Orphan's Benefit

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Orphan's Benefit
Mickey Mouse series
Orphan's Benefit.png
Donald (left) and Mickey make their entrance
Directed by Burt Gillett
Produced by Walt Disney
Voices by Walt Disney
Florence Gill
Clarence Nash
Music by Frank Churchill
Animation by Johnny Cannon
Norm Ferguson
Ward Kimball (inbetweener)
Dick Lundy
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s)
  • August 11, 1934 (1934-08-11)
(USA)
Running time 9 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Preceded by Mickey's Steamroller
Followed by Mickey Plays Papa

Orphan's Benefit is an animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions. It was first released as a black-and-white cartoon in 1934 and was later remade in Technicolor in 1941 under the title Orphans' Benefit. The cartoon features Mickey Mouse and his friends putting on a benefit show for a group of unruly orphans. It contains a number of firsts for Disney, including the first time in which Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck appear together.

Orphan's Benefit features original music by Frank Churchill. The voice cast includes Walt Disney as Mickey, Clarence Nash as Donald, and Florence Gill as Clara Cluck. The original cartoon was directed by Burt Gillett and distributed by United Artists while the remake was directed by Riley Thomson and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures.[1]

Plot[edit]

The mice orphans arrive at a theater for a free show entitled "Mickey's Big Show: Orphan's Benefit." As they file into the building they are given free lollipops, ice cream, and balloons.

Donald Duck begins the show by reciting "Mary Had a Little Lamb", dancing "Sailor's Hornpipe", and reciting "Little Boy Blue." But when he says "come blow your horn," an orphan loudly blows his nose and Donald gets frustrated. He recites it a second time, but this time all of the orphans blow their noses. Donald's temper flares and he challenges them to fight, but is forcibly removed from stage.

The next performance is Goofy, Horace Horsecollar, and Clarabelle Cow performing an acrobatic dance.

After this, Donald returns to have his revenge by reciting "Little Boy Blue" and blowing his own horn before the orphans can respond. An orphan responds by blowing ice cream at him, provoking him further. As Donald challenges them to fight again the orphans punch him with boxing gloves almost knocking him out. Donald is again removed from stage.

Mickey then introduces the "Barnyard Nightingale", Clara Cluck, who sings a clucking aria from the second act of Lucia di Lammermoor ("Chi mi frena in tal momento") accompanied by Mickey on piano.

Finally Donald returns to the stage one last time and quickly recites one line – "Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn" – and waits for the orphans to interrupt him. Yet as they seem well-behaved this time, Donald continues the recitation. But when he says "Where is that boy who looks after the sheep?" the orphans answer in unison "Under the haystack fast asleep, you dope." This angers Donald all the more, yet while he challenges the orphans to fight again, they tie bricks and other heavy objects onto their balloons, float them over his head, and pop the balloons with their slingshots unleashing a barrage on him, culminating in a box of raw eggs. When it's all over Donald finally accepts defeat and exclaims "Aw nuts!"[2]

Firsts[edit]

Orphan's Benefit was the first appearance of Donald Duck in a Mickey Mouse series film, marking the characters' first joint appearance. Donald had previously appeared only in a Silly Symphonies film.

Although Orphan's Benefit was Donald's second appearance, the film was the first to significantly develop his character. Many of Donald's personality traits first seen in Orphan's Benefit would become permanently associated with him, such as his love of showmanship, his fierce determination, belligerence, and most famously his easily provoked temper. The film also introduced some of Donald's physical antics, such as his signature temper tantrum of hopping on one foot while holding out one fist and swinging the other. This was the creation of animator Dick Lundy who termed this Donald's "fighting pose."[3]

Orphan's Benefit also represented a new direction for Disney cartoons, as noted by Disney historian Marcia Blitz: "It can be seen that the framework of Orphan's Benefit was traditionally slapstick. Audiences laughed at Donald's physical mishaps much as they laughed at Chaplin's or Keaton's. But in this instance there was the added dimension of Donald's abrasive personality. Surely nothing like it had ever been seen in a cartoon".[4] Animator Ward Kimball who worked on the film called it a "turning point" for the studio, citing its extensive use of character animation which was used to physically convey personality.[5]

The film was also the first appearance of Clara Cluck[6] who would go on to appear in six other cartoon shorts.

Reception[edit]

The response of audiences to the film, particular Donald's character, led to the duck being featured more in future cartoons. Ward Kimball said "the reaction [to Orphan's Benefit] that came pouring into the studio from the country was tremendous[.] The kids in the theater loved or hated or booed Donald Duck."[5]

Remake[edit]

Orphans' Benefit
Orphans' Benefit.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Riley Thompson
Animation by Jim Armstrong
Johnny Cannon[7]
Ed Love
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s)
  • August 12, 1941 (1941-08-12)
(USA)
Color process Technicolor
Preceded by The Nifty Nineties
Followed by Lend a Paw

In the summer of 1939, in anticipation of Mickey Mouse's 12th anniversary the following year, Walt Disney commissioned a two-reel short film tentatively called Mickey's Revival Party. The plan was for this film to show the characters attending a theater where they would watch scenes from several old, mostly black and white[8] Mickey Mouse films (among them Orphan's Benefit). The story artists envisioned the characters humorously interacting with themselves on the movie screen. This required the old animation footage to be redrawn completely rather than added as-is.

It was during this process that Walt Disney decided to completely reproduce several of these old shorts in color. It was also an opportunity to update the character models, since many characters had changed in appearance since the early 1930s.

Orphan's Benefit was the first of these films to be redone. The result was an almost exact shot-for-shot version of the original, with added color and redrawn characters and backgrounds.[9] The film was directed by Riley Thomson and used almost the entire original soundtrack, the only change being the final line, from "Aw nuts!" to "Aw phooey!" which had become a common catchphrase for Donald by that time. The title of the film also saw a small change making it more grammatically correct, although this was not reflected in some promotional material such as the film poster (seen right). Orphans' Benefit was released to theaters on August 12, 1941 by RKO Radio Pictures.[1]

The next film scheduled for reproduction was Mickey's Man Friday (1935), but it was never completed. The original concept for Mickey's Revival Party was shelved and Orphan's Benefit became the only Disney film to be recreated scene for scene. It is unknown what led to the cancellation, although animation historian David Gerstein speculated that World War II or the Disney animators' strike of 1941 may have played a role, or that Walt Disney simply preferred to work on all-new films rather than "extensively revisit the past."[10][11]

Historical notes[edit]

Donald's recitation of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" was inspired by Clarence Nash's own recitation of the poem on the radio, a performance he had intended to sound like a nervous baby goat. It was largely because of this performance that Nash was hired by Disney to voice the duck.[12]

Donald impersonates the comedian Jimmy Durante when he says "Am I mortified! Am I mortified!" His bill even changes shape to make fun of Durante's famous nose. The joke was not as noticeable in the remake because Donald's bill keeps its shape.

In 1989, an animation cel from the original Orphan's Benefit, depicting Donald being punched by an orphan, sold for $286,000 (then £174,390) at a Christie's auction in New York. Guinness World Records confirmed this was the most money ever paid for a black and white animation cel.[13]

Adaptations[edit]

In 1968, Disneyland Records released an abridged audio-only version of Orphan's Benefit on the album Mickey Mouse and his Friends as the track "Mickey's Big Show." The album was re-released in 2010 as a digital download on Amazon MP3 and the iTunes Store.[14][15]

In October 1973 the story was adapted into a 13 page comic book story in the Italian publication "Cartonatoni Disney" #14. The story was called Recita di Beneficenza, or Benefit Recital.[16] The same year an English version was published in the American comic book "Walt Disney Magic Moments" #1, called The Orphans' Benefit.[17]

Releases[edit]

Original
Remake

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Smith, Dave (1996). "Orphan's Benefit". Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Hyperion. pp. 374–375. ISBN 0-7868-8149-6. 
  2. ^ Changed to "Aw, phooey!" in the remake.
  3. ^ A Letter from Dick Lundy on "Mayerson on Animation." 18-05-2006; retrieved 07-07-2011.
  4. ^ Blitz, Marcia (1979). Donald Duck. New York: Harmony Books. p. 36. ISBN 0-517-52961-0. 
  5. ^ a b Gabler, Neal (2007). Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. New York: Vintage. pp. 201–2. ISBN 0-679-75747-3. 
  6. ^ Like Donald Duck, Clara Cluck had previously appeared in name only in several Disney children's books. Her first mention was in The Adventures Mickey Mouse: Book 1 (1931) where she is included in a list of Mickey's barnyard friends.
  7. ^ Walt Disney Animation Studios (2009). The Archive Series: Animation. New York, New York: Disney Editions. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-4231-1716-2. ; shows animation artwork of Donald drawn by Cannon from 1941
  8. ^ The Band Concert was the only color film included in these which totaled 19 films. (Gerstein)
  9. ^ Orphan's Benefit Comparison on YouTube. Both versions are shown side by side with the original cut to synchronize with the remake.
  10. ^ Gerstein, David (2005). Walt Disney's Mickey and the Gang: Classic Stories in Verse. Timonium, MD: Gemstone Publishing. p. 230. ISBN 1-888472-06-5. 
  11. ^ A side-by-side comparison of Disney’s “Orphan’s Benefit” on Cartoon Brew
  12. ^ Biographies of 10 Classic Disney Characters at the official Disney website
  13. ^ Guinness World Records, retrieved 2011-09-22
  14. ^ Unknown Artist – Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse And His Friends at Discogs.com
  15. ^ Mickey Mouse And His Friends at Amazon.com
  16. ^ Recita di Beneficenza at INDUCKS
  17. ^ "Walt Disney Magic Moments" #1 at INDUCKS
  18. ^ Walt Disney Presents Episodes on ABC
  19. ^ Orphan's Benefit at "The Encyclopedia for Disney Animated Shorts"
  20. ^ Movie connections for Mickey, Donald & Goofy: Friends to the End" on the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]