In this part of the timeline we are looking at the years 1947 to 1950. There are seven films that were released by Disney in these years and we start out in 1947 with fun and fancy free.
1947 – fun and fancy free
Fun and fancy free is made up of two stories. The first story bongo is hosted by Jiminy Cricket and narrated by Dinah Shore. Bongo is based on the tale little bear bong by Sinclair Lewis.
The story follows the adventures of a circus bear named Bongo who wishes he could live freely in the wild. Bongo is raised in captivity and is praised for his performances, but is poorly treated once he is off stage. As such, while traveling by a circus train his natural instincts urge him to break free. As soon as he escapes and enters a forest, a day passes before his idealistic assessment of his new living situation has been emotionally shattered and he experiences some hard conditions. The next morning however, he meets a female bear named Lulubelle. The two fall in love, until Bongo immediately faces a romantic rival in the brutish, enormously-shaped bear named Lumpjaw.
Bongo later aired as an individual episode on a 1955 episode of Walt Disney’s anthology TV series with new introductory segments, which used Jiminy Cricket’s narration and singing replacing Dinah Shore’s. The short was released separately in 1989 in the Walt Disney Mini-Classics line.
The second story is Mickey and the beanstalk and is hosted by Edgar Bergen and is a retelling of jack and the beanstalk.
This segment is narrated by Edgar Bergen in live-action sequences, who, with the help of his ventriloquist dummies Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, tells the tale to child actress Luana Patten at her birthday party.
A jovial countryside land called Happy Valley, kept alive at all times by a singing harp, is suddenly plagued by a severe drought and falls into turmoil and depression after the harp is stolen from the castle by a mysterious assailant (and also nicknamed “Gruesome Gulch”). The residents are driven into poverty and forced to leave in order to avoid death by starvation. Eventually, only three residents are left: Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. The trio have but just one loaf of bread and a single solitary bean to eat. One particular night, Mickey is forced to cut the bread into slices so ridiculously paper-thin that you could see right through them. Donald, driven to insanity by starvation, attempts to kill their pet cow with an axe, but is stopped by the combined efforts of Mickey and Goofy. Mickey then decides to sell the cow for money to buy food. Goofy and Donald are excited about eating again and begin to sing about delicious dishes until Mickey comes back and reveals that he traded their beloved bovine for a container of beans, which he claims to be magical. An enraged Donald, thinking that Mickey had been tricked, furiously throws the beans down the floor and they fall through a hole. However, it turns out that the beans are truly magical after all as later that night, the light of a full moon causes a beanstalk to sprout from under the house and lift it far up into the sky.
The short later aired as an individual episode on a 1963 episode of Walt Disney’s anthology TV series with new introductory segments. Ludwig Von Drake (voiced by Paul Frees) replaces Edgar Bergen as the narrator in the 1963 version, for which he has a Bootle-Beetle companion named Herman (replacing the sassy comments of Edgar Bergen’s ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy).
In the late 1930s, Mickey’s popularity fell behind Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Max Fleischer’s Popeye. To boost his popularity, Disney and his artists created cartoons such as “Brave Little Tailor” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, which was later included in the feature film Fantasia. In early 1940 during production on Fantasia, animators Bill Cottrell and T. Hee pitched the idea of a feature film based on Jack and the Beanstalk starring Mickey Mouse as Jack, with Donald Duck and Goofy as supporting characters.
Fun and Fancy Free received mostly positive reception. Rotten Tomatoes reported that the film has a 71% approval rating
1948 – melody time
Melody time is made up of several sequences set to popular music and folk music, the film is, like Make Mine Music before it, the popular music version of Fantasia.Melody Time was the last feature film to include Donald Duck & José Carioca until the 1988 movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit.The film was originally released in USA, Brazil, and Argentina in 1948, in 1949 in Australia and in 1950 in Mexico and Uruguay. From December 1948 (UK) to 15 September 1954 (Denmark) the film was released across Europe.At the time of its release, the film received “generally unfavorable reviews”. Due to the controversy surrounding the smoking in Pecos Bill, the segment was “heavily edited” when the film was released onto DVD in 1998. While the character of Bill is shown “smoking a cigarette in several sequences”, the edited version cuts these scenes, “resulting in the removal of almost the entire tornado sequence, and [creating] some odd hand and mouth movements for Bill throughout.
