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Saturday Matinee


February 16, 2019

Saturday Matinee #91: "Mickey's Steam Roller" (June 16, 1934)

Originally Published September 29, 2012

by Albert Gutierrez

Memory is not always comprised of what we actually remember, but what we want to remember. And sometimes, we'll fill in the gaps with what we believe to be the truth. Such a case happened this week, when I was deciding which short to view. I realized that in a few articles, I had mentioned - but not covered - a couple Donald Duck shorts that featured his nephews, Huey, Dewey, & Louie. Yet I hadn't covered any shorts featuring Mickey's nephews, Morty and Ferdy. So, off to I went to check out their filmography. To my surprise, even though this twosome is well-known, they're only credited for one short: "Mickey's Steam Roller."

Mickey Mouse's job for the day is driving a steam roller throughout town. Meanwhile, Minnie has taken out twins Morty and Ferdy for a ride in the perambulator. They recite "Pease Porridge Hot," a seemingly innocent activity, but one which prompts the two to start hitting each other. Minnie chastises them, and they make up. Soon, the group sees Mickey, and the boys beg to ride the "choo-choo" as they call it. Mickey pulls out some rope attached to an obscenely large hook, and hooks the boys. Minnie joins in the front on the actual roller with Mickey. The group have a fun time, until Mickey decides it's a perfect opportunity to romance Minnie. He gives her candy hearts, the first saying "I Love You" and the second "Kiss Me." Mickey obeys the second, but Minnie is coy and resists his advances.

However, the pair have jumped off the steam roller during their little love fest. This leads Morty and Ferdy to take control and go for a joy ride. Mickey and Minnie give chase, even though the boys clearly are having fun. At one point, Morty or Ferdy decide to hop the steam clouds coming from the roller. Mickey tries to catch them by tossing the rope once more to the obscenely large hook. Morty or Ferdy take a poker to burn the rope down, and runs across it before it runs out of slack. Eventually, the roller ends up chasing Mickey now, with Morty and Ferdy clearly having the time of their lives. Mickey's tail nearly gets caught in the roller, and the entire thing crashes into a hotel, collapsing it immediately - save for the piping. Mickey, Morty, and Ferdy emerge from the rubble, no worse for wear. In fact, with a plank balanced on Mickey's head, the boys begin to see-saw up and down, with Mickey simply looking on and smiling.

I was at a loss for why no other shorts featured Morty and Ferdy. After all, several shorts do include the generic mice orphans: "Gulliver Mickey," "Orphans' Benefit," and "Orphans' Picnic." A singular mouse orphan appears in "Mickey Plays Papa." They have a cameo appearance in the opening shot for "Boat Builders," but wouldn't appear again until "Mickey's Christmas Carol." Like their other cartoon appearances, they're never referred to by name, so even in the 1983 short, we don't know which one played Random Cratchit Kid and which one played Tiny Tim. So why did I strongly recall two characters who've featured in far less shorts than Huey, Dewey, & Louie? I was very certain I'd seen a short in which Mickey took the boys camping.

I soon realized that I wasn't remembering a short cartoon, but an old coloring book I loved as a child. For me, coloring books could only be used once. In my mind, if you colored a page, you couldn't uncolor it. You could try recoloring, but the end-result might look pretty bad. Thus, I was always careful about when I would actually color in the pages, and would spend more time looking through them, rather than coloring them. Over the years, my mind still remembered the story of Mickey and his nephews camping, but mistook coloring book for cartoon, hence my confusion. I realize I've probably wasted your time with this Saturday Matinee, then. After all, this isn't really a look at "Mickey's Steam Roller," but at how my memory cheated me.

Still, "Mickey's Steam Roller" has great moments. The romantic Mickey is always fun to watch, especially when he daringly attempts to kiss Minnie via the candy heart. Minnie ends up forgotten mid-short, as we shift to Mickey chasing and being chased by the Steam Roller. I think it would have been a stronger short if she appeared at the end, ready to chastise the boys once more. Mickey's approving "boys will be boys" smirk at the end seems out of character today, but appropriate for Black & White Mickey. Audiences, however, likely wouldn't agree. Mickey was becoming the good guy, and so condoning such behavior would not make him a good role model.

