Mickey Mouse Club Serials: The Boys of the Western Sea
This was a Danish-made film to which the Disney Studio acquired the North American rights. The studio then chopped the movie up into nine ten-minute segments and dubbed it into English, changing some of the storyline and character names in doing so. I have seen only one episode of this serial and so for the synopsis must rely in part on Bill Cotter's original research. Unfortunately, photos used to illustrate this page are all from one episode and of very poor quality.
Set in a small fishing village on the west coast of Denmark, seventeen year old Paul Brask is the natural leader of the village boys, but must learn to deal with the harsh reality of survival after his father is killed. Sole support for Else* and his younger sister and brother Bridget and Mads, Paul finds it hard to accept the role thrust upon him. Paul and Else battle over his irresponsibility, even as his moral compass is tested by repeated offers to join a smuggling operation. Complicating Paul's struggle is a group of strangers, led by Gordon and his father, who have come into the village and are competing with the local residents for a livlihood from the sea. With the help of city boy Frank Norman, Paul and his young friends must catch enough fish for their families to survive while battling the outsiders and a storm at sea.
* Its not entirely clear if this character is Paul's sister or mother
This was a Danish production from 1950 called Vesterhavsdrenge. The film ran 91 minutes in its original theatrical showing. The picture was made in Denmark, with a largely Danish crew and cast, and a story set near Nymindegab, Denmark, on the west coast of the Jutland peninsula. (For the Danes, what we call in English the North Sea is the Western Sea).
The chief cinematographer was an American, Arthur J. Ornitz, who later worked at the Disney Studio while the Mickey Mouse Club was in production. He apparently owned the North American rights to the film, which he had received in lieu of full salary while making it. Ornitz brought it to the attention of Bill Walsh, when the latter requested suggestions for films which could be bought cheaply and run as serials on the show.
The story is usually credited to a book called Klit-Per by Anders Christian Westergaard (1888-1951). Westergaard wrote a series of five Klit-Per books, from 1923 thru 1951. He also wrote a book called Vesterhavsdrenge: Fiskerliv ved Nymindegab in 1930. Wife and husband team Astrid Henning and Bjarne Jensen, who both adapted the screenplay and directed, seem to have drawn on several of these books for the film's story. They cast their young son Lars in the role of "Mads".
The original dialogue was freely adapted into English by Ray Darby, who wrote storylines for a number of the shorter educational serials. Perhaps the best change the Disney Studio made was to provide a theme song, composed by George Bruns with lyrics by Ray Darby. The original incidental music by Danish classical composer Herman D. Koppel (1908-1998) was retained in spots.
The situation facing Paul Brask, and his character as revealed in response to it, finds its closest Disney parallel with that of Rudi Matt (James MacArthur) in Third Man on the Mountain (1959). Both are dreamers longing for escape, to the high seas or the mountains, from the responsibilities of their mundane lives. Paul is a stronger and harsher character than Rudi Matt, with no hesitation about challenging his elders.
Cast credits are complicated by Disney renaming some of the characters, turning other uncredited extra parts into named parts, and using the same voice actors for multiple roles.
|Role (Disney Role)||       ||Film Actor||       ||Disney Voice Credit|
| ||       || ||       || |
|Per Brask (Paul)||       ||Kjeld Bentzen||       ||Richard Beymer|
|Else||       ||Anne Grete Hilding||       ||Mary Lee Hobb|
|Mads||       ||Lars Henning-Jensen||       ||Kevin Corcoran|
|Birgit (Bridget)||       ||Nette Høj Hansen||       ||Cheryl Holdridge|
|Jørgen (Gordon)||       ||Jens Konge Rasmussen||       ||Bob Ellis|
|Tine||       ||Bente Kaas Hvalsøe||       || |
|Værle (Carl)||       ||Preben Lerdorff Rye||       ||Paul Frees|
|Kræ Brejning (Brenner)||       ||Ejner Federspiel||       ||Billy Bletcher|
|Frederik (Frederick)||       ||Niels Jensen||       ||Parley Baer|
|"Pelikanen" (Pelican)||       ||Kai Holm||       ||Billy Bletcher|
|Sognefogeden (Sheriff)||       ||Karl Stegger||       ||Paul Frees|
|Mor Karen (Mother Karen)||       ||Marie Niedermann||       ||Gail Bonney|
|Købmand (Grocer)||       ||Poul Juhl||       ||Parley Baer|
|Formand (Foreman)||       ||Karl Jørgensen||       ||Herbert Vigran|
|Extra (Man)||       ||William Knoblauch||       ||Bob Jackman|
|Extra (Man)||       ||Valsø Holm||       ||Herbert Vigran|
|Extra (Man)||       ||Jørgen Kunz||       ||Billy Bletcher|
|Extra (Andy)||       ||?||       ||Tommy Kirk|
|Extra (Frank Norman)||       ||?||       ||David Stollery|
|Extra (Boy)||       ||?||       ||Bobby Burgess|
|Extra (Boy)||       ||?||       ||Tommy Cole|