“Steamboat Willie” is often incorrectly referred to as the first Disney short. It’s not even the first animated film with Mickey Mouse — the silent “Plane Crazy” was screen-tested for audiences a good six months before “Steamboat” (now with sound!) was released on Nov. 18, 1928. Besides, Walt Disney had been directing shorts since the early 1920s, from his “Laugh-O-Grams” series to the “Alice Comedies” of 1923 to 1927. From there, Disney and Ub Iwerks began working on films featuring the proto-Mickey, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
He’s the star of the “Sleigh Bells” that Demi Lovato didn’t allegedly rip off. The six-minute film (released July 23, 1928) was lost, “unseen since its original release,” according to BFI, but it was recently rediscovered by a researcher “browsing the online catalogue of the BFI National Archive’s holdings.”
BFI head curator Robin Baker said:
“What a joyful treat to discover a long-lost Walt Disney film in the BFI National Archive and to be able to show ‘Sleigh Bells’ to a whole new audience 87 years after it was made. The restoration of this film will introduce many audiences to Disney’s work in the silent period – it clearly demonstrates the vitality and imagination of his animation at a key point in his early career.”
“Sleigh Bells” will be screened in London as part of the “It’s a Disney Christmas: Seasonal Shorts” program.
Al Michaels will probably not be in attendance.