Seal Island is a 1948 American documentary film directed by James Algar and was the first installment of the True-Life Adventures series of nature documentaries. It won an Academy Award in 1949 for Best Short Subject.
In 1947, Walt Disney contracted with Alfred and Elma Milotte to shoot documentary footage of the wildlife and culture of Alaska. Disney did not see the theatrical value in the footage of human activity in Alaska, but he was intrigued with footage that the Milottes shot of the seal population at the Pribilof Islands. Disney himself coined the title Seal Island for the film, and planned it as the first in a new series of nature documentaries called True-Life Adventures.
The film consists of two segments – the first is based on the 1908 children’s novel The Wind in the Willows by British author Kenneth Grahame, and the second is based on the 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” called Ichabod Crane in the film, by American author Washington Irving.
The first segment is based on The Wind in the Willows (1908) by Kenneth Grahame. The story is set in and around London, England between 11 August 1908 and 1 January 1909. The protagonist J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. is introduced as an “incurable adventurer” who “never counted the cost”. Although he is the wealthy proprietor of the Toad Hall estate, Toad’s adventures and “positive mania for fads” have brought him to the brink of bankruptcy. As a last resort, Toad’s friend Angus MacBadger volunteers as Toad’s bookkeeper to help Toad keep his estate which is a source of pride in the community.
The second segment is based on “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. Although the film introduces the story as Ichabod Crane.In October 1790, Ichabod Crane, a lanky, gluttonous, superstitious yet charming dandy arrives in Sleepy Hollow, New York, a small village north of Tarrytown and New York City that is renowned for its ghostly hauntings, to be the town’s new schoolmaster.
The film received a 93% “Fresh” score among critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Like 1946’s Song of the South, the film combines animation and live action. It is based on the Sterling North book Midnight and Jeremiah.Set in Indiana in 1903, the film tells the tale of Jeremiah Kincaid (Bobby Driscoll) and his determination to raise a black-wool lamb that was once rejected by its mother.
The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song for Burl Ives’s version of the 17th-century English folk song “Lavender Blue,” but lost to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from Neptune’s Daughter.
Cinderella is based on the fairy tale Cendrillon by Charles Perrault.At the time, Walt Disney Productions had suffered from losing connections to the European film markets due to the outbreak of World War II, enduring some box office bombs like Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi, all of which would later become more successful with several re-releases in theaters and on home video. At the time, however, the studio was over $4 million in debt and was on the verge of bankruptcy. Walt Disney and his animators turned back to feature film production in 1948 after producing a string of package films with the idea of adapting Charles Perrault’s Cendrillon into a motion picture.
To create a character audiences would root for animators Marc Davis and Eric Larson knew Cinderella had to make every emotion, expression and movement believable. So they filmed live action footage of 18 year old actress Helene Stanley acting out the entire story.
Disney had not had a major hit since Dumbo. Disney insiders claimed that if Cinderella failed at the box office, then disney studio would have closed.
After toe years of production, Cinderella was released on 15th February 1950. It became the greatest critical and commercial hit since snow white and helped reverse the studio fortunes.
It received three academy award nominations, including best music, original song for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo and best song.
- Decades later it was followed by two direct to video sequels. Cinderella 2: Dreams come true and Cinderella 3: A twist in time and a live action remake in 2015.
- The transformation of Cinderella’s torn dress tot he white ball grown was considered to be walt’s favourite piece of animation.
- To save money when animating the pumpkin coach, the animations drew the coach to seemingly float on air so that they would not have to animate the turning wheels or the filigrees.
Treasure Island is a 1950 live action adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions, adapted from the Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1883 novel Treasure Island it stars Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins, and Robert Newton as Long John Silver. Treasure Island is notable for being Disney’s first completely live-action film and the first screen version of Treasure Island made in color. It was filmed in England on location and at Denham Film Studios, Buckinghamshire.
The film was the sixth most popular movie at the British box office in 1950. Walt Disney Productions re-released the film to US theaters in 1975. It had to be submitted to the MPAA to receive a rating; they gave the film a PG. At the time, Disney had a G-only policy that would not be relaxed for another four years to allow PG-rated films, so they cut the film to receive a G rating.  Those cuts totaled 9 minutes, bringing the film’s running time down to 87 minutes.
Thanks for reading this instalment of the timeline. Next instalment will go though the years 1951 – 1953 which include the films alice in wonderland, peterman and the sword and the rose.
Many thanks for reading hope to see you next time
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