Fun And Fancy Free
Two movies for the price of one! Of course, added together they’re only 73 minutes long, but that’s long enough for kids. (It’s a little sobering to realize that I’m not quite two months older than this film.) Both the stories here were in development as early as 1939 to 1941, but you know what happened then. After Tojo’s little surprise party in Hawaii the Disney studios were kept busy with wartime training and propaganda films. Post-War, they had a lot of ideas sitting around half-finished. Both of these were originally intended to be feature-length, but they work well, maybe even better, at the shorter length. On the video I have there is a 20-minute short showing a lot of very interesting information, including recently-discovered footage of Walt recording Mickey’s voice for Mickey and the Beanstalk, along with Billy Gilbert as the giant. I was glad to see Gilbert, because I soon realized he was the apoplectic Professor von Schwarzenhoffen in one of Laurel and Hardy’s best two-reelers: “The Music Box.”
Bongo. About a circus bear who longs for the great outdoors and escapes on his unicycle. The great outdoors is more than he bargained for, but he triumphs in the end. The animation style is simple and boisterous, and the story is good. This story is introduced by Jiminy Cricket, who sings the title song.
Mickey and the Beanstalk. The Mouse is joined by Goofy and Donald in a re-telling of the old fairy tale. The magic Singing Harp has been stolen from Happy Valley, which has thus fallen on hard times, and starvation. There’s some very good stuff here, including Mickey slicing a piece of bread so thin you can see through it, and the amazing growth of the beanstalk, lifting the house and three heroes into the air. In the extra material I learned what happened in an obviously missing scene, when Mickey takes the cow to town to trade it for food, and comes back with a handful of beans. He is taken before the Queen, who turns out to be Minnie Mouse, and she buys the cow. We see the storyboards that were drawn up. Fascinating stuff. In the end, they realized the scene wasn’t needed—all we really needed to know was that Mickey apparently got scammed—so in the interest of shortening the story the scene was never animated. This segment is hosted by Edgar Bergen, the radio ventriloquist, who seems to be throwing a very small party for Luana Patten, aided by Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. For once the dummies move and speak without sitting on Bergen’s lap, but his lips still move.