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Directors: Harry Bailey & John Foster
Release Date: November 23, 1930
Stars: Milton Mouse, Rita Mouse
Rating: ★★
Review:

The Office Boy © Van Beuren‘The Office Boy’ is yet another Van Beuren cartoon featuring Milton Mouse and Rita Mouse, Van Beuren’s sloppy copies of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, indirectly showing the mouse’s enormous popularity.

This time Milton is an office boy, where Rita is a secretary. The story involves Milton getting jealous of Rita when the boss flirts with her. So Milton invites the boss’s wife to catch her husband red-handed. In the end we watch Milton and Rita jumping into a painting on a train to sing their end duet.

The designs and animation of Milton and Rita are terrible, but too close for comfort, and some of Mickey’s mannerisms have clearly been copied. As was the case in ‘Circus Capers‘, Milton and Rita are more vulgar than their Disney counterparts, despite the similar looks, and most of the fun of the cartoon lies in the rude behavior of these pseudo-Mickey and Minnie. The cartoon’s best gag, however, is when Rita starts typing frantically even when her boss hasn’t really dictated anything.

But Milton’s and Rita’s days were numbered. In 1931 Disney sued the Van Beuren company, and on April 30, 1931 the federal court prohibited the Van Beuren studio to display any of his Mickey Mouse-lookalikes. The Walt Disney company never asked for money, however. They simply wanted the plagiarism to stop.

Watch ‘The Office Boy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘The Office Boy’ is available on the DVD ‘Uncensored Animation from the Van Beuren Studio’

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Director: Harry Bailey
Release Date: December 1, 1929
Stars: Milton Mouse, Rita Mouse
Rating:
Review:

Close Call © Van Beuren‘Close Call’ is one of Van Beuren’s earliest sound cartoons, and it shows. Its visual language is still from the silent era, including the use of words on the screen.

The short unashamedly features two clear ripoffs of Walt Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse. We watch them frolicking in a field, when a large cat kidnaps “Minnie” and takes her to a sawmill. “Mickey” comes to the rescue, only to be tied up by the cat to a sawmill, in a classic scene. As luckily as incomprehensibly the North West Mounted Police rides off to rescue the loving couple. They kill the cat (!), and the two mice are married.

The animation on ‘Close Call’ is terribly primitive, and there’s a lot of squeaking, but apart from the final “I do”‘s, there’s no dialogue. Moreover, there’s more drama to the short than humor, making it a tiring watch. The Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters (which off-screen apparently were christened Milton and Rita) would return in several of Van Beuren’s ‘Aesop’s Fables’ cartoons, e.g. ‘Circus Capers‘ and ‘The Office Boy‘ from 1930.

Watch ‘Close Call’ yourself and tell me what you think:

 

‘Close Call’ is available on the DVD ‘Uncensored Animation from the Van Beuren Studio’

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