Mouseplanet

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"I think it is high time all these things got straightened out in the public mind. Walternative text Disney has gotten hold of all the facts in the case. Mr. Disney has always been very decent to us mice." — Amos Mouse (as voiced by Sterling Holloway) in the trailer for Ben và Me

"The story of a mouse that lived in Ben Franklin"s hat." — Walt Disney in his introduction lớn The Liberty Story (1957)

One of my favorite Disney animated cartoons is especially appropriate for The Fourth of July. The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. I love sầu the sense of patriotism, the hot dogs, watermelon, the homemade lemonade, and the picnic celebrations with fireworks.

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Of course, since I live about a half hour from the Magic Kingdom, I could probably enjoy the same thrill just about every day of the year, especially with a visit lớn Liberty Square.

With July 4th being next week, I thought it would be fun to focus on one of the many films Walternative text did that related to lớn the birth of the United States of America.

When I was younger, I saw a rerun on the weekly Disneyland television show called The Liberty Story, which originally aired on May 5, 1957. It was basically a promotion for the release of the live-action Johnny Tremain film that year. However, Walternative text also spent time enthusiastically showing the concept art for the announced, but never built, Liberty Street at Disneyland.

In addition, during his introduction, Walt walked over to lớn his magical bookcase in the soundstage mix that mimicked his real formal office. However, this time there was a smaller bookshelf extension attached khổng lồ one of the shelves that had never previously appeared or would ever again.

Walternative text explained that these books had been located in a church basement when it was being torn down và since the books seem lớn have sầu been written by a mouse, that it was natural that they sover the books to lớn Walt.

Walternative text even showed an old newspaper describing the finding of the books. My eyes were wide with amazement (remember I was pretty young và gullible then, và now I am just gullible) that this must be true, because Walternative text was telling me the story và right there on television were the books themselves.

It never occurred to lớn me that it was just a clever introduction khổng lồ Ben and Me, an animated special short released theatrically November 10, 1953, that I had never seen before because, in those prehistoric times, there were no đoạn phim recorders. The only chance to see a cartoon short was if it were released theatrically or aired on television.

Based on the popular 1939 book by Robert Lawson, Ben và Me tells the "true" story of the inventive churchmouse who was actually the brains behind Benjamin Franklin and his many accomplishments.

Amos Mouse and his cleverness and common sense helps inspire such innovations as bifocals, Franklin"s "Poor Richard"s Almanac," the Franklin Stove sầu & the Declaration of Independence & much more.

Of course, his participation in Franklin" s experiments with electrithành phố has tragic results that thankfully gets resolved in time to help the United States get born. In real life, it was Franklin"s 20-year-old son William who assisted with the experiment.

Walt Disney purchased the rights khổng lồ the book in 1946 and by 1947 rough storyboards had been prepared.

Ben & Me was originally released on November 10, 1953. It was issued as part of a package that included the live-action 72-minute-long True-Life Adventures feature The Living Desert.

In fact, Buena Vista Pictures was created by Walternative text Disney Productions khổng lồ release this particular theatrical program, after RKO, who had released Disney films since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, balked at releasing a full-length True Life Adventure film (just as it had a few years earlier at releasing True Life Adventures shorts).

The package was first booked into lớn the Sutton Theater in New York and was an immediate success. It was then released in the same manner throughout the country &, proportionately, became the biggest profit-maker in Disney history up to that time, earning $4 million after a total production cost of $300,000.

Ben và Me was made in Technicolor và ran 21 minutes (it has been released at a length of 25 minutes with additional animation done for the television presentation) & was considered the first Disney animated featurette (two reels), since it was shorter than a regular feature, but almost three times as long as the usual Disney short cartoon.

Walternative text felt that an animated featurette could be paired with a live-action feature khổng lồ make a complete program of Disney entertainment. Some stories were too long for the standard short, but not sufficient to lớn maintain a feature, so a featurette could piông chồng up the slachồng.

Ben and Me was nominated for an Academy Award in the two reel short subject division. The winner for two-reel short subject that year was Disney"s True-Life Adventure Bear Country. The winner for one reel short subject was Disney"s Toot, Whistle, Plunk và Boom, which was also competing against another Disney nominated cartoon: Rugged Bear.

The inspiration for the featurette was the original book Ben & Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin that was published in 1939. It was written và illustrated by Robert Lawson. Lawson was also the illustrator of Munro Leaf"s Ferdinand the Bull that Disney had made inkhổng lồ an Osoto winning short cartoon in 1938.

