Poster

Mickey's Good Deed

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : December 17, 1932

Running Time : 7:33

Synopsis

On Christmas Eve, Mickey needs money to help out a poor mother's desperate children. So he sells Pluto to a rich family - whose spoiled brat gives the pooch a real run for his money.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Adelbert
Adelbert's Father
Butler

Credits

Director
Bert Gillett
Animation
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Ben Sharpsteen
Tom Palmer
Hardie Gramatky
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Dick Lundy
Norm Ferguson
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi

Video

United States
Jiminy Cricket's Christmas
Germany
Walt Disney's Lieblingsgeschichetn Zu Weihnachten

Laserdiscs

Japan
Jiminy Cricket's Christmas

DVD

United States
Classic Cartoon Favorites : Volume 8 : Holiday Celebration with Mickey and Pals
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Canada
Classic Cartoon Favorites : Volume 8 : Holiday Celebration with Mickey and Pals
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 19, 1955

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

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 : Okay, we’re still in Christmas mode, here, albeit the Christmas of 1932. Mickey’s Good Deed is the contribution from the Mickey Mouse series to the holiday season, and it is one of the best Mickey Mouse cartoons I’ve ever seen. Everything I want from a Mickey Mouse cartoon is right here in this short.

To start with, this is the most expressive and well acted Mickey I’ve seen in a while. Some of the previous shorts in 1932 featured Mickey in some side roles or focused on other actions, but here, Mickey is front and center. He and Pluto start off the short begging in the snow, looking for money by playing a large bass.

Their hunger and desperation leaks through, even though Mickey has a smile on his face the majority of the time. You feel sorry for Mickey and Pluto, which is quite an accomplishment. The animators work hard here to establish Mickey as the underdog. That’s a big task when he’s the star of the short.

From there, we see a young child who is not interested in any of his toys. The child is the prototypical spoiled brat, not satisfied with anything his father or butler tries to provide. Again, this is all communicated in a brief vignette, meaning the animation works extra hard to get the point across.

Here is where the dilemma comes up. The child hears Pluto’s barking, and decides that he must have Mickey’s dog. The butler is sent after Mickey to get Pluto, but Mickey runs away, refusing to sell. But, Mickey and Pluto come across a household of small children (cats in this case) who are poor, and waiting for Christmas. Again, with no dialogue or signage, the animators get the plight of these cats, with shots of the house, including a fish that is so hungry that it’s literally a head with a skeleton.

Mickey decides that he must sell Pluto and help these children. The pathos of that moment is amazing. At that point, you completely forget that these are drawings on a sheet of paper. These are living, breathing characters, and you feel horrible for Mickey at losing his dog, and Pluto for having to leave his master.

Mickey returns to the poor kittens’ house with a load of toys, and surprises them, all while dressed in a Santa costume. Pluto, meanwhile, gets tortured by the boy and his family, causing his trademark chaos by running all over the place. The juxtaposition of the happiness the kittens show when they discover the toys and the unhappy home of the rich people is a great artistic choice.

Finally, the rich family has had enough, and tosses Pluto out, and spanks the spoiled brat. We see Mickey up on a hill, greeting Christmas by grilling a sausage over a campfire, and he’s built a small Pluto out of snow to keep him company. Our favorite dog surprises him by bursting through the snow, and we have our happy ending.

This short is fantastic. The emotions involved take you on a roller coaster, from sympathy for Mickey and Pluto, to disgust at the spoiled brat, empathy for the poor kids, sadness and pride when Mickey gives up Pluto, ending with happiness as they’re reunited. This is Mickey at his best, a loveable underdog who wins in the end, despite the odds.


From Mac : I'm glad you like this one so much, Ryan. It's one of my favourites too. The whole shorts got a lovely Chistmassy feel, right from the titles which adds sleigh bells to the usual Mickey theme, Minnie's Yoohoo. In fact the snow is falling in front of the iris opening making me wonder if the original titles had snow falling over them too.

