Ben and Me
|Ben and me|
|Directed by||Hamilton Luske|
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Written by||Robert Lawson (novel)
Bill Peet (screen story)
|Narrated by||Sterling Holloway|
|Music by||Oliver Wallace|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|November 10, 1953|
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 American founding father Benjamin Franklin, the book, with illustrations by Lawson, focused more heavily on actual historical events and personages, and included incidents from Franklin's French career at Versailles.
The short received an Academy Award nomination for Best Short Subject, Two-reel.  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.
In present day, two tour groups are simultaneously visiting a statue of Benjamin Franklin. The human tour group in front of the statue discusses Franklin's life and achievements, while the leader of a mouse tour group which is standing at the top of Franklin's hat reveals the contributions of a mouse named Amos to Franklin's career.
In 1745, Amos, the eldest of twenty-six siblings living in the Christ Church in Philadelphia, decides to leave his family - thus relieving them of another mouse (mouth) to feed - and find work somewhere. After no luck, and while trying to take shelter from a freezing and snowy night, Amos befriends Benjamin Franklin in his printing shop. Eventually Amos aids in Franklin's publishing, inventing, and political career. Amongst Amos' contributions were making bifocals, inspiring Franklin to build the Franklin stove and suggesting how to fix a major problem with it, and encouraging Franklin to print an event-oriented newspaper which Amos names the Pennsylvania Gazette.
After Ben's experiments with electricity endanger Amos' life, Amos leaves Ben, ignoring Ben's pleas for him to return, and moves back in with his family.
Years later, Franklin is sent to England as part of a colonial attempt to reason with the king. But the mission is a failure. Franklin tells the crowd when he gets off a boat that "The King was unreasonable. He wouldn't listen." Amos, hearing this and seeing the confusion and anger of the colonists—realises that he could help, but he initially refuses. Amos and Franklin finally resolve their disagreements in the midst of the American Revolution, and Amos and Franklin play a key role aiding Thomas Jefferson with the drafting of the United States Declaration of Independence.
- Sterling Holloway as Amos Mouse
- Charles Ruggles as Benjamin Franklin
- Bill Thompson as Governor Keith
- Hans Conried as Thomas "Red" Jefferson / Crook