Morty and Ferdy's behavior is amusing, but seems more at home in a Donald vs. Huey, Dewey, & Louie short. At the time, Donald was still just a supporting player, having just been created that year - 1934 - and not getting his own series for another three yeras. The triplets wouldn't appear in cartoons until a year later, although they were introduced in the comic strips in 1937. The animators probably looked at Morty and Ferdy as a one-off in the cartoons, since they ended up having a healthy career appearing in Disney's comic strips. The comics are where several other of the "junior" characters spent most of their time as well: Huey, Dewey, & Louie (junior Donald), April, May, & June (junior Daisy), Millie & Melody (junior Minnie), and Pierino & Pieretto (junior Pete).

"Mickey's Steam Roller" is available on two DVDs. It first saw release in 2004's "Mickey Mouse in Black & White, Volume Two." A year later, it was one of nine shorts included in "Vintage Mickey," a compilation of some of his popular black and white shorts.




Past Saturday Matinees

Mickey Mouse
     - The Band Concert (1935)
     - Birthday Party, The (1931)
     - Boat Builders (1938)
     - Brave Little Tailor (1938)
     - Building a Building (1933)
     - Clock Cleaners (1937)
     - Croissant De Triomphe (2013)
     - Get a Horse (2013)
     - Hawaiian Holiday (1937)
     - The Jazz Fool (1929)
     - Lonesome Ghosts (1937)

     - Mad Doctor, The (1933)
     - Magician Mickey (1937)
     - Mickey and the Goat Man (2002)
     - Mickey Down Under (1948)
     - Mickey's Delayed Date (1947)
     - Mickey's Steam Roller (1934)
     - Mickey's Trailer (1938)

     - No Service (2013)
     - Orphan's Benefit (1934 and 1941)
     - Shanghaied (1934)
     - Steamboat Willie (1928)
     - Steamboat Willie Revisited (1928)
     - Thru the Mirror (1936)
     - Ye Olden Days (1933)
     - Yodelberg (2013)

Donald Duck
     - Beezy Bear (1955)
     - Chips Ahoy! (1956)
     - Donald's Diary (1954)
     - Double Date Don (2001)
     - Grand CanyonScope (1954)
     - How to Have an Accident in the Home (1956)

     - Lighthouse Keeping (1946)
     - Modern Inventions (1937)
     - Mr. Duck Steps Out (1940)
     - No Hunting (1955)
     - Sea Salts (1949)

     - Goofy and Wilbur (1939)
     - Hello Aloha (1952)
     - A Knight for a Day (1946)

Chip 'n' Dale
     - Chips Ahoy! (1956)
     - Corn Chips (1951)
     - Out of Scale (1951)

Humphrey the Bear
     - Bearly Asleep (1955)
     - Beezy Bear (1955)
     - Hooked Bear (1956)
     - In the Bag (1956)

     - All Wet (1927)
     - The Fox Chase (1928)
     - The Mechanical Cow (1927)
     - The Ocean Hop (1927)
     - Ozzie of the Mounted (1928)
     - Trolley Troubles (1927)

Alice Comedies
     - Alice's Wonderland (1923)

     - Adventures in Music: Melody (1953)
     - All the Cats Join In (1946)
     - Ben and Me (1953)
     - Bueno Nacho (2002)
     - A Cowboy Needs a Horse (1956)
     - Daisy's Road Trip (1999)

     - Disneyland Showtime (1970)
     - Disney's Electric Holiday (2012)
     - Epcot Film (1966)
     - Evolution of the Dunk the Mayor scene (1965-2006)
     - Feast (2014)
     - Figaro and Cleo (1943)
     - The Flying Mouse (1934)
     - Football Now and Then (1953)
     - General Hospital - The Introduction of Lucky Spencer (1993)

     - Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (1964)
     - Grievance of a Starmaker (2002)
     - The Hardy Boys: The Stranger (1956)
     - John Henry (2000)
     - The Little Matchgirl (2006)
     - Max's New Car (2001)

     - Mickey and the Firefighter (1993/2002)
     - Muppet Mayhem: Baseball
     - Muppet Mayhem: Clapboard
     - Muppet Mayhem: Soap
    - My Heart Was an Island (1960)
     - Oliver and Company VHS Preview
     - Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Firing Lane (1942)

     - Paperman (2012)
     - Scrooge McDuck and Money (1967)
     - Seven Wise Dwarfs (1941)
     - Snow White World Premiere Newsreel (1937)
     - Tangled Ever After (2012)
     - Three Notable Disney Commercials (circa 1950s and 2002)
     - Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom (1953)
     - Tummy Trouble (1989)
     - Victory Through Rocket Power (1991)

     - War Shorts (1941-1945)
     - Welcome to the Future

Pixar Shorts
     - Geri's Game (1997)
     - Jack-Jack Attack (2005)
     - La Luna (2012)
     - Toy Story Treats (circa 1996)

Silly Symphonies
     - Father Noah's Ark (1933)
     - Music Land (1935)
     - Peculiar Penguins (1934)
     - The Skeleton Dance (1929)
     - Three Little Pigs (1933)
     - Tortoise and the Hare (1934)

     - 100th Week Retrospective
     - Animation Sequence Analysis: Beauty and the Beast
     - Animation Sequence Analysis: Robin Hood
     - Animation Sequence Analysis: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
     - Animation Sequence Analysis: Sword in the Stone

     - As the World Turns and Disney
     - Beauty and the Beast: A Look at three versions of the story
     - Beauty and the Beast: Theatrical Reviews Trailer
     - Beauty and the Beast TV Spots
     - Bedknobs and Broomsticks
     - Casablanca scene of The Great Movie Ride
     - Happy Holidays from Saturday Matinee!

     - Cinderella vs. Cinderella III
     - Colors of the Wind Multi-Language Reel
     - Comparing Three versions of Alice in Wonderland
     - Deleted Disney
     - Disney Classics: Timeless Classics
     - Disney Classics: Modern Classics
     - Disney Classics: Television Classics

     - Disney Family Movie Night - Summer in June
     - Disney Studio Album: 1960
     - Frozen Review
     - Golden Girls go to Walt Disney World
     - Golden Girls Pilot Episode
     - Great Movie Ride Week One: Mary Poppins

     - Great Movie Ride Week Two: Singin' In the Rain
     - Great Movie Ride Week Three: Raiders of the Lost Ark
     - Great Movie Ride Week Four: The Searchers
     - Great Movie Ride Week Five: Alien
     - Great Movie Ride Week Six: Footlight Parade

     - Great Movie Ride Week Seven: Wizard of Oz/Fantasia
     - Great Movie Ride Week Eight: Casablanca
     - Heffalumps and Woozles vs. Pink Elephants on Parade
     - "It" Moments
     - Life Comes to Fantasy
     - Lion King Bloopers and Stand by Me

     - Live Action Character References
     - Muppets through Films
     - The Newsies' Santa Fe
     - Peter Pan's deleted song, "Neverland"
     - Remembering Steve Jobs
     - Saving Mr. Banks Review
     - Sleeping Beauty Backgrounds

     - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' first trailer
     - Song Showcase: Three Essential songs in Pete's Dragon
     - Spaceship Earth video
     - Spot Marks the X (1986)
     - Special Song Showcase: Disney's Greatest Love Songs

     - Step in Time from Mary Poppins on Broadway
     - Thor: The Dark World Review
     - VHS Deluxe Collectors Sets for Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin
     - Walt's Sweetheart Team - Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten
     - The Watcher in the Woods
     - A Whole New World Recording Session

Winnie the Pooh
     - Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966)


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