However, the real Christmas feel of this cartoon comes from the story. A lovely little tale of selflessness done without any smaltz! We get all the kinds of business and gags we'd expect from a Mickey short of this era, but it's mixed in with a heartwarming story. Even my favourite silly gag – the family is so poor the fish is a skeleton – has an edge of pathos. Great stuff!

A couple of things I noticed; one is the use of wipes in this cartoon, from one shot to the next. It's nicely done and I don't think we've seen it before in a Disney cartoon. Another thing is the portrait on the wall – is that Pete who's the father of all those kids? Also, could that be the same mother who tried to palm her kids off to Mickey and Minnie last Christmas in Mickey's Orphans?


From Bob Wundrock : My dad bought a 50 ft. black and white version of this cartoon back in the 40's. I've viewed that film dozens of times in my (49 year) lifetime. The short version was titled "Mickey's Lucky Break." The short version is somewhat different than "Mickey's Good Deed." Mickey only sells Pluto after he's down-and-out. It ends when the butler tosses Pluto out after all the Xmas rancor with the little pig-boy. Pluto finds Mickey atop a hill, cooking a hot dog.

I was more than pleased to see the full-length colorized version (and tape it) on the Disney Channel a couple years ago. I was just describing the old black and white cartoon to a friend, when "Good Deed" popped up on the Disney Channel - a stroke of luck!


From Tyler Jacobson : Mickey's Good Deed is one of my favorite shorts I have ever seen. The first time I saw a clip from it was on Mickey's Christmas Carol in about 1993.(My parents had taped it in the eighties.)

The short starts out with Mickey playing music for money.(I can't remember everything that happened in the shot, but I think the instrument he is playing gets broken). He and Pluto start walking around and find a mother cat, sobbing because she cannot buy any toys or clothes or food for her kittens. So Mickey goes to the house of a very rich man, sells him Pluto and goes off to buy stuff for the kittens.

Meanwhile, Pluto isn't so sure he likes his new home. Some bratty little pig, (it's really a pig), is starting to treat Pluto like he's a water balloon or something. Finally, the rich man, (the father), has the butler throw out Pluto. Then the boy receives a spanking. Nice christmas present, huh?

Mickey is sitting out in the snow, feeling sad about losing Pluto. So when Pluto arrives, you probably guessed they are very happy.

Oh, the first time I saw this short was on the Disney Channel.


