Mutt and Jeff: On Strike (1920)

Mutt and Jeff: On Strike

This rare and delightful Mutt and Jeff cartoon directed by Charley Bowers is one of six American films from the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia that were preserved with the aid of the National Film Preservation Foundation, which can be seen online or downloaded as a high quality MPEG file here. (The Museum of Modern Art seems to be the archive that did the actual preservation; the NFPF, of course, is responsible for the wonderful series of Treasures from American Film Archives DVDs.)

Mutt and Jeff: On Strike

The film’s plot in many ways anticipates Friz Freleng’s You Ought to Be in Pictures (1940). After seeing how their creator, Bud Fisher, is making a fortune off them, they demand a higher salary and better working conditions; when Fisher turns them down, they go on strike and decide to make their own cartoons.

Mutt and Jeff:  On Strike

However, the results are less than stellar …

Mutt and Jeff: On Strike

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… and they beg Fisher to take them back.

Mutt and Jeff in On Strike-36

(Thanks to Jeanpaul Goergen.)

Author: Harvey Deneroff

Harvey Deneroff is a Los Angeles-based independent animation and film scholar specializing in labor history. He formerly taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design and was editor of Animation Magazine, Animation World Magazine, and Graiffit (published by ASIFA-Hollywood). He is the founder and past president of the Society for Animation Studies.

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