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As a lifelong Disney fan I can’t understate how much of an impact Mickey Mouse has had on me. In childhood, he was an icon and friend – instantly recognizable, a source of joy and entertainment, a hero and a role model. I know this is making me sound like one of those cheesy sponsors reading off a cue card, but when you’re talking about a mouse, expect plenty of cheese to be involved.
In the spirit of Mickey celebrating his 90th birthday, I’d like to share with you my 20 favorite shorts he starred in. Why 20? Because I couldn’t narrow it down to ten and I like to go nine steps beyond as opposed to one.
There were only two rules I set while making this list:
- Mickey is the main focus, or at the very least he must be given as much to do as the other characters he shares the cartoon with. There’s a lot of great shorts out there that has Mickey’s name in the title – Mickey’s Parrot, Mickey’s Circus, Mickey’s Birthday, Mickey and the Seal, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, etc. – or has his face in the intro that advertises it as his adventure, but upon watching you find they’re really about Donald, Goofy or Pluto or literally anyone else but him.
- Shorts only, no segments from full-length films or direct-to-video works. This means no Mickey and the Beanstalk from Fun and Fancy Free or various bits from Mickey’s Once/Twice Upon A Christmas, but sadly no Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Fantasia. I thought of excluding any short that ran over the usual length of five to seven minutes to about twenty, but that made my job even harder.
Now before we get to the countdown, here are a few Honorable Mentions:
- Mickey, Donald and Goofy in The Three Musketeers – If I were including full-length films on the list, this would be in the top five, bar none.
- The Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Fantasia – It would easily take the number one spot if it didn’t overlap with the #2 rule.
- Plane Crazy – The mouse’s first appearance on the silver screen, though he wouldn’t make as quite a splash until his sound debut in Steamboat Willie a few years later
- Orphan’s Benefit – One of my favorites as a kid. It made me laugh something fierce and still does, though a large part of it has to do with Donald and Goofy’s segments, hence why it’s only an honorable mention. Also, did you know that the color one we’re mostly familiar with is actually a remake of an earlier black and white version?
- Mickey’s Delayed Date – Pluto and Mickey tussle for attention in this outing.
- Haunted House – Spooky and atmospheric. Classic Disney nightmare fuel.
- The Gorilla Mystery – Mickey plays Minnie’s white knight yet again as he goes to-to-toe with a dangerous gorilla.
- Two-Gun Mickey – An American Tail: Mickey Goes West.
- Mickey’s Surprise Party – After Minnie’s dog spoils the cookies she was making for Mickey, he saves the day with some shockingly transparent corporate sponsorship. At least I take comfort in the fact that Mickey’s favorite cookies are the same as mine.
- Hansel and Gretel – Mickey and Minnie stumble upon a treacherous witch to the ominous strains of Danse Macabre.
- Mickey’s Cabin – Mickey outwits Pete and his dimwitted cousin with a little reverse psychology when they hold him hostage in his winter cabin. Hilarity ensues.
- Croissant – Mickey’s first short in the modern style proved you can’t keep a mouse on a mission down.
- Yodelberg – Continuing with the previous short, it’s modern Mickey at its most fast-paced and stylish fun.
- Shanghaied – It’s up to Mickey to save the day and Minnie again, this time from Pete and his dastardly crew of pirates.
- Mickey’s Christmas Carol – Mickey’s first cartoon in 30 years has him slightly out of the spotlight, but still got him back in the public eye for good.