Ben and Me
|Ben and me|
|Directed by||Hamilton Luske|
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Written by||Robert Lawson (novel)
Bill Peet (screen story)
|Starring||Sterling Holloway, Charles Ruggles,
|Music by||Oliver Wallace|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Release date(s)||November 10, 1953|
|Running time||20 minutes|
Ben and Me was Disney's first animated two-reel short subject and released theatrically on November 10, 1953. It was adapted from the children's book written by author/illustrator Robert Lawson and first published in 1939. Though both book and film deal with the relationship between a mouse and Benjamin Franklin, the book, with illustrations by Lawson, focused more heavily on actual historical events and personages.
The short received an Academy Award nomination for Best Short Subject.  It was 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 Walt Disney Treasures collection. It was also released on DVD in 2012 under the Disney Generations Collection.
This short was also notable for being the first release on the Buena Vista Distribution label. On its release, Ben and Me was packaged with a live action short called Stormy and the True-Life Adventure documentary The Living Desert. When Disney's regular distributor RKO Pictures resisted the idea of a full length True-Life Adventure, Disney formed his own distribution company to handle future Disney releases.
"Ben and Me" opens with two tour groups simultaneously visiting a statue of Benjamin Franklin. The human tour group discusses Franklin's life and achievements, while the leader of a mouse tour group reveals the contributions of a mouse, Amos, to Franklin's career.
Narrated by Amos, through his memoirs, the mouse recalls how he first met and befriended Benjamin Franklin, eventually aiding in his publishing, inventions, and political career. Amongst Amos' contributions were making bifocals, inspiring him to build the Franklin stove, and encouraging him to print an event-oriented newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. After Ben's experiments with electricity endanger Amos' life, Amos leaves Ben and moves back in with his family. Franklin is sent to England as part of a colonial attempt to reason with the king, but the mission is a failure. Franklin says, "The King was unreasonable. He wouldn't listen." Amos, seeing this—and the confusion and anger of the colonists—realises that he could help, but initially refuses. Amos and Franklin finally resolve their disagreements in the midst of the American Revolution, and Amos plays a key role aiding Thomas Jefferson with the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.
- Amos Mouse: Sterling Holloway
- Benjamin Franklin: Charles Ruggles
- Thomas Jefferson, Others: Hans Conried
- Other voices: Bill Thompson