Disney Odyssey, Non-Fiction

Disney Odyssey #2 – “But I don’t WANNA be an actor!”

I was so floored by the huge response I got to the first Disney Odyssey post that I was really excited to do the next one. Last night, The Fella and I made chicken and linguine in sweet basil sauce augmented with apple cider and settled in with the classic tale of a lonely old man who wishes for his homemade, not-so-lifelike wooden puppet to become a real boy because for some reason he thinks he’s capable of achieving parenthood even at his age and socio-economic status.

The Movie: Pinocchio (1940)

The Facts: 

  • The movie received two Academy Awards: Best Original Score and Best Original Song (for “When You Wish Upon A Star,” which of course is now the intro jingle for many Disney films, where the logo of Cinderella’s castle appears in the opening credits)
  • When its predecessor, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” received an honorary Oscar, Walt Disney accepted the statuette and spent the next 25 minutes telling the captive audience about Pinocchio, which was already in production. No one complained.
  • The model for the Blue Fairy, Evelyn Venable, was also the original model for the Columbia Studios logo.
  • Working models of all of Gepetto’s cuckoo clocks were built for animation reference.
  • Stromboli’s wagon was a real wagon they filmed and then painted onto the animation cells. Same technique was later used in 101 Dalmations.
  • In 1993 an article in Playboy (of all places) cited 43 instances of violence and bad behavior in this film.
  • The Ace of Spades that Honest John offers Pinocchio as his ‘ticket’ to Pleasure Island was known in contemporary folklore as the “death card.”
  • The original budget for this film was $500,000. The final, actual budget was $2.8 million. Woof.

The Observations:

  • In the opening bit with Jiminy Cricket singing the runaway pop hit of the movie, you can see to the left two of the books on the shelf are Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland – both of which had already begun production in Disney’s studios at this point. ooooOOOOoooo foreshaaaadowingggggg
SPOTTED: PP & A on deck!
SPOTTED: P & A on the left!
  • So………………..*squint*……………..Jiminy Cricket is a hobo?
  • OMG FIGARO. I forgot about this kitten. How could I forget? This is the cutest kitten in the history of animated kittens… except that one Looney Toons episode with the bulldog and the kitten. Also Figaro was Walt’s favorite part of the film, hence why he is in so much of the movie.
Also that dinner looks seriously amazing.
Also that dinner looks seriously amazing.
  • Gepetto has a pretty cluttered house, even for a woodcarver. He’s more of a toymaker really. Wait. He looks a lot like the toymaker in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Wait. *squint* Gepetto’s accent isn’t even Italian. Are those mountains? WHERE ARE WE.
  • Was Jiminy Cricket a phrase before this film? Or did it come from this film? TO WIKIPEDIA! Hmm. It says it’s a minced oath for “Jesus Christ” (well obviously) and it was popular well before this film was released.
  • Wikipedia also notes that the story of Pinocchio takes place in Tuscany, and — TUSCANY? Why does Gepetto sound ambiguously German?
  • The Blue Fairy throws down some Velveteen Rabbit law up in here: you aren’t real yet, but you CAN be if you do good and choose the right things to get you there. Awwwwww Velveteen Rabbit! Which also preceded this film, in case you were wondering. The Velveteen Rabbit was released in 1922. Buuuuut there was apparently an 1883 novel of Pinocchio so actually I don’t know what the deal is with this parallel so nevermindokthanksbye
  • IMDB notes that Gepetto’s voice actor often went on tirades about how wonderful Adolf Hitler was. Oh. Oh okay. So….
  • Wait wait wait hold the ding dang phone a minute, this is NOT how anyone learns to whistle. You don’t just like, mouth the words to a song and suddenly you can perform a coloratura aria with your mouth-hole. Believe me, I’ve tried, and that’s not—


Result: Aly made a singular, loud, clear note whistle during this musical sequence but was unable to recreate it after that because she was laughing too hard from embarrassment. Also, she can’t whistle if the Fella is looking at her. It’s embarrassing. 

