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Western Animation / Trouble Indemnity

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Trouble Indemnity is a 1950 UPA animated short directed by Pete Burness and John Hubley and starring Mr. Magoo.

Magoo, voiced as always by Jim Backus, is visited by a Traveling Salesman offering him a life insurance policy. Magoo is at first not interested, but then the salesman, seeing all the Rutgers memorabilia in his hall closet, pretends to be a fellow Rutgers alumnus and soon makes the sale. Not much later, Magoo has a small accident and decides to file a claim, but on his way to the Fly by Nite Insurance Company, he instead wanders into a construction site across the street. Now the salesman and his boss have to scramble to keep their best (and only) client from falling to his death... and taking the company with him.

Marks the directorial debut of Burness, who would go on to direct most of Magoo's cartoons. It's also the first Magoo short nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film; interestingly, it lost to another UPA cartoon, Gerald McBoing-Boing.


  • Blind Mistake: Wouldn't be a Mr. Magoo cartoon without one! First he tries to throw the salesman out the front door, but puts him in the hall closet instead. Then he trips on a tiger skin rug and thinks he's been bitten by his dog, which is why he's going to the insurance company. And then he misreads a sign in front of the construction site and thinks it's the insurance office.
  • Construction Zone Calamity: Magoo bungles his way into a building under construction, while the insurance salesman and his boss try to keep him from harm.
  • The Fool: As usual, Magoo emerges from his ordeal unharmed and unaware he was ever in danger. The same can't be said of the insurance salesman and his boss.
  • Funny Background Event: As the salesman talks about Magoo being a good risk, Magoo is seen outside the window traipsing around the construction site. The salesman and his boss don't notice him until a girder is hoisted by the window, with Magoo standing on it.
  • Getting the Boot: Magoo attempts to shove Tirefighter out the front door, but accidentally puts him in the hall closet.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Magoo steps off a girder thinking he's entering an elevator, and stands in mid air for a split second before plummeting. Such Toon Physics is actually rare for a Magoo cartoon, which tend to be more grounded.
  • Harmless Electrocution: For the finale, Magoo enters an electrical substation, which lights up with sparks and flashes. The salesman and boss mourn their heavily insured client, but to their amazement, Magoo exits the station unscathed! But as soon as he shakes hands with them, Magoo shocks them with a thousand volts of electricity.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Tirefighter thought Magoo was an easy mark to buy a $400,000 life policy. He soon learns the hard way just how uninsurable Magoo truly is.
  • Line-of-Sight Alias: After seeing all the Rutgers memorabilia in Magoo's closet, Tirefighter reintroduces himself as Ron Rutgers of the Rutgers College Alumni Association.
  • Oddly Small Organization: The Fly By Nite Insurance Company consists of two employees. Justified in that it's clearly a shady con operation
  • Skewed Priorities: The salesman and his boss aren't trying to save Magoo out of personal concern for his safety, but because paying out his life insurance would leave them bankrupt. As the boss puts it, "If he falls, the company falls!"
  • Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names: The salesman is named Aloyisius Q. Tirefighter. Magoo is himself an example.