While this was indeed Mickey Mouse's last theatrical short for a
long time (I imagine for those growing up during the 30-year absense),
this was also one of the last cartoons animated by Fred Moore.
Fred died in 1952, only several months before this cartoon was released.
He was the one animator who contributed greatly to Mickey's (physical)
evolution during the 1930's and 1940's.
As for Mickey Mouse, it's horrifying that Walt Disney would allow
THIS to be the final classic cartoon for his most famous character.
But with the time he was devoting to his movies and Disneyland, it would've
been logical to have sort of an "assistant" or "shadow" producer for
his cartoon shorts. By this time, they had already fallen behind (in
terms of quality) the toons produced by Warner Bros, MGM, and UPA. And
aside from the numerous nominations, Disney's animated shorts would
only win 2 Oscars between 1944 and 1969 (compared to the many that was
being won between 1932 and 1943).
In this cartoon, Mickey and Pluto go on a fishing trip. Pluto is
tormented by first a clam, then a seagull, much to Mickey's oblivion.
The seagull then starts messing with Mickey by stealing the fish he's
using for bait. Then the seagull scares both of them away by telling
a rather large flock of seagulls that Mickey and Pluto are "fish food".
Pluto unsuccessfully tries to scare the hungry flock away, but he and
Mickey instead have to make a run for it since they're hopelessly outnumbered.
The first seagull then enjoys the rest of the bait fish he previously
stole from Mickey.
This cartoon has indifferent jokes, a used story, and a rather sad
ending for our heroes. Even though Mickey continued his life on Disney's
TV shows and in theme parks, fans would have to wait 30 long years (even
during Disney's Dark Ages (a time of which was grim for the entire animation
industry, for that matter)) before they finally saw good ol' Mickey
in more promising roles.
Still, it's tragic that the old regime allowed for Mickey Mouse's
theatrical roles to end this way. Even during that time, his popularity
was outrun by Donald Duck, plus non-Disney players (like Bugs Bunny,
Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, etc.)
In the present day, the new regime are still trying new experiments
to revive Mickey's role as a cartoon character (rather than working
only as the eternal mascot of an entertainment empire). We rarely see
any new theatricals, and Mickey's recent roles on TV are slowly showing
progress. Hopefully, upon the passing of the torch to the next regime,
Mickey Mouse will avoid the fate he suffered with the first regime.
The standards in animation had also slipped by this time
as the feature cartoon work was getting most of the time and attention.
Disney would close the shorts department within a few years after this short.
Then animation is good, but very simplistic. Backgrounds have been reduced
to simple "paint-by numbers." Even the gags seem to have been phoned in.
It doesn't seem to have been a proper send off for Mickey at all.
Especially considering what else the Disney people were
coming up with. 1953 saw the wonderful "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" with
it's experimentation with UPA style animation. It also saw the emergence
of Humphrey the Bear, one of the best characters that Disney ever came up
with. If Mickey got short shrift, it certainly wasn't because of a dearth
So, with this short, we say goodbye to Mickey for a while.
he'll be back as good as ever later in the 80's and especially in the 90's,
better than ever and none the worse for wear.
Click on thumbnail for full size image
Submitted by eutychus