  • Okay, so, Pinocchio’s been alive less than 12 hours and he’s already going to go to school? Also, EVERYONE in this town is human except for Honest John (a giant bipedal fox) and Giddy (a squat bipedal cat). Nobody wants to discuss that?
  • Honest John: “So you haven’t heard of the Easy Road to Success? No? I’m speaking, my boy, of the theatre!” I’M SORRY BUT WHAT
  • It’s pretty clear that they made Giddy just like Dopey because errrrrrybody love Dopey. That makes Giddy the zanni or the Pedrolino of the film, and Honest John is very much a Brighella or a Pulchinella type.
  • Stromboli = definitely Italian. Gepetto = pretty much basically not really Italian at all.
  • Number of times Jiminy Cricket (of all people) has checked someone out, tried to hook up with, or had a flirtations, romantic, or sexual experience with someone or something in this film: a whopping total of 4 (inanimate objects and fish included in this number)
Count 'em.
Count ’em.
  • “What does an actor want with a conscience anyway?” YEP BASICALLY.
  • Annnnnnnnd we went from rising star to literally just got kidnapped. Pinocchio is not good at reading people in social situations. To be fair, he’s only been alive for less than 24 hours at this point.
  • Gepetto’s glasses and red hat are really familiar… Is Gepetto related to Smee?!
oooOOoo foreshaaadowinggggg
oooOOoo foreshaaadowinggggg
  • “I’d rather be smart than be an actor!” PREACH SON.
  • “It’s a swell joint!” I’m sorry, are the naughty boys they’re kidnapping and taking to Pleasure Island all New York street urchins and newsies? What year is it?
  • Wow, I had completely forgotten that this movie has so much cigar-smoking, drinking, fighting, looting, pool/billiards and gambling in it. Also kidnapping. Did we mention the kidnapping? This is insane! I mean, yes, it plays into the major theme of the film, which is all about morals and right vs. wrong, but WOW.
  • what what WHAT are those faceless lumpy dark shadowy figures? and WHO is the coachman? and WHAT happens to the donkeyboys that can still talk? and what happens to the rest of the donkeys? do they change back? do they stay trapped forever in their hee-haw little bodies? Where is the Blue Fairy’s justice now?!?!
These poor fallen comrades...
These poor fallen comrades…
Seriously though what are they.
Seriously though what are they.
  • Monstro is the whale’s NAME. Of course he’s ginormous and every fish that lives in the ocean is terrified of him. By name. Because he’s the only whale that big. Also what kind of whale has teeth like that? It’s like an orca’s mouth on a sperm whale body or somethi– Huh? The Fella has just informed me that sperm whales do in fact have giant chomp-your-face dentures. I am… actually ashamed that I had mistakenly held sperm whale in my mind as having baleen instead of teeth. I’ll be over here, quietly crying into my Free Willy VHS case about my childhood love of all kinds of mammalian sea life which I have apparently totally forsaken now that I’m a grown-up.
  • At the end of it all, Pinocchio has been alive/sentient for approximately THREE DAYS and has been lied to, forced to perform onstage, stolen from, cheated out of fair wages, kidnapped (twice), encouraged/allowed to drink alcohol and smoke cigars and fight and gamble, partially transfigured into a donkey, forced to swim for his life, abandoned by his father, forced to walk along the bottom of the ocean in search of a giant whale, swallowed by said whale, reunited with his father in the belly of said whale only to realize they need to make the whale sneeze them out by building a fire, basically drowned in the process of escaping, and then turned into a real live human being by magic. Conclusion: this is a horror film.

Commedia BONUS! Number of Lazzi in the Film: 10 – including a really delightful Dottore imitation by Honest John, treatment of inanimate objects as live beings, inanimate objects responding to vocal command, a “run around in panic and try to put out a fire” sequence, smart clown/dumb clown combo (Honest John & Giddy), and more.

Next time on Disney Odyssey… Fantasia!

3 thoughts on “Disney Odyssey #2 – “But I don’t WANNA be an actor!””

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