Poster

Orphan's Benefit

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : August 22, 1941

Running Time : 9:13

Synopsis

An ensemble performance emceed by Mickey includes piano playing, an adagio dance, an operatic number, and numerous attempts by Donald Duck to recite "Little Boy Blue."

Characters

Mickey Mouse
Clarabelle Cow
Horace Horsecollar
Goofy
Clara Cluck
Orphans
Donald Duck

Credits

Director
Riley Thompson
Animation
Jim Armstrong
Ed Love
Sam Cobean
Bill Dunham
Norm Ferguson
Arthur Elliot

Video

United States
Here's Mickey
Germany
Donalds Größte Hits
Donald Geht in die Luft
France
Le Meilleur de Donald
Italy
Topolino Lupo di Mare
I Capolavori di Paperino

Laserdiscs

United States
Here's Mickey / Here's Pluto
Japan
Donald's Greatest Hits

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : Wave 3 : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 2)
Classic Cartoon Favorites : Volume 6 : Extreme Music Fun
Germany
Musik Spass Superstars
Disney Treasures : Wave 3 : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 2)
Donalds Spassfabrik
France
Walt Disney's Rigolons avec Donald
Italy
Disney Treasures : Wave 3 : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 2)
Canada
Classic Cartoon Favorites : Volume 6 : Extreme Music Fun
Sweden
Disney Treasures : Wave 3 : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 2)
United Kingdom
Disney Treasures : Wave 3 : Mickey Mouse in Living Color (Volume 2)
Walt Disney's Laugh Factory with Donald

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 10: Mickey, Donald and Goofy : Friends to the End

Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.

Comments

  • This recreation was traced exactly from the 1934 original, but with the character models updated.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Today’s review will be pretty short, because the next short Disney released in 1941 was a shot for shot remake. Remember Orphan’s Benefit, the black and white short where Mickey entertained a crew of orphans in a large theatre? Well, this is the same thing, only in color, and featuring updated character designs for Mickey and his friends.

No, I don’t mean that they took the same premise and redid the short. No, it’s the same backgrounds, and most of the same animation, with updated designs for the main characters of Mickey, Donald and Goofy. They look like their 1941 selves instead of their 1934 versions. You can see some of the differences in the pictures.

So, my original review still stands on the short. It’s funny and a nice bit with each of the characters. What’s more interesting is why Disney ended up doing this. It’s not like reusing animation was something new, but the question is why now?

While I’m not qualified to speak to the specifics, you have to figure it had something to do with the strike. This short was release in August of 1941, after the animators’ strike had crippled the studio for a while. The assumption would be that Disney had to get material ready quickly, while also finishing work on Dumbo.

I would assume that was the biggest part of the issue, however, it might not be all of it. Remember as well that during this time in 1941, Walt was leading a group of artists on the tour of South America. So if you combine that with the issues after the strike, you can see where a group of animators might try to find the quickest way possible to turn out some shorts.

It’s interesting to me, of course, because of the “Walt Didn’t Do Sequels” crowd. Not only did he do sequels (more Three Little Pigs shorts), he did remakes. Whether Walt himself oversaw this short, I doubt, but it came out with his name on it. I think Walt did what he needed to do and tried to do it very well, and saying more than that is drawing assumptions.


From David Gerstein at Ramapith : Hey, the story behind the "Orphan's Benefit" remake is more complicated than you'd ever believe. But I know why it was done—and it had nothing to do with the strike.

I wrote the backstory out for a comment on the Electronic Cerebrectomy blog a couple of years ago. Why not just reprint it here:

On June 27, 1939, Walt, Thomson and Dave Hand screened nineteen early Mickey cartoons. The plan was to compile the best scenes from the shorts into a two-reel clip show for Mickey’s upcoming twelfth anniversary. "Mickey's Revival Party" (as it was to have been called) would have opened with Mickey’s gang arriving at a studio cinema. As the vintage scenes unreeled on a “screen within a screen,” Mickey and friends in the audience would react in various comic ways.

