- This article is about the animated film. For the main character, see Cinderella (character). For the 2015 live-action film, see Cinderella (2015 movie).
The original theatrical poster
|Directed by:|| Clyde Geronimi|
|Produced by:||Walt Disney|
|Written by:|| Charles Perrault (novel)|
|Music by:|| Paul J. Smith|
|Editing by:||Donald Halliday|
|Studio:||Walt Disney Productions|
|Distributed by:|| Walt Disney Pictures|
RKO Radio Pictures
Buena Vista Distribution
|Release Date(s):||March 4, 1950|
|Running time:||72 minutes|
|Followed by:||Cinderella II: Dreams Come True|
Cinderella is a 1950 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the fairy tale "Cendrillon" by Charles Perrault. Twelfth in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film had a limited release on February 15, 1950 by RKO Radio Pictures. Directing credits go to Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske and Wilfred Jackson. Songs were written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston and Al Hoffman. Songs in the film include "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", "So This is Love", "Sing, Sweet Nightingale ", "The Work Song " and "Cinderella". The film was a massive critical and commercial success upon release and reinvigorated the Disney company when they were nearing bankruptcy.
Made on the cusp between the classic "golden age" Disney animations of the 1930s and 1940s and the less critically acclaimed productions of the 1950s, Cinderella is a representative of both eras.
Cinderella was the first full-bodied feature produced by the studio since Bambi in 1942; World War II and low box office returns had forced Walt Disney to produce a series of inexpensive package films such as Make Mine Music and Fun and Fancy Free for the 1940s. Live action reference was used extensively to keep animation costs down. According to Laryn Dowel, one of the directing animators of the film, roughly 90% of the film was done in live action model before animation, using basic sets as references for actors and animators alike.
Both Helene Stanley (Cinderella's live action model) and Ilene Woods (Cinderella's voice actor, selected from 400 other candidates) heavily influenced Cinderella's styling and mannerisms. Stanley was the live-action model for Anastasia Tremaine as well. She would be so again for Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and Anita Radcliffe in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Animators modeled Prince Charming on actor Jeffery Stone, who also provided some additional voices for the film. Mike Douglas was the Prince's singing voice while William Phepps acted the part.
In earlier drafts of the screenplay, the Prince originally played a larger role and had more character development than what he ultimately received in the final version of the film. In one abandoned opening, the Prince was shown hunting a deer, but at the end of the sequence, it was to be revealed that the Prince and the deer were actually friends playing a game. In an abandoned alternate ending, after the Duke discovered Cinderella's identity, she was shown being brought to the castle to be reintroduced to the Prince, who is surprised to learn that Cinderella was actually a modest servant girl instead of the princess he thought she was, but the Prince's feelings for her were too strong to be bothered by this and he embraced her; the Fairy Godmother was to reappear and restore Cinderella's ball gown for the closing shot. Walt Disney himself reportedly cut the alternate ending because he felt it was overlong and did not give the audience its "pay off", but the scene would later be incorporated in the video game, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
Other deleted material included an abandoned song that was tentatively titled the "Cinderella Work Song", which was part of a fantasy sequence that was set to take place after Lady Tremaine told Cinderella that she could only attend the ball if she finished her chores and found a suitable dress. In this abandoned sequence, Cinderella imagined herself multiplying into an army of maids in order to deal with her massive workload, all the while pondering what the ball itself would be like; the sequence was cut, but the title was applied to the song the mice sing when they work on Cinderella's dress. Additionally, there was a scene that took place after the ball in which Cinderella was seen returning to her home and eavesdropped on her step family, who were ranting about the mystery girl at the ball, and Cinderella was shown to be amused by this because they were talking about her without realizing it. Walt Disney reportedly cut the scene because he thought it made Cinderella look "spiteful" and felt the audience would lose sympathy for her.
For the first time, Walt turned to Tin Pan Alley song writers to write the songs. The music of Tin Pan Alley would later become a recurring theme in Disney animation. Cinderella was the first Disney film to have its songs published and copyrighted by the newly created Walt Disney Music Company. Before movie soundtracks became marketable, movie songs had little residual value to the film studio that owned them and were often sold off to established music companies for sheet music publication.
"Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