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Dumbo (1941)
Topic Started: Mar 17 2006, 09:59 AM (968 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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Okay, THIS one has me puzzled.

In 2001, Disney released a "60th Anniversary" edition of Dumbo on DVD. It looked terrific, and boasted a nice number of extras, including remixed 5.1 soundtrack, Walt Disney's TV introduction, feature-length commentary, a featurette on the making of the film, two bonus animated shorts, a Michael Crawford video of "Baby Mine", and a whole lot of other stuff.

The DVD is out of print, but easy to find.

In June, Disney is re-releasing Dumbo as a "Big Top Edition" that will have FEWER special features, although Disney boasts that the film will have an "improved" digital transfer. But if that's true, why not wait and release it on Blu-Ray DVD next year? This makes no sense, except to try 'n' wring a few extra bucks out of people. Or am I too cynical?

By the way, as long as we're on the subject, note that The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh DVD has gone out of print.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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rodney
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When Disney is concerned, it's impossible to be overly cynical.
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greenhornet1
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I really hate this movie.
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panzer the great & terrible
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Really? It's my favorite Disney picture by a mile.
Life is just a bowl of cherries, it's too mysterious, don't take it serious...
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Laughing Gravy
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It's one of my faves, too. (My #1 fave is Snow White.) What don't you like about it?!?!?
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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KanSmiley
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I wouldn't say I hate DUMBO but it is not a Disney movie I want to see over and over.
Kan
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intoxicated, adj.: When you feel sophisticated without being able to pronounce it.
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greenhornet1
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When I was a kid I loved "Song of the South," and I think it still remains my favorite. Yes, I have copies. I don't buy the idea that it's offensive, but I'm not pc that anyone would notice. It does a great job with the Joel Chandler Harris stories, and James Basket does a great job with Uncle Remus -- a year earlier he was laboring in the serial "Jungle Queen" as Jim Basquette. The animation is perfect, and the live action/animation mix is groundbreaking. The story of the children is heartwarming and if the antebellum south is too "ideal", so be it. "Dumbo" I think is more racist than this film. There's a meanness to "Dumbo" that crops up in the Disney films that make it hard for me to like many of them; "Snow White" is an amazing film, no doubt, and is probably the best of them all. I have a fondness for "Bambi" and "Lady and the Tramp" that defies my own understanding. The nature films, especially "The Vanishing Prairie", are very good, despite the occasional cuteness. "Nature's Half Acre" is excellent of the shorter films. "Fantasia", despite the hippos, is quite something. But for good or ill, I have them all, even "Dumbo."
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Laughing Gravy
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I have nearly all of them, having skipped the three animated features I consider the worst, Robin Hood, Oliver & Co., and Hunchback of Notre Dame. I have the fourth worst, which may be the weakest of all, Home on the Range, only because I'd bought it before I'd seen it. Never finished it. Today Chicken Little goes on sale, and I'll be skipping that one, too.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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panzer the great & terrible
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Walt Kelly, the genius who later created Pogo, was responsible for the crow sequence in DUMBO. I don't buy the idea that those minstrel-derived characters were racist in intent or fact in their day, so I don't see meanness in them. If someone (say the Wayans brothers) were to use minstrel stereotypes today, I would (and do) find that offensive. It also offends me when they edit the cook out of Tom and Jerry when she doesn't talk like an urban professor. Rural accents and phraseology are survivals of speech habits from Africa and from English as she was once spoken. Far from being a source of shame, to be swept under the rug, such locutions should be treasured -- like the crows in DUMBO.
Life is just a bowl of cherries, it's too mysterious, don't take it serious...
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mort bakaprevski
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Quote:
 
"Dumbo" I think is more racist than this film.

I'm curious, Harrnet (isn't that what Axford used to call him?). Was it just the crow sequence you found racist?? Or, were there other instances.