There were only two problems with this. The elaborate manner in which the vintage scenes were to be reused precluded simply lifting them from old negatives and splicing them together. They would have to be reinked onto cels from the original animation drawings; repainted, retimed, and refilmed.

Another hindrance was that the old cartoons excerpted had to be from summer 1935 or earlier. Anything more recent might still be in release. This meant that there were very few color cartoons to include in the retrospective.

Walt decided to kill two birds with one stone. As the excerpted shorts were all to be reinked and repainted anyway, he decided to repaint some in color that had originally been in black and white: Orphan's Benefit among them. Walt also saw an opportunity to retouch and improve the color in The Band Concert, the one short in the show that was originally in color. Story meeting transcripts reveal Walt repeatedly suggesting that remaking or upgrading older shorts could be an ongoing program, independent of "Revival Party."

That's what ended up happening. "Revival Party" director Riley Thomson completed a cutting continuity for use in preparing the excerpts; but for some reason, the clip show format ended up on the shelf. Instead, Thomson moved forward with remaking earlier cartoons in full-length, standalone form. Orphan's Benefit came first. Then came Mickey's Man Friday, four early color Silly Symphony shorts, and On Ice.

But then the bottom dropped out. Orphan's Benefit ended up the only exact Disney remake ever completed. Mickey's Man Friday was shut down partway through animation; you can still see model sheets at various online animation galleries for what the updated models were going to look like.

The other remakes were shut down before animation. Dunno why.


From Tom Wilkins : I have never seen the 1934 version, but Walt Disney probably pulls out one of the weirdest soundtracks in cartoon history, using the 1934 soundtrack with 1941 animation. (MGM did this a few times in the 1950's off late 1940's cartoons.) This film has an interesting comparison with Mickey's Amateurs (1937), only the acting was a little more elegant, Donald was being challenged to recite Mother Goose, and the audience was worse than unruly. After all, that describes Mickey's orphans. Donald gets the usual distraction performing the second of his nursery rhymes, Goofy gets his "bell rung" by Clarabelle after stripping her of her clothing, and Clara hits her high notes with Mickey on the piano (and an orphan's help). Donald finally completes his poem only to get the temporarily "angel" audience to clobber him with balloons holding up everything but the kitchen sink. Not a bad film, but Disney should be saying "aw nuts!!" after mixing the two tracks together.
From J. D. Weil : Fortunately for Tom Wilkins I did see the the 1934 original. The 1941 version is a frame-by-frame remake of the 1934 version even to the point of using the original soundtrack recording. The 1941 remake has the advantage of using updated graphics and Technicolor. There is, however, one minor difference in the animation between the two versions, Donald's Jimmy Durante impression (done to the words, "Am I mortified!") is missing in the 1941 remake. I guess that Durante's popularity wasn't as great in the 1940's.
From Ryan : I have never seen the original 1934 version of this short, but I think this short is okay. Again, as I have said in the past, I don't care much for those pesky orphans. I noticed one goof in the soundtrack. When Donald is in one of his hot temper modes, Mickey says "Pluto, behave yourself!" He's talking to Donald, not Pluto. And besides, Pluto never appeared in the cartoon.
From Rich : Here's another one of those fund-raising events for a bunch of hair-raising brats that Mickey holds. I must say that the most ridiculous part of this short is when Mickey tells Donald to behave himself. What did the duck do wrong?! He's trying to recite a little poem, and those little brat rats in the audience just keep on ticking him off. If you've seen "The Spirit of Mickey", you'll notice how similar this short is to Orphan's Picnic for two reasons. 1) Donald is constantly harassed by the orphans. 2) Mickey rarely appears! Altogether, this ain't that bad a cartoon. But someone oughta find those orphans a home, and fast! If anybody, Donald would be the first character in line for the job.
From Baruch Weiss : I haven't seen the 1934 version of this short, but this is a wonderful cartoon. I have watched it since I was a little kid!
From Michelle I. : A variety of great acts are performed at the orphans' benefit, but one must feel bad for poor Donald, who just can't get through 'Little Boy Blue' without having something thrown at or dumped on him by all those little Mickey orphans. By the end he's having a fit in which his words are even less decipherable than usual.

Referenced Comments