Poster

The Wayward Canary

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : November 12, 1932

Running Time : 7:19

Synopsis

Mickey's bought a canary to give Minnie as a pet, but doesn't know that the bird has a bunch of hatchlings in her cage, too. When they get away and fly around Minnie's house, an old cat tries to catch them and Mickey destructively tries to keep that from happening.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Pluto

Credits

Director
Bert Gillett
Animation
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Norm Ferguson
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi

Cut Scenes

Mickey uses a cigarette lighter with a design of a backwards swastika on it. This scene seems to have since been restored.

DVD

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 21: Goin' to the Birds
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 76
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 12, 1955
The Mickey Mouse Club : May 2, 1957

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

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : The Mickey cartoons of the 1930s have really hit their stride, taking cues from earlier Disney animation such as Oswald and Alice and turning the old gags into new fodder. That continues with The Wayward Canary, which takes the idea of animals running wild in the house to a new place with the addition of the canaries.

The thought is simple – Mickey brings home a beautiful canary as a present to Minnie. They start playing music and encourage the canary to join in, then it is revealed that the canary actually came with a flock of baby birds, who proceed to get loose from the cage and join in the fun. Of course, as in any good Disney production, something goes horribly wrong, and hilarity ensues.

The animation of the canary and its babies is superb. Seeing that many birds flying around Mickey and Minnie, going back and forth from foreground to background, you realize how difficult that had to be. Now, those effects would be done with computers, duplicating the birds. But in 1932, it was all done by hand, and done very well.

This is a repeat of some earlier shorts, in theme if not the entire story. Mickey’s Orphans and Mickey’s Nightmare featured his children running through the house and destroying things, whereas this features the canaries wreaking havoc. That makes this somewhat unique, and very interesting.

There are some interesting little Easter eggs hidden in this short as well. As the canaries are playing throughout the house, we see some framed portraits autographed and addressed to Mickey. One is of Douglas Fairbanks, and the other looks to be Mary Pickford, although I’m not certain on that one. But the inclusion of these is interesting, since Walt wanted Mickey to be a cartoon version of Fairbanks when he started out.

As has been the case with most of the recent Mickeys, the gags are fast and furious in this one. Watching the canaries run wild in the house, we get them dipping themselves in ink, so that they leave a lengthy trail everywhere they go, staining shirts, carpet and more. Pluto even gets into the action, as one of the canaries flips a hot coal from the fire into his bottom. And of course, Mickey and Minnie’s efforts to catch the canaries are just as funny.

The finale is cliché at this point as well, but it works, so why change? Pluto and Mickey chase the last canary through the yard, trying to save it from a cat while also trapping it. Predictably, they destroy everything in sight.

The fun of this short is seeing the creative ways that the animators had the canaries do their damage. Having them drop creative ink patterns on a shirt, or having Mickey run with flower pots on his feet are just a couple of examples. It feels like they took some extra time with this one to come up with more creative gags, and it shows.


From Patrick Malone : The pictures are indeed of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. But there's a reason for them specifically as well. Fairbanks and Pickford, along with Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith, had just formed United Artists who were now Disney's distributor. So I'm sure it was just a little "thank you" from Disney to his new business associates.
From Mac : Another fun Mickey short, but, for me, not quite in the same league as Touchdown Mickey or The Whoopee Party. I guess Mickey bought the canaries from "Ye Olde Bird Store", featured in the earlier Silly Symphony, and it looks like the cat followed him home!

I do wish the sound could be restored on some of these early cartoons. Some of them sound a little too shrill and this one suffers from it. Also the exploding Mickey head is back – I guess the only way to know when this opening stopped being used for certain is to see the real, original title cards.


From Jerry Edwards : The "wayward canary" is one baby bird which continually evades Mickey, Minnie and Pluto's capture attempts. Once again the birds trash the house - a repetitive gag that I get tired of very quickly.
From Ryan : This short was rather boring to me. Even for the "song and dance" routines. There sure were quite a few birds in that cage. Do canaries really reproduce that many offspring? I also noticed that there were two framed photographs of two different people. One read: TO MINNIE FROM DOUG and the other TO MINNIE FROM MARY. Quite coincidental to me since Mary is the name of one of my mom's friends and Doug is her husband. I do not recommend this short to you unless you're an animation nerd.
From E. Penrose : Heck, no! Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were married at the time. They were also among the founders of United Artists. Was Disney being distributed by UA then? Did the pictures look like Fairbanks and Pickford? (Until I see this movie -- I wish, I wish -- my opinions won't matter.)
From Gijs Grob : The Wayward Canary follows the same lines as The Barnyard Broadcast (1931) and Mickey's Revue (1932). Again, a song-and-dance routine is interrupted by numerous animals, causing havoc. This time, Mickey gives Minnie a canary for a present. It appears to have numerous offspring. These little birds escape and fly all over the house. Before they're all caught, the complete house is wrecked. Among Minnies household there is a lighter with a swastika on it. She also has signed portraits of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Together with Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, they were co-founders of United Artists, the company Disney joined in 1932. These portraits are the first caricatures of real people in a Mickey Mouse film. Moreover, they suggest that Mickey, although being a cartoon character, lives in the real world, among the stars. This concept would be developed into the superb 'Mickey's Gala Premiere' from the next year.
From Bill I. : This Mickey short starts out slowly. Mickey buys Minnie a canary for a present, but does not know that she has lots of baby canaries in the nest. Mickey and Minnie have a good time with the canary until the little birds come out and start wrecking the house. The action really starts when the bird get ink all over everything and Mickey does his best (contributing to the house destruction!) to rein in the birds. One good sight gag is one of the birds getting ink on a shirt on the ironing board creating a floral print. Also very interesting were the pictures of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in the house. Add Pluto and a cat to the chase and it was action till the end. Not one of Mickey's best, but still enjoyable.

Referenced Comments