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Western Animation / Plane Crazy

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Mickey Mouse taking a kiss by force. No, really.

"Mickey was based on the character of Douglas Fairbanks Senior. He was the superhero of his day, always winning, gallant, and swashbuckling. Mickey's action was in that vein. He was never intended to be a sissy, he was always an adventurous character. I thought of him in that respect and I had him do naturally the sort of thing Doug Fairbanks would do. Some people got the idea that in Plane Crazy, Mickey was patterned after Lindbergh. Well, Lindy flew the Atlantic, but he was no Douglas Fairbanks. He was a hero to boys because of airplanes and what he had accomplished flying the Atlantic. But Mickey wasn't Lindy— he was Douglas Fairbanks."
Ub Iwerks on the original Mickey Mouse

The debut short of Mickey Mouse, this originally silent cartoon from 1928, while nowhere near as important or revolutionary as "Steamboat Willie" (Ub Iwerks himself said the short wasn't much different than what was being done at the time) is important in that it is not only his debut, but also a prime example of Mickey's original characterization — here, he's a very self-confident, adventurous but overambitious mischief maker who attempts to fly a plane, inspired by Lindbergh (although Mickey himself, as stated above, is based on Douglas Fairbanks). In the meantime, Minnie Mouse joins for a ride as Mickey loses control of his homemade plane. Hilarity Ensues.

The short was made not long after Walt lost the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, drawn and animated entirely by Ub Iwerks in two weeks notice. The short was not particularly popular upon debut, but when Steamboat Willie came around and gave the then declining animation industry (cartoons were falling out of popularity at that point) the kick in the pants it needed via sound, this cartoon was promptly rereleased with sound dubbed over it.


"Plane Crazy" provides examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts: Mickey at one point tries several times to get a kiss from Minnie and eventually resorts to smooching her after scaring her by deliberately letting her fall out of the plane and then catching her. Later, he laughs at Minnie using her panties as a parachute.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Played with in that, while Disney does acknowledge the existence of Plane Crazy, most official sources say that Mickey Mouse instead debuted in the more popular and more influential Steamboat Willie.
  • Characterization Marches On: Oh yeah. Mickey is much more of a jerk than he later became.
  • Episode on a Plane
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Hey, Mickey almost crashed his plane into Felix the Cat! note 
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  • MacGyvering: After his first plane crashes, Mickey is downbeat...until he finds a jalopy nearby. He gets creative and immediately turns it into a makeshift airplane.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The camera zoom near the end was impossible to achieve with Disney's rigid stop motion camera of the time, so he and Iwerks improvised the effect by stacking the background on a pile of books, adding more to the pile per frame to give the illusion that the camera was trucking in towards the background, rather than the other way around.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: An instrumental of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Hail to the Chief" is used early in the picture.
  • Pun-Based Title
  • Running Gag: The "Mickey grabbing a cow's udder and getting milk squirted in his face" gag would be recycled for several other black & white shorts.
  • Whole Plot Reference: This short is essentially Mickey's attempt to emulate Charles Lindbergh aka "Lucky Lindy", who was a pop culture staple of the time because of his solo flight over the Atlantic.