From Jerry Edwards : This is also one of my top favorite Disney cartoons. I hate the early "cheat" scene - coins are clearly shown being thrown into Mickey's cup while he's playing. But, when Mickey empties the cup to buy them some food, only bolts, nuts and screws fall out. I feel the scene could have been done without showing the actual coins, so that it wouldn't be so much of a "cheat". I first got a copy of this from the Disney Christmas TV show "From All Of Us To All Of You" (12/19/58) when shown on the Disney Channel. The later colorized version does add a great deal to the enjoyment of the cartoon for me.
From Ryan : I think that this was a wonderful short that Disney produced. Mickey is seen playing Christmas carols on his cello with a cup on the ground for money. People pass by and drop stuff in it. Mickey later empties it and sees they're nuts, bolts, and screws. Wasn't that mean of those little #@!*#% and on Christmas Eve too! The reason why I like it so much is because it really touches your heart. Mickey is poor and he sells Pluto (even though he doesn't want to) so that he can buy gifts for a poor mother's children. Let me tell you, the conditions in that house were awful. The cupboards had rats and mice scurrying around and the fish was so thin that it was just a swimming skeleton. Mickey may not have had anything better happen to him at the end (except getting Pluto back who brings him the turkey), but he felt good about helping people even worse off than he.
From Baruch Weiss : I have learned a lesson from this cartoon. You should never mistreat your pets. If Mickey saw what that pig was doing to Pluto he would of given him a piece of his mind.
From Chris Purdue : A perfect ten. This is my absolute favorite of the black and white Mickey cartoons. I was about thirteen or fourteen the first time I saw it on the videotape of Jimminy Cricket's Christmas. I loved cartoons at that time, but I had never experienced one that made me feel for the poor guys (Mickey and Pluto) as I did then. It is amazing to me that even at that early time in animation history, lines and drawings could inspire such emotion.
From Bill I. : Perhaps one of the most important Mickey shorts, on par with The Band Concert and Steamboat Willie. The reason Mickey is so well-loved is because of his heart and concern about others. His generosity is shown even more so than in The Whoopee Party or Mickey's Orphans. In the depths of the depression at Christmas Time, Mickey is trying to make some money for food by playing his cello, his only possession besides his pal pluto. This short tugs at the heartstrings; when Mickey looks in his cup for money, just nuts and bolts fall out. His expression here and when his cello is destroyed are timeless. Even though a rich man would give Mickey good money for Pluto, he refuses. Then when he sees a family worse off than he is, he makes the sacrifice and sells Pluto for money and buys the family gifts. It is this kindness and feeling for others that makes Mickey a cut above the rest. Poor Pluto is treated like a playtoy and tormented by the spoiled kid till the father throws Pluto out. I thought the last scene with Mickey atop a hill eating a hotdog with a snowman made up to look like Pluto whom he thought was lost was nicely done. Finally Pluto finds Mickey and both have a great reunion, complete with the family's turkey for them to eat. A solid 10!
From Billy Joe : This short is both funny and touching. Mickey (who seems to be poor in this short) ends up selling Pluto to a millionaire. Mickey uses him money wisely, he buys toys for a group of kittens that belong to a very poor mother. Meanwhile, Pluto is being mistreated by a bratty child. Pluto runs out of the mansion back to Mickey Mouse. This short has a moral: do good deeds for others and you will be rewarded. This cartoon is indeed a classic, so it gets a perfect 10.
From Blaziken86580 : Sometimes sacrifice can be good so you can help people.
From Lee Suggs : Mickey's Good Deed is my favorite Mickey Mouse short. While not as well crafted as The Band Concert or as inventive as Thru the Mirror, I believe it has a moral power that these and indeed most cartoon shorts lack. The short portrays Mickey as destitute (note the ragged shorts) and homeless on Christmas Eve. His only possessions are his dog and his cello. His attempts to earn money end in a handful of nuts and bolts, and finally in the destruction of his cello. Mickey seems beaten and hopeless. Yet, his attention is suddenly drawn to those even less fortunate than himself. A mother cat weeps because she cannot provide her huge litter of kittens with gifts or even food for Christmas Day. (Is there a message in the family being cats, "Love Thy Enemy"? They even looks like Pegleg Pete in the jailhouse picture on the wall.) Mickey is so saddened by the family's plight that he gives up his last possession, Pluto, to help them. (Of the gifts he buys I especially like the drum that fixes itself after the kitten jumps through it.) Of course, in the end the rich family he sold Pluto to kicks Pluto out, and Mickey is reunited with his faithful friend. (with a turkey to eat no less!)

So why do I feel this is an important short? Remember that the Christmas of 1932 was probably the worse time of the entire Great Depression. Hoover was still president, and it was probably impossible for most families to buy gifts for their children. They might not even be able to afford a Christmas Dinner. Most Americans must have felt pretty hopeless, and it must have seemed like things were never going to get better. Enter Mickey portrayed as one of them, in a situation similar to their own lives. By being selfless he is able to overcome his own hopeless situation to make a difference in someone else's life.

This must have been an important message to people at that time. All was not lost, even the most destitute person could help someone else. Mickey's situation at the end of the short is not any better than at the beginning. (except for that turkey.) Life, for most people watching Mickey's Good Deed, wasn't going to improve anytime soon. However, this short offered the hope that if people stuck together and helped each other things could get better. You didn't have to be helpless. You could still make a difference if you tried hard enough. This attitude, later expanded by President Franklin Roosevelt, helped lead the United States out of the depression. Mickey was probably more a reflection of this attitude, than an inspiration for it, but I believe this short offered hope at a hopeless time. Pretty impressive for a cartoon character.


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