Granted, the crow portion was a bit embarassing (even back then), BUT the music (by the Hall Johnson Choir) was absolutely marvelous and it's really the only scene I remember fondly from the picture!!! I may just buy the DVD for this portion alone!
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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Bonga
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I love Dumbo more each time I see it. I think it is the most emotionally pure of the Disney features. I love the score and the animation, the tent raising sequence, the Casey Jr. song, the crow number, the stork delivery--it's all fabulous. I love the fact that Dumbo never speaks. Nor does his mother. And Timothy is never named until the final frame. It is short and sweet, and I can't think of another Disney--I guess the possible exception is Pinocchio--which I am happier to see again. And not racist. Or at least, I don't see it if it is; I guess someone would have to explain how. I think it's a great film.
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greenhornet1
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The whole story treatment of Dumbo and his ears I find more than distasteful. The ostracism of the little elephant and his mother is beyond cruelty. Perhaps "racist" is the wrong word; certainly the crows are beyond "dialect." I just watched SONG OF THE SOUTH again; the Joel Chandler Harris characters are dialect characters but are not racist. If you want to hear the Hall Johnson choir, listen to them in this film (and many many other Hollywood films) but never better than in SOTS, uncredited. Back to DUMBO. After all the sheer torture this little creature goes through, we are supposed to feel that everything is just fine at the end, but the film is too heavily front-loaded; it's sadistic. The crows only add to the distasteful nature of the film. "But that's only my opinion, I could be wrong."
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rodney
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When I was a kid, I had round cheeks and a big head, and was mercilessly made fun of at school. While I always found Dumbo to be a very sad movie, I always appreciated it.
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JazzGuyy
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Dumbo is my all-time favorite Disney film. Perfect story with great characterization. Yes, it's cruel in parts because it has to be to make the triumph of the underdog be even more triumphal. As to the crows, they are not minstrel-derived. Rather they are jive-talking crows, more akin to the zoot-suiters and owing a lot to Fats Waller and Cab Calloway. Yes, they need to be placed in context but they are, to me, not nearly as racist as the "happy darkie" of Song of the South whose only purpose in life seems to be to make white children happy.
TANSTAAFL!
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Laughing Gravy
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Dumbo (1941) Supervising Dir. Ben Sharpsteen
A Walt Disney Production distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
64 min. / Technicolor / 1.37:1

The Wonderful World of Walt Disney #05

A young circus elephant's giant ears make him the butt of jokes and is ostracized by the other elephants (except his mom, naturally) - the circus makes him a CLOWN! - but with the help of his buddy, a mouse, does HE get the last laugh from up high.

Disney once remarked that Dumbo was his favorite of his own animated features; it was a short, happy creation (while some of his pictures took several years to complete, this took less than two years from purchase of the story until it was in theatres) and the last Disney film made before the five-month strike that tore the studio apart. Perhaps even more importantly, it was the first Disney film since Snow White to make money, and it made a LOT, enough to keep them going while the finished the several-years-in-production Bambi.

Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl had written the original story in only eight pages for a new device called a Roll-a-Book, which worked by dial rather than turning the pages. Dunno what Uncle Walt thought of the new invention, but he loved the story, changed Dumbo's best friend from a bird to a mouse, and set loose everybody in the studio who wasn't tied up with Bambi. The result is short, simple, colorful, cartoony, and one of Disney's greatest successes and most beloved films, including by me. Dumbo is a silent character, but his mouse pal is voiced by, of all people, Edward Brophy(!), Cliff Edwards is the head crow, and Sterling Holloway is Mr. Stork.

The film won an Oscar for its score and was nominated for "Baby Mine", but the song everybody remembers is "When I've seen an Elephant Fly," sung by a murder of crows who are not particularly, despite what you might've heard or remember, depicted with racial insensitivity. And of course the film's most celebrated sequence involves a surrealistic dance party with pink elephants in the sky, one of the (if not THE) greatest segments Disney's studio ever concocted.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Supportive pep talk from Mr. Mouse: "Y'know, LOTSA people with big ears are famous!"

Delightful, charming, tuneful, beautifully rendered... I love this one. The Blu-ray is great, includes a ton of bonus material, including two deleted sequences, a 30 min. documentary on the making of the film, and two bonus Silly Symphones: Elmer the Elephant and a personal favorite, The Flying Mouse. Super-enjoyable disc.

"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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