The excitement to finally get to watch one of the best Disney movies of all time was immense – and the Fella and I were happy to share this milestone moment with our dear friend Alexis.
photo by T.Katz
photo by Allen Castillo
photo by Denise Bennorth
A fortune-teller, a comedienne, and a witch at different turns in her life, Alexis is talented performer and creator in her own right. She definitely brought her a-game to the table when it came to our next stop on the Disney Odyssey… Aladdin!
This Disney Odyssey is brought to you by our friends and guests, Sarah and Andy! Sarah was in that futuristic Much Ado About Nothing we just did, playing the role of Hero, and her boyfriend Andy happened to go to the same school as the Fella! Smaaaaall world. Sarah told us that Sword in the Stone is one of her favorite Disney flicks of all time, so we invited them over for a medieval-ish dinner (pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, and green beans with a lemon poppyseed cake for dessert) and a chat while we watched the movie together.
It had been a while since all of us had seen this one – all of us but Andy, who had never seen it before this night! We were excited to get to share it with him, and had a lot of good laughs about Merlin’s crotchety nature, Archimedes’ cranky hooting, and the merits of transfiguring the future king of England into various animals in order to attempt to teach him basic physics and natural phenomena.
The Film: The Sword in the Stone (1963)
The Sword in the Stone was the final Disney animated film released before Walt’s death during the production of The Jungle Book in 1966.
The film features music by the Sherman brothers (Richard M. and Robert B.), who later did Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, etc. Their musical handiwork can be found throughout Disney films over the next several decades, and to this day can be heard in Disney parks, especially on Main Street.
Based on the novel of the same name which was published in 1938. Later, it was republished as the first novel of the T.H. White tetralogy The Once and Future King. Walt purchased the rights in 1939 and storyboards were produced in 1949. Sword in the Stone was in pre-production for several years along with another project called Chanticleer but Walt and some of the other team did not like the Chanticleer project – it wouldn’t work, they said, to make a personality out of a chicken. After Walt saw Camelot on Broadway in 1960, that was the final straw: Sword in the Stone would move forward and Chanticleer would be shut down.
Bizarrely, Arthur is voiced by three different actors: Rickie Sorensen, Richard Reitherman, and Robert Reitherman. All three use an American accent, contrasting the surrounding British voices and setting.
It was the sixth highest grossing film of 1963.
It was nominated for Best Score – Adaptation or Treatment at the Oscars in 1963.
Walt himself unknowingly served as the model for Merlin. Character designer Bill Peet gave Merlin Walt’s nose, and his playful, intelligent, cantankerous nature.
This is the last film Bill Peet served on as writer. Bill wrote a treatment for The Jungle Book, but Walt threw it away when the two had a falling out and Bill left the company.
Director Wolfgang Reitherman would direct every Disney feature from now into the 1980’s.
We’re celebrating the release of THE BOOKMINDER by M. K. Wiseman with a blog tour and Rafflecopter give-away! Visit each blog each day for more chances to win lots of great prizes. If you like epic fantasy, you’ll love this coming-of-age tale of magic and wizards set in the Renaissance era.
Glory be! We finally made it to Cinderella! It’s been an appropriately long time since I watched this one, and I’m glad we got through the odd and inconsistent 1940s package films to reach the golden, dreamy 1950s. Cinderella is in many ways the ‘number one’ Disney Princess, although Snow White is the first. If you check Google Images, Cindy is usually pictured at the center of the Disney Princess flying-v line-up. Observe:
WHO RUN THE WORLD? GIRLS!
While perhaps our modern sensibilities and craving for fierce, fearless ladies in leading roles may tell us that the earlier Disney Princesses are weak or wimpy, I’d like to encourage you all to remember that Snow White was fourteen years old and Cinderella was one of the most humble, dignified, good-hearted people on the planet. Let’s begin, shall we?
The Film:Cinderella (1950)
At the time Cinderella was made, Disney was $4 million in debt. The film cost $3 million to make. The profits from the film, however, were enough to bankroll several later films, save the entire company from bankruptcy, and fund the initial work on building Disneyland. Also during the 2005 re-release, it made $64 million, selling 3.2 million copies in the first week.
The story came from Charles Perrault’s fairy tale, which – for those of you playing along at home – is an Aarne-Thompson type 510A – “the persecuted heroine.” There are hundreds of variants of this type of story the world over, the oldest of which (dating back to 7 BC) is the story of Rhodopis, a Greek slave who marries the King of Egypt.
This is rated one of the best animated films of all time by the American Film Institute.
Live action reference was used to keep animation costs down – in fact, approximately 90% of it was filmed live.
Cinderella marks the first time that Disney sought its musical composition from Tin Pan Alley – and you can tell. The music in this film is iconic, catchy, and unified in a way that previous Disney films are not. It was also the first film where Disney copyrighted and released the soundtrack under the newly minted Walt Disney Music Company.
This film also features one of the pioneer examples of double track vocals long before it was used in pop music.
Walt said later that the torn-up dress Cinderella wears was inspired by Salvador Dali, and the impeccable ballgown she wears is heavily influenced by Christian Dior, who was just becoming a worldwide presence in the fashion industry.
Walt had two films in progress at once: Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland. Rather than schedule them himself, he challenged the production teams to race each other to finish and determine which film would release first.
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 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.