Poster

Mickey's Man Friday

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : January 5, 1935

Running Time : 8:37

Synopsis

On a desert island, Mickey befriends the monkeyfaced native Friday, a cannibal whose brothers had planned him to be their evening meal. When the entire tribe returns to get even, Mickey and Friday hold them off from a boobytrapped fort.

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Friday

Credits

Director
Dave Hand
Animation
Johnny Cannon
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi

DVD

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
The Mickey Mouse Club : January 16, 1956

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 released to the home movie market under the name "Robinson Crusoe Mickey." It is loosely based on the book "Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel Defoe.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : In the course of watching these shorts, I’ve owned up to a few favorite things outside of the Disney shorts/parks that found their way into these shorts. I love Christmas specials (can’t wait for Prep and Landing next Tuesday), road trip movies or shorts, and now – Rube Goldberg.

If you’re not familiar with Rube Goldberg, he was a fun and interesting guy, who came up with convoluted ways to accomplish simple tasks. Using 27 steps to break an egg, for example. Think of the beginning of Back to the Future, and you’ve got the idea. Why is this relevant?

Well, Mickey’s Man Friday features Mickey and his cannibal friend coming up with an entire Rube Goldberg style fort. It’s a fantastic addition to what could have been a simple short. By having the fort be the source of so many gags, it allows the animators to have a lot of fun even with the ever more watered down Mickey.

I’m getting ahead of myself as usual, though. The story here is that Mickey lands on a beach, and oversees some cannibals getting ready to eat one of their number. His reaction (“Cannibals! Gosh!) is a little more understated than mind would be, but he comes up with a plan and puts together a monster suit from the remains of his boat and scares the cannibals away.

Mickey then befriends the man they were going to eat, and tells the man that he’ll be Mickey’s “Man Friday,” stealing from Robinson Crusoe. To this point, everything is fairly predictable.

Then, Mickey suggests that the two of them build a fort, to defend themselves against the return of the cannibals. From that point forward, the construction and the siege offer rapid fire gags like we have not seen in a while from the Mickey shorts.

The construction goes back to Mickey’s old method of using animals as his tools. He takes old fish bones to saw logs, uses a snake to tie things together and has a pelican hold the tools in its bill. Meanwhile, the cannibal helping him out uses a turtle to drive in nails or pegs by dancing on its back and knocking its head into things. Very funny stuff.

Then, when the cannibals attack, the gags keep coming. One forward attacked gets caught in a trap, and that sets off a horn that alerts Mickey and his friend. Mickey runs to a basket that gets pushed to the control tower, with the help of his friend running on a treadmill. Then there’s more – spears launched by a tree being bend and a drum knocked into them, Mickey pulling a string and pulling a plant up around a cannibal, and then there’s the final gag.

Mickey and his cannibal friend escape on a wire, then slide down onto the beach, where Mickey has built a boat. He has a turbine, with turtles snapping at food trying turning the cranks in the engine, and he and his friend sail away, leaving the island behind.

The crazy inventions are the thing that makes this one so fun for me. Mickey is really not the same person as he was earlier in his career. He’s limited here to mild reactions and interactions, but not the heroic stuff he pulled off earlier in his career. This is an example of how to use this new Mickey effectively.


From Mac : I really like this one. It combines a lot of elements from Mickey's adventure-type stories mixed in with the great music, synchronized action and sight gags we usually expect from Mickey cartoons. Maybe I'd have liked to have seen Mickey get involved in more heroic deeds and peril, like in Two Gun Mickey. It's not that Mickey isn't brave in this one (he is the one who rescues Friday), but a lot of the time he's stuck holding fort, rather than at the heart of the action. This is one of those Mickey cartoons I could imagine at double length with an additional plot twist and an extra scene of danger and determined escape.

One thing that strikes me about this cartoon is how energetic and crisp the animation is. Following on from Tortoise and the Hare, we see the animators trying out some new things with the characters that keeps their actions extra smooth and zippy. Check out the scene where Mickey turn to the audience and says "Gosh! Cannibals!" in slow motion. As he turns, for just a couple of frames, he has multiple eyes and leaves a slight outline of his face behind. Then, as he talks, there are moments where he becomes 'off-model' and his head and mouth are exaggerated in size. At full speed, it's difficult to notice this, but throughout the cartoon Mickey and Friday remain very pliable with lots of squash and stretch. Also everything in their bodies always follows a very smooth and clear line of action as they move. It looks great!


From Josh Brinkley : This cartoon is quite similar to Trader Mickey. We've got Mickey encountering cannibals, except that he's not the one who's going to be cooked. It's Friday. Friday has trouble communicating with Mickey (this isn't like the Charlie McCarthy short, "Africa Speaks English"). "Me Mickey, you Friday," says Mickey. Friday just repeats it. Friday is also very skilled with his feet. He can chop down a tree holding the axe with his feet. Well, lucky for them, they escape the wrath of the cannibals by landing onto Mickey's boat. Bon Voyage!
From Jerry Edwards : Mickey lands on an island, rescues a native (Friday) from cannibals by scaring them off, and befriends Friday. They fight off a later attack by the cannibals until Mickey and Friday escape in Mickey's boat. A fun cartoon, full of action and gags - but full of black caricatures.
From Ryan : As Josh Brinkley pointed out above, this short is similar to the earlier short Trader Mickey. I liked the scenes where Mickey was trying to talk to Friday by saying "Me Mickey, you Friday." Friday just repeats him. Friday sure seemed skilled with his feet when he was helping Mickey to build the fort. This is one of my favorite Mickey cartoons and I wish the Disney Channel would air it.
From Ross : I had never, ever, ever, ever seen this cartoon at all. But I finally got to see it for the first time on the new Walt Disney Treasures set, Mickey Mouse In Black and White Volume 2. It was wonderful! Mickey rescues a native from some cannibals by scaring them away. Then Mickey and the native become best friends, and Mickey names him Friday. I liked the part when Friday repeated Mickey's line, "You Friday, me Mickey." Next, Mickey and Friday build a fort together, and when the cannibals come back, Mickey and Friday start fighting with coconuts, spears, a boxing glove, and a mallet. Suddenly, the cannibals break into the fort and start throwing their spears at our heroes! Mickey and Friday escape out of the fort, jump into Mickey's boat, and Mickey and Friday sail off into the sunset happily ever after. I bet when children saw this cartoon back in theaters in 1935, I bet they started cheering happily for Mickey and Friday when they were fighting off the cannibals. One thing really amazed me when I first saw this cartoon. The voice of Friday was done by Billy Bletcher, best known as the voice of Mickey's nemesis, Pete! This cartoon was sensational, and even though it had a lot of racist black stereotypes, it had good gags, and a very happy ending.
From Chris C. : I think this is one of the funniest cartoons of all time, especially since it is so timeless. In the beginning where all of the savages are jumping up and down to their jungle-music is much like the present day savages who jump up and down at rap concerts. The only difference is today they wear jerseys, baggy pants, and crooked baseball hats. When Mickey says "Me Mickey, You Friday" and the savage does not understand and repeats him, it is much like dealing with one of the present day savages who works in a McDonalds. It was very interesting to see how the great Mickey Mouse was able to outsmart the savages with just a little ingenuity. I'm sure the ACLU would have a real problem with Mickey Mouse these days!
From Bill : This was a nice action short with lots of sight gags and some nice animation, especially when Mickey is coming to the island on the boat. The gag men had a field day here, with Mickey scaring off the cannibals with his monster barrel to the defense of the fort he and Friday built for defense. Of course, the native stereotyping of blacks was blatant, but that was the was things were in 1935. But it was just great to see the Mick triumph again!

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