How to Be a Sailor

A Goofy Cartoon

Release Date : January 28, 1944

Running Time : 7:07


A history of sailing through the ages; from a prehistoric Goofy using a log, through the Age of Sail ("iron men, wooden ships") and on to modern times.




Jack Kinney
John MacLeish


United States
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : The World According to Goofy
Lachkonzert in Entenhausen
Si Disney m'etait Conte
Pippo Pluto Paperino Supershow
Paperino Marmittone
Pippo Pluto Paperino Supershow


United States
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : The World According to Goofy
Disney's Cartoon Jubilee


United States
Disney Treasures : On the Front Lines
Disney Treasures : Wave 2 : The Complete Goofy
Disney Treasures : Wave 2 : The Complete Goofy
Disney Treasures : Wave 2 : The Complete Goofy
United Kingdom
Disney Treasures : Wave 2 : The Complete Goofy


The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 31: The Unseen Disney
The Mickey Mouse Club : November 26, 1957

Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
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 RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.


From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : I’ve made no secret of my intense love for the Goofy “How To” shorts. The creativity of the Disney artists to make Goofy over from a side character in the Mickey series into a star of this series is unmatched. Translating that into wartime could have been a difficult task, but it ended up working well in How To Be A Sailor.

Just like in other shorts, such as The Art of Self Defense, the story of that art is traced from the beginning of time forward. Here, we get to see man’s first trip on the open water, in the form of Caveman Goofy stumbling onto a log in a river.

From there, things progress quickly through the ages. One of my personal favorite scenes in any Disney short is when Goofy lashes himself to the mast of the ship, as was customary during the old maritime days. Watching Goofy’s face as he gets constantly splashed and nearly drowned with water is just priceless. The comedy is amazing in this short, as it is in nearly all the Goofy “How To” shorts.

That’s one of the things I love about these shorts, is the seamless blend of animation acting and comedy that takes place. As each one progresses, we get a new and better acting performance from Goofy as the animators start carving out different personalities for the multiple Goofs. Caveman Goofy is not the exact same as the sailing ship Goofy, but you can still tell that each one is Goofy.

The natural end point for this is for Goofy to join the new US Navy that is part of the World War II fleet. We get to see the Goof in his bed below decks, not only as the sailors but decked out in the most ridiculous commanding officer outfit you have ever seen.

In a hilarious final sequence, Goofy drops the torpedo and ends up in the torpedo tube himself, and is shot across the ocean, downing Japanese ships by the dozens. It’s a great climax to the film because it incorporates the war propaganda message as well as staying true to the spirit of the “How To” shorts. How To Be A Sailor accomplishes both of those goals with ease, and that makes it worth a watch.

From J. D. Weil : I don't know of this qualifies as a blooper or a gag that simply doesn't work due to poor planning, but I feel that I have to comment on it. The closing sequence of How To Be a Sailor shows Goofy trying to launch a torpedo at the enemy but gets himself stuffed into the torpedo tube and gets sent out instead. The problem with sequence is that in the process of launching the torpedo collides head on with the bulkhead and falls to the floor. Even with the logic contained in the cartoon, this action should have sunk the submarine and Goofy would be launched clear to Valhalla instead his intended target. This is one gag that should have more carefully thought out.
From Jerry Edwards : Goofy takes an historical voyage through nautical navigation. The last part of the cartoon has Goofy accidentally loading himself, instead of a torpedo, into the torpedo bay and being shot out at Japanese warships, sinking every one of them - including shattering the symbol of the Japanese Rising Sun.

The cartoon is usually censored in the ending scene. The original scene shows each Japanese warship with a caricatured Japanese face on each.

The uncensored ending is the only interest in this cartoon for me - I'm not a fan of Goofy's "How To..." series.

From Ryan : This short was okay, but it wasn't one of my favorites. For some reason, it didn't interest me in the way that most Goofy shorts do. I enjoyed the way in which the narrator talks about the history of sailors. I do not, however, enjoy the fact that the following scene at the end is censored: Goofy uses himself as a torpedo to blow up a Japanese ship, which contains a Japanese caricature. The caricature scene was the censored part while the torpedo scene was left in.
From Nikki : This would have to be one of my more favorites. The best parts would definitely have to be the sea legs, the flags, and the knots part. All of them were well made.
From Christian : Positively wonderful! I always get a good laugh in the scene where the boat goes right off the edge of the earth, and a surprised King Neptune pokes his head out of the water (with an open mouth and his head over his crown) as Goofy falls (in the boat.)
From Baruch Weiss : This happens to be one of my favorite Goofy cartoons! I loved the scene where the Goofy look alikes are sleeping and they are shown dreaming of women!

Referenced Comments