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Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: November 12, 1932
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating: ★★½

Still from 'The Wayward Canary' featuring two canaries and a charicature of Douglas FairbanksThe Wayward Canary’ follows the same story line as ‘The Barnyard Broadcast‘ (1931) and ‘Mickey’s Revue‘ (1932). Like in these films, a song-and-dance routine is interrupted by numerous animals causing havoc.

This time, Mickey gives Minnie a canary for a present. It appears to have numerous offspring. These little birds escape and fly all over the house. Before they’re all caught, the complete house is wrecked.

Among the numerous gags there’s a surreal one when Pluto and a cat run through a wringer, which renders them flat. By 1932 such extreme body deformities had become extremely rare in Disney cartoons, and soon they would vanish altogether, as they were not in tune with Disney’s search for the ‘plausible impossible’. It was up to Tex Avery at Warner Brothers to revive gags like these in the late 1930s.

Among Minnie’s household there is a lighter with a swastika on it [update: see animation historian David Gerstein’s comment below for an explanation]. She also has signed portraits of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Together with Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, these two actors were the co-founders of United Artists, the company Disney had joined in 1932.

These portraits are the first caricatures of real people in a Mickey Mouse film. Although Mickey and Minnie were only slowly shedding their barnyard background, these signed portraits are not too surprising accessories, considering Mickey’s enormous popularity in the early 1930s. Moreover, they suggest that Mickey and Minnie, although being cartoon characters, live in the real world, among other Hollywood stars. This concept would be developed further in the next year, in the superb ‘Mickey’s Gala Premier‘.

Watch ‘The Wayward Canary’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 48
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: Touchdown Mickey
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Klondike Kid

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