Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fun and Fancy Free {1947}

{Animated Disney Film #9 of 52}

Okay, so it's been a while since I've done my Disney animated film marathon...I think the last review was nearly two months ago? Oops. In the list, I'm currently amongst movies that I don't own, so I've been having to get them through Netflix. And I went for a while there where other things got bumped up to the top of my queue (Season 2 of Call the Midwife, for example :). Then the next film on my list had a "very long wait," and it took about a month for them to send it out to me. But anyway, here it is: Fun and Fancy Free!

Fun and Fancy Free is another package film from the 40s. Yeah...if you can't tell, I'm not crazy about these package films. I understand that the studio was making WWII propaganda films for the US during that time and wasn't able to put the money or effort into full length films. And the package films helped give them the funds to make the awesome animated features that came about in the 50s. But cramming a bunch of random little sequences together into one big film is not the best idea.

Having said that, this particular movie was actually pretty good. I think that's because there are only two "mini-films" within it, unlike some of the others where there are six or seven. More time could be devoted to developing the two stories and their characters and plots. Actually, the plan was for each of these to be feature length films, but after America entered the war there just wasn't an opportunity for that.

Of course at the beginning there's a random sort of backstory where Disney tries vainly to tie the two stories together. The backstory involves Jiminy Cricket and the fish from Pinocchio, so of course it reminds me of that movie.

The first half of Fun and Fancy Free is the story of Bongo. Bongo is a circus bear who is beloved by his public and does all sorts of marvelous tricks, but he's treated rather badly when he's out of the limelight. One day Bongo gets sick of circus life and decides to escape and live in the wilderness, but he quickly discovers he has a lot to learn about being a real bear.

It's basically Dumbo meets Bambi. :) Dinah Shore narrates it the story, singing in some parts and just narrating in others. I think she has a lovely voice, so I really enjoyed that aspect. The story itself was kind of...eh. It was okay, but just sort of silly and random. And of course there's a bear love story slipped in there, too.

After Bongo, Jiminy Cricket heads next door to a little girl's birthday party. And at the party is a ventriloquist and two of his creepy dummies. Apparently he was a well-known ventriloquist at the time, but I wouldn't know because I've always found them to be extremely creepy. He begins telling the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, only in this case it's Mickey and the Beanstalk.

I really liked this second half. Maybe it's because the story was based on an old fairy tale sort of thing, and I do love fairy tales. Mickey, Goofy, and Donald are peasants who live in a beautiful and prosperous valley, and the valley is so wonderful because of a magic harp who sings to the people there. Then one day the harp is stolen and the valley begins to deteriorate. Mickey ends up with some magic beans that grow a beanstalk into the sky, where the giant who stole the harp lives, and the trio sets off to retrieve the harp. (Speaking of Mickey, it's kind of interesting that Walt Disney himself was originally the voice of Mickey, though this film was the last time he provided the voice.)

The live action people (the little girl, the ventriloquist and his dummies) occasionally break into the story, and the dummies interject quite often. I actually thought that was pretty funny. And Donald's breakdown was kind of hilarious, though I don't know if it was meant to be or not. Here's the thing: there is a cow tied outside of the trio's cottage. Donald goes crazy from hunger and decides to kill the cow with an axe that is conveniently displayed on the wall. This is the first time ever that Donald Duck actually has some sense! Mickey and Goofy are all, "No, you can't kill the cow! She's our best friend!" And then Mickey goes and sells the cow to get money for food. Because apparently it's okay to sell your best friend but it's not okay to eat her?? Maybe I'm reading too much into this. :) I know Mickey, Goofy, and Donald are technically "animals," but they talk and are personified, and the cow is not. It's not cannibalism...it's eating meat when you're starving to death. Anyway...:)

I did enjoy Fun and Fancy Free more than the other Disney package films of the 40s, but I'm ready to get back into single story films. As soon as possible. I think there's one more film of shorts to go, and then we'll be getting into the lovely Disney classics of the 50s and 60s. :)

Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your description of Edgar Bergen, the famous ventriloquist! :)


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