February 18, 2016 posted by

Harman/ Ising’s “Mischivous Mice” (1934)


It’s a short one today, but a fun short!

mice-250The Harman / Ising Studio produced three ‘Cubby Bear’ cartoons for Van Beuren in 1933. Two of the three, ‘’Cubby World Flight’ and Gay Gaucho’ saw theatrical release, and the third didn’t. It’s unclear why this happened, but what is interesting is that Hugh Harman productions released what appears to be a work print of the film in the late 40s, using soundtrack music from their recent Easy Does It industrial film, Judging from the 16mm prints that survive, It appears that they either licensed the short to ‘Radiovision’ or that Hugh Harman Productions *was* Radiovision. There is one other ‘Radiovision’ short as far as I know, and that’s a short called ‘Aladdin’s Vamp’- a pilot film made in 1926 for a proposed Arabian Nights series. It was animated by Hugh Harman, Rudiy Ising, Ham Hamilton and Ub Iwerks. Had Hugh Harman not released these two films many yeas after they were made, it’s unclear whether they would have survived.

mice-cat250The film itself shares is up to the usual quality of other Harman/Ising shorts of the time; it’s nicely animated with excellent backgrounds. One is left to wonder how it came to be that this clearly complete short was never released by RKO. Was it the cancellation of the Cubby Bear/ Aesop’s Fables series? Did Van Beuren hire Haman / Ising to keep up the schedule while they ramped up to produce the new Rainbow Parade shorts? We may never know…

This particular work print had markings for sound effects. Watch for them as the film runs. Most of these are just an x or a letter, but one says ‘Plop’ when the cat is set down. Funny enough, Harman didn’t add any sound effects to this release.

I first got a print of this film in the early 80s, when buying a big package of cartoons from Frank Bueno. I still have a few prints of it myself, and have borrowed some more to use on the new ‘Cubby Bear’ Blu-ray in progress at Thunderbean. We’ll be working on combining these various copies and cleaning up a final version for the DVD. Here’s one of the raw transfers of the title.

Have a good week everyone!


  • That was really interesting. Never saw it before. There are obvious cuts, probably losing dialogue-heavy scenes. It’s too bad that the music didn’t take advantage of the fact that the animation had been done to a musical beat. It wouldn’t be hard to create a new soundtrack for this that would make the animation work better by matching the visuals more tightly.

    How about showing Aladdin’s Vamp in a future installment? I’ve never seen that one either.

    • It does seem lazy but I suppose Hugh needed a quick buck.

  • You could see why Hugh would want to release this in the late 1940s, since a number of the gags, albeit in faster-paced form, were still showing up in studio cartoons (especially the rope/drag gag, which would be a staple of Warner Brothers cartoons well into the 1950s).

  • Was there any reused animation from some of Harman/ Isings’ Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies used in their Cubby Cartoons? They did that a lot in those shorts.

    • An early shot in this cartoon of mice boiling out of a mouse-hole, I swear was in “It’s Got Me Again,” the Oscar-nominated short.

    • I recall Cubby’s little side-step dance was lifted from Bosko’s Picture Show.

      Actually, Yowp did a post on these particular shorts with your answer already answered:

  • Ummm… this might just be me being a grammar nazi, but u spelled Mischievous wrong. I just wanted to let u know. Plz don’t yell at me, I’m just 15.

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