Mickey in a dance and falling backwards into the soup pot. It’s another fun visual in a short that is full of them. This short reminds me of the early shorts, in that the focus is on gags and fun visuals, even though there is a good story involved. It contributes to the sense of fun all throughout the short.

Trader Mickey might be my favorite short of 1932 so far. It’s funny, features great characters, and has striking animation at times. This one is highly recommended.


From Mac : This one's a favorite of mine too. In fact I've watched it enough times to notice there's some odd continuity in the second half of this short, especially if you pay attention to where Mickey and Pluto are from shot to shot, so I was glad to find the animators draft for this one on afilmla.blogspot.com. It appears that the original plan for this short placed certain scenes in a different order and there were also other scenes that never made it to animation.

I suppose music won out over story and, in this case, it may have been the right decision. I only noticed the strange continuity after viewing it several times, but I always enjoy the wonderful flow of the music that builds to a fun, energetic climax.

One fun, but dated gag of note is that the Cannibal King is seen reading 'Ballyhoo' – a humor magazine from the 30's that few remember now.


From Jerry Edwards : Contains some nice animation - the jungle river animals are especially nicely done. Contains some of the strongest black caricatures appearing in Disney shorts. While Disney's racial and ethnic caricatures were generally mild compared to other animation companies of the time - this comes closest to overdoing it, in my opinion.
From Ryan : Mickey and Pluto are going down an African River in this short and get captured by cannibals. This is definitely a strong use of black caricaturing. No wonder Disney banned it from TV. I liked the part where the cannibals were going through Mickey's stuff. One of them took a piece of clothing(I think it was a bra or something like that) and used it to carry her babies in. Another funny scene was where a cannibal is cooking Mickey in soup and dips a saxophone in as a spoon. Mickey grabs it and starts playing "The Darktown Strutter's Ball." Soon all the cannibals are joining in. Two of them pick up violins and blow on them, which causes the strings to break. I noticed that the king cannibal (who swallows a harmonica while playing it) laughed just like Goofy and may have been voiced by Pinto Colvig as well. This short was wonderful and I would give it an A+.
From Bill I. : This was a good short, nice music (all the shorts had good music) but if produced today, the portrayal of the African cannibals would have caused quite a stir. But in Walt's time, this was not the problem it is today. This short had some nice animation, especially in the beginning when Mickey is going down the river the scenes with him going by the hippos was nicely done. I also thought the skulls portrayed during the short were very well drawn. After being captured by the cannibals, poor Mickey was placed in a pot of boiling water and Pluto on a skillet. After the cannibals find all the musical instruments Mickey was going to sell, he saves the day by playing a saxophone the cannibal was stirring him with and gets all the natives dancing and singing. A very lively short.

Referenced Comments