Lawson also wrote Mr. Revere và I (1953) about Paul Revere"s horse, the mare Sheherazade, saved from the glue factory by Sam Adams. She và Paul Revere supposedly make the ride that changed the course of history.

"I have never, as far as I can rethành viên, given one moment"s thought as khổng lồ whether any drawing that I was doing was for adults or children," Lawson said. "I have never changed one conception or line or detail to suit the supposed age of the reader.

"And I have never, in what writing I have sầu done, changed one word or phrase of text because I felt it might be over the heads of children. I have never, I hope, Insulted the intelligence of any child. And with God and my publishers willing, I promise them that I never will," he said.

It was a philosophy that echoed Walternative text Disney"s own philosophy about family entertainment.

After he illustrated Mr. Popper"s Penguins (1938), publisher Little, Brown and Company asked Lawson khổng lồ illustrate another book và to suggest a subject that would interest hlặng. He wrote an outline of Ben and Me & sent it off to lớn the publishing house. They immediately wrote bachồng that while they liked the concept, they could not possibly think of any author who could vày justice to the odd story, và Lawson would have sầu khổng lồ do it himself.

The publication of Ben và Me in 1939 demonstrated his ability lớn write as well as to illustrate. Lawson has been awarded both the Caldecott và Newbery Medals. The Lawsons" home, called "Rabbit Hill,"was the original setting for the book by that name written and illustrated by Lawson. Robert Lawson died at Rabbit Hill, Westport, Connecticut, in 1957, so he did get khổng lồ see the animated version of Ben & Me delight audiences in theaters.

Famed Disney storyman Bill Peet did the primary adaptation with additional dialogue supplied by Winston Hibler, Del Connell, and Ted Sears. The adaptation kept fairly cthua trận khổng lồ the source material, but added some scenes & humor that helped expand & focus the story.

One significant change is that in an early chapter in the book, in order khổng lồ get the assistance và advice of Amos, Franklin must agree to provide Amos" large family with cheese, rye bread, & wheat on a regular basis.

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The DELL comic book version of the Ben & Me featurette was released in 1954.

Peet changes it into lớn a contract near the kết thúc of the film that will give the mouse respect và not be subject lớn experimentation & humiliation. The contract, as written by Amos, inspires Thomas Jefferson to lớn write the Declaration of Independence using the exact same words.

Perhaps the most interesting difference is that in the Lawson book, the wording that inspired the Declaration was the work of a mouse named "Red" who rode in Jefferson"s saddlebag. He is so revolutionary that he seeks lớn organize the mice và rats in France (who get distracted by food, so the revolution fails).

However, in the 1950s during the Red Scare of Communism having a radical mouse by that name was probably not advisable, so he does not appear in the Disney film at all.

The film was directed by Hamilton Luske. Luske had joined the Disney Studio in 1931 as an inbetweener và became an animator in 1934 on the Silly Symphonies.

At the time Ben and Me was made, he was a sequence director on the animated feature film Peter Pan and was moving inkhổng lồ being a sequence director on the animated feature Lady and the Tramp.

Luske was considered a prestigious director at the Disney Studio at the time, so it gives some indication of how important this animated special was considered. Luske"s directorial assistant on Ben & Me was Rusty Jones.

Animators who worked on the film included Wolfgang Reitherman, Ollie Johnston, John Lounsbery, Hal King, Cliff Nordberg, Les Clark, Marvin Woodward, Don Lusk, Hugh Fraser, Jerry Hathcoông chồng, Eric Cleworth, Harvey Toombs, Hal Ambro, Merle Gilson, Milt Kahl, Eric Larson, Bob McCrea, & Art Stevens.

Dan McManus did some effects animation và art direction was by Ken Anderson and Claude Coats. Backgrounds were by Al Dempster, Thelma Witmer, and Diông xã Anthony. Oliver Wallace did the music.

Sterling Holloway is the only voice credited on the film. According to lớn Disney Archivist Dave sầu Smith, Holloway, Hans Conried, Bill Thompson, Charlie Ruggles, & Srã Freberg were all in to lớn record voices for the film during January 1952, but the files bởi not specify which roles they recorded.

However, their voices are so distinctive, it is easy to tell that Holloway did the voice of Amos Mouse who narrated the story; Charlie Ruggles was a genial Ben Franklin; Hans Conried (who had just finishing voicing Captain Hook for Peter Pan) was a fiery Thomas Jefferson; Bill Thompson (who had just finishing voicing Mr. Smee for Peter Pan); was the guide at the beginning of the featurette as well as Governor Keith & some bit roles; & the talented Stung Freberg filled in some miscellaneous parts. as well.

Charles "Charlie" Ruggles was one of the most popular comedy character actors of the 1930s & 1940s. Usually playing a henpecked husb& or a genial, eccentric character, he appeared in about 80 movies including the well-known Ruggles of Red Gap in 1935.

While he was recording the voice of Ben Franklin, he was appearing on his television show, The Ruggles (1949-1952). The show featured Margaret Kerry as his teenaged daughter. At this time, Kerry had just recently done live action reference modeling for the role of Tinker Bell in Peter Pan.

Years later, Ruggles appeared in several live-action Disney films, including The Parent Trap (1961), Son of Flubber (1963), The Ugly Dachshund (1966) and Follow Me Boys (1966).

Although Sterling Holloway"s first Disney work was as the messenger stork in Dumbo (1941), Walternative text Disney was apparently aware of Holloway"s work on radio since—in a memo dated August 9, 1934—he recommended Holloway as the voice of Sleepy in Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs (1937). The part eventually went to Pinto Colvig.

Despite his many memorable voices for Disney characters, including Kaa the Snake, the Cheshire Cat & Winnie the Pooh, Holloway only voiced one other mouse: Roquefort the gentle mouse in The Aristocats (1970). Holloway is also known to lớn Disney fans as a narrator of Disney cartoons like Peter and the Wolf. His first narration for Disney was as "Professor Holloway" in The Three Caballeros (1945) telling the story of "Pablo the Cold-Blooded Penguin."

Years later (after I had wised-up that Amos và his books didn"t exist & weren"t an unsolved mystery), I did discover that new animation written by Peet & directed by Luske had been added lớn The Liberty Story presentation on television.

You can tell that the new animation was done quickly & less expensively, và it barely blends with the lusher animation of the animated featurette. For instance, take a look at the original animation where Amos is writing the word "binding" on a contract and his tail mimics the letters. That type of small detail is not evident in the new limited animation.

The new animation, not based on anything in Lawson"s book, is a prologue about the plight of the ancestors of Amos. In 1568, Christopher Mouse seeks refuge in the cellar of a London bakery in Fleet Street only khổng lồ be denied access to a split open saông xã of flour by a fat, blaông chồng cát (re-using animation of the cát Lucifer from Cinderella).

Jason Mouse, "the first real champion of the rights of mice," is in 1620 London where mice are actually "threatened by a mouse shortage" because of the alarming number of cats. Jason prepares a petition demanding all cats be caged, but it is ignored. Jason takes his family aboard a ship to the New World.

"Jason soon learned that the passengers, men & mice, were all in the same boat. They were all fleeing from the persecution và tyranny of the old country. The name of their good ship was the Mayflower." However, one of the Pilgrims has brought along his hungry mèo, so mice are still threatened và not truly không tính phí.

Amos obviously has a family history of radicalism và is eager lớn become involved in the revolution against British tyranny. Amos & his family live in an old New Engl& church vestry, Christ Church in Philadelphia, behind the paneling.

This delightful cartoon was first released on VHS under the Walt Disney Mini Classics label in 1989 and was later released on DVD as a short film in the "Disney Rarities" volume of the Walternative text Disney Treasures collection in 2005, and on Walternative text Disney"s Timeless Tales DVD in 2006. It was shown on the Disney Channel.

For an obscure character in a Disney animated featurette, Amos the Mouse has appeared on quite a number of pieces of merchandise.

To help promote Disney"s first featurette, a DELL comic book (Four màu sắc No. 539 illustrated by Al Hubbard released in 1954) và a Sunday comic strip version of the film were released. The Sunday comic strip version was written by Frank Reilly, penciled by Manuel Gonzales, & inked by Diông chồng Moores, as most of the cartoon adaptations in the Walt Disney"s Treasury of Classic Tales were. It ran every Sunday in color in newspapers from November 1, 1953 through December 27, 1953.

In addition, a Little Golden Book storybook (adapted by Campbell Grant & originally numbered "D-37" in the Simon & Schuster edition), a Cozy Corner Book (adapted by Earl Klein và released by Whitman Publishing in 1954 as well), and a recording of the Ben and Me theme, "You và Me," by composer Oliver Wallace were offered khổng lồ eager audiences.

In 2003, Amos was issued as a 5-inch tall porcelain limited-edition figure in the Walternative text Disney Classics Collection. Included was a pin of Amos waving a flag.

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This "true mouse" version of the American Revolution remains an entertaining glimpse of the obvious "suppressed historical truth" of the situation. Apparently, when it came lớn the birth of the United States, it did indeed all start with a mouse.