Saturday, November 17, 2012

Casting “Island in the Sky”.

We’ve gotten so much great reaction to our recent post on Floyd Gottfredson's 1936-1937 Mickey Mouse comic strip epic Island in the Sky”, that we’ll do what we typically do at TIAH Blog… and that is “do more”! 

All writers have unused (or partially used) material sitting around, waiting for a place to use it.  Here’s one of mine that I thought appropriately applicable to “Island in the Sky”. 

"Upon viewing James Cagney's 1933 film "Picture Snatcher" (link HERE), where Cagney wrangles a job as a daring newspaper photog, I could not help but compare the character traits of Cagney (in a picture like this - where he is driven, but not overtly "bad") to Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse of the 1930!

“They are both determined little guys who not only succeed at – but often revolutionize – their respective endeavors.  Consider the converse, if Cagney were to be cast as the lead in “Editor-in-Grief” (aka “Mickey Mouse Runs His Own Newspaper”), as a prime example of this. 

“Donald Duck comic book legend Carl Barks has admitted to being influenced by that which he saw in the movies.  So, it is certainly not a large leap to assume that, in the ‘30s, Gottfredson could have been similarly influenced by Cagney in films like this!   
...Who? ME?
"For all we know, the screen persona of James Cagney could have been a catalyst in expanding the comics’ Mickey’s character well beyond that of the animated shorts.  I’ll bet Mickey could get some pretty nifty newspaper pictures too!”

My reason for resurrecting this from the depths of my scrap pile is that, upon reading Island in the Sky” once again in Fantagraphics’  Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse: House of the Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson” (Volume 4) is that, for the first time, it occurred to me just how fine a casting choice Cagney would have been for such a story! 
You Dirty Air-Pirate Rat!

Cagney was very much in his prime at the time “Island in the Sky” saw print – and would later play a brash and daring bush pilot /flyboy, full of that special “moxie” he and Mickey shared in 1942’s “Captains of the Clouds  -- making him the ideal human casting choice to take a small plane up to that mysterious floating island! 

Lemme at that Island!  I'll show 'em!

Of course, speaking of “brash and daring”, it might also have been marvelous to behold “Island in the Sky” as a vehicle for Humphrey Bogart! 

"Hold it, youse (Ein) Mugs!"
They wouldn't pester you if BOGIE were around, Doc!

…Though Bogart’s film debut, in “The Petrified Forest” (1936), occurred *AS* “Island in the Sky” unfolded, so Bogie might have showed-up just a bit late for his screen persona to have been in any way an influence on this Gottfredson classic.   

Either Cagney or Bogart would have been fun to see, though!  Especially as iconic tough and scrappy adventurers of the period during which the story occurs – just like Gottfredson’s Mouse!   …What say you? 

Now, who should play GOOFY's part?  Red Skelton?

...Finally, how about Sydney Greenstreet as a more sophisticated version of PETE! 

Yup!  I can see DAT, all right!  ...Handsome devil!


Joe Torcivia said...

Our friend and regular contributor “Anonymous”, whose comments grace many a post at this Blog, left the following comment – which I may have inadvertently deleted, instead of published:

“How about Cagney as Mickey, Huntz Hall as Goofy, Victor McLaglen as Chief O' Hara, and Wallace Beery as Pete?”

I think that is a PERFECT casting! Particularly Victor McLaglen as Chief O' Hara!

Thankfully, I am able to reproduce the comment from my e-mail, and my apologies to Anon for my early-morning, pre-coffee mistake!

Chris Barat said...


Who would portray Dr. Einmug and Captain Doberman?

How about Walter Slezak as the former and Robert Montgomery as the latter?


Joe Torcivia said...

I like ‘em both, Chris! …Especially Slezak.

Between you and Anon, we might have the perfect Einmug and Chief O’Hara! Indeed, I may never again look at Victor McLaglen and not think of Chief O’Hara! …And vice-versa!

Though, I always kinda saw David Hedison as Doberman since first reading (what was then) “Mickey Mouse and his Sky Adventure” in the first Gold Key reprint, during the actual run of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. I *WAS* an impressionable youth back then, you know…

Chris Barat said...


Hedison would work for Doberman, too. I was simply trying to stick to the "classic movie era" candidates.


Joe Torcivia said...

Agreed again, Chris! By those criteria, Montgomery wins. But that’s what comes of first reading the story in 1965, I suppose!