Film Review: Fun and Fancy Free (1947)

Also known as: Fun and Fancy Free, Featuring Mickey and the Beanstalk (VHS title)
Release Date: September 27th, 1947 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts, Hamilton Luske, William Morgan (live-action)
Written by: Homer Brightman, Eldon Dedini, Lance Nolley, Tom Oreb, Harry Reeves, Ted Sears
Based on: Little Bear Bongo by Sinclair Lewis, Jack and the Beanstalk
Music by: Oliver Wallace, Paul Smith, Eliot Daniel, Charles Wolcott
Cast: Cliff Edwards, Edgar Bergen, Luana Patten, Walt Disney, Clarence Nash, Pinto Colvig, Billy Gilbert, Anita Gordon

Walt Disney Animation Studios, RKO Radio Pictures, 73 Minutes

Review:

“Once upon a time, long long ago…” – Edgar Bergen, “Funny, nothing ever happens nowadays.” – Charlie McCarthy

The fourth of six films in Disney’s 1940s package/anthology series is a return to form of what the first two were. It actually plays very similarly to Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, except it’s not pushing Latin American tourism as its main objective.

This one is an anthology film that features a few short animation tales that come together with a series of live-action bits featuring a guy and his ventriloquist dummy telling the tales to kids. The guy and his dummy also narrate the short films.

Honestly, my only real issue with Fun and Fancy Free was the narration. It’s not bad but the guy talking to his dummy gets tiresome after awhile and it felt like more of a distraction by the time you reach the great Mickey and the Beanstalk story.

That Beanstalk cartoon is the most memorable bit to come out of this film and it has lived on beyond this movie as a whole. I think most kids, even today, have seen or at least heard of Mickey and the Beanstalk but not a lot of people would know what Fun and Fancy Free is. That’s probably due to that short film appearing on its own over the years in a variety of places.

In the end, this is mostly okay but it’s not up to the level of what Walt Disney Studios was capable of at their best.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Disney’s other 1940s package/anthology films.

Film Review: Pinocchio (1940)

Release Date: February 7th, 1940 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Ben Sharpsteen (supervising director), Hamilton Luske (supervising director), Bill Roberts, Norman Ferguson, Jack Kinney, Wilfred Jackson, T. Hee
Written by: Ted Sears, Otto Englander, Webb Smith, William Cottrell, Joseph Sabo, Erdman Penner, Aurelius Battaglia
Based on: The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Music by: Leigh Harline, Paul J. Smith
Cast: Cliff Edwards, Dickie Jones, Christian Rub, Mel Blanc, Walter Catlett, Charles Judels, Evelyn Venable, Frankie Darro, Thurl Ravenscroft

Walt Disney Animation Studios, RKO Radio Pictures, 88 Minutes

Review:

“[after singing “When You Wish Upon a Star”] Pretty, huh? I’ll bet a lot of you folks don’t believe that, about a wish comin’ true, do ya? Well, I didn’t, either. Of course, I’m just a cricket singing my way from hearth to hearth, but let me tell you what made me change my mind.” – Jiminy Cricket

I figured that I’d followup my review of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with Pinocchio. I’m planning on working my way through all the Disney animated films of the classic hand drawn style. I think I’ll probably just do them in order, as opposed to jumping around.

To start, I’ve always liked this story more than Snow White and the animation is also a step up, as it looks more fluid, more refined and kind of pristine by comparison.

While I know that these movies have been digitally restored and tinkered with, you can still see a difference in the overall craftsmanship between the two films. And that’s not a knock against Snow White, as it is still better than anything that came before it. This is more to illustrate how Walt Disney really jumped forward with this picture.

This is also a main reason as to why I want to review these films in order, as it makes it easier to see the progression of Disney’s artists, as well as the company’s overall execution.

Apart from that, I find this to be a good, amusing and lighthearted film that has stood the test of time. It’s still funny and while it might not seem relevant, it still has lessons within it that are important for kids to learn. In the simplest terms, this movie shows kids that its not cool to lie or to be a crappy person.

The film also does a fantastic job at expressing wonderment. It’s a great adventure where Pinocchio is a fish out of water but also in awe of all the things that seem greater than himself.

It also teaches about stranger danger and how some people shouldn’t be trusted and that there are schemes and scams in the world, waiting to exploit those who aren’t careful.

I love this film. While it’s not my favorite of the classic Disney animated pictures, it is definitely one of the best of the earliest crop.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Disney’s other early animated feature films.