Brave Little Tailor is a 1938 American animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The cartoon is an adaptation of the fairy tale The Valiant Little Tailor with Mickey Mouse in the title role. The film was directed by Bill Roberts and features original music by Albert Hay Malotte. The voice cast includes Walt Disney as Mickey, Marcellite Garner as Minnie, and Eddie Holden as the Giant.
Brave Little Tailor was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 11th Academy Awards in 1939, but lost to Disney's own Ferdinand the Bull. In 1994 the film was chosen as the 26th greatest cartoon of all time by members of the animation field. The list was compiled in the book The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
Set during the Middle Ages in Europe, a king is seeking a brave warrior to kill a giant which has been terrorizing the small kingdom. There is much discussion in the village, but no one is willing to take on the task. Nearby in the same village, a young peasant tailor (Mickey Mouse) kills seven flies at once while at his work, and accidentally interjects several other peasants' discussion of the problems with the giant to brag loudly about his accomplishment:
Peasant (to his friends): "Say, did you ever kill a giant?"
Mickey (interjecting unwittingly): "I killed seven
(flies) with one blow!"
Gossip that Mickey has killed seven giants with one blow quickly spreads around the kingdom. The king summons Mickey, and asks if he really "killed seven at one blow". Mickey goes into an elaborate re-telling of how he killed the seven (flies, not giants as the king believes), which impresses the king enough to appoint Mickey "Royal High Killer of the Giant". Upon learning the misunderstanding, all of Mickey's confidence disappears and he attempts to stammer his way out of the assignment. The king offers Mickey both vast riches and the hand of his only daughter, Princess Minnie, in marriage if he can kill (or at least subdue) the giant. Smitten with the princess, Mickey proclaims that he'll "cut [the giant] down to my size", and sets off for the giant's lair.
After only a few minutes, however, he is ready to turn back and give up, but the townspeople and Minnie are counting on him. "Gosh," Mickey sighs to himself, wondering what to do. "I dunno how to catch a giant."
Just then, the evil giant appears, forcing Mickey to scramble for a place to hide while it crushes a mountain, a forest, and a house. The giant sits down on a barn and eats a cart of pumpkins (as if they were grapes), then a drink of water (using a water well as if it were a thermos) and a smoke (rolling a cigarette from a haystack Mickey was hiding in and lighting it with an oven in a nearby house after he pulls open its roof to get it) and leans on a silo to relax as Mickey briefly ended up in the giant's mouth but escaped. Mickey is caught in the giant's cigarette, and gives his hiding place away by accidentally sneezing. The angry giant attempts to squash the tailor, who quickly produces sewing thread and a needle and binds the giant's limbs. With needle and thread, Mickey swings about the giant, sewing him up and causing him to fall and knock himself out. The giant subdued, Mickey returns home and is hailed as a hero. An amusement park is built on the site of the battle (powered with wind power from the snoring giant). The short ends with the king and a newly married Mickey and Minnie enjoying a ride on the carousel.
From August 28 to November 27, 1938, Disney published 14 Sunday newspaper comics retelling the story under the title The Brave Little Tailor. This version was bookended by segments showing the "real" Mickey Mouse as an actor working for Walt Disney who casts him for the film. The comic has Mac MacCorker as the fictional director of the film. Goofy also appears in these scenes, and after the wrap he is wearing the same clothes he wore in the short film The Whalers which was released the month before Tailor. The story was written by Merrill De Maris and drawn by Manuel Gonzales and Floyd Gottfredson with inking by Ted Thwaites.
In 1985 Bantam Books published a children's book called Mickey Meets the Giant which featured Mickey encountering the same giant. This version was somewhat more faithful to the original fairy tale, maintaining that the tailor fools the giant by apparently beating him in feats of strength.The Disney version removes plot elements and themes from the folktale The Valiant Little Tailor, such as
Having one giant instead of two (who fight each other because of the Tailor's deception)
Portraying Mickey-as-Tailor as reluctant, while in the folktale, the Tailor gains confidence as he captures a unicorn's antler and captures a wild boar
Having Mickey-as-Tailor automatically accepted by the king upon subduing the giant, whereas in the folktale the Tailor has to prove he has risen above his formerly low social status by his deeds and self-confidence
This short was also featured along with A Knight for a Day on DVD releases of The Sword in the Stone.
The short also appeared in an episode of Sing Me a Story with Belle.
The giant was` animated by Vladmir "Bill" Tytla and is considered by animation enthusiasts (as well as critics and coworkers at the time) to be one of his greatest triumphs as a "personality specialist" animator. Before joining Disney in 1934, Tytla had previously animated giants on several occasions at Paul Terry's studios in New York City.
Brave Little Tailor was released on the Walt Disney Treasures line of Mickey Mouse in Living Color Vol 1.