On this day in 1953, Walt Disney Productions released a pair of animated shorts that remain well-known to this day. Ben and Me told the odd story of a mouse who lived with and inspired Ben Franklin. Based on a book by Robert Lawson and adapted for the screen by the great story artist Bill Peet, the two-reeler was eventually nominated for an Academy Award. On his blog, Michael Sporn has posted a series of storyboards that Peet created for the film.
Also released today was the famous Donald Duck short Working for Peanuts. Directed by Jack Hannah, and featuring perennial Duck antagonists Chip and Dale, the short was Disney’s first to be released in 3-D. While it would later be seen on television in 2-D, it would be revived for 3-D presentation in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom as a preshow for Magic Journeys from 1987-1993 and again theatrically in front of 3-D presentations of Meet the Robinsons in 2007. The Animation Backgrounds blog has posted a series of stills from the short showing the stylized, non-traditional backgrounds created by Disney artist Eyvind Earle. Earle, who most notably worked extensively on Sleeping Beauty, employed a very modern and impressionistic style that marked a break from the past in Disney animation of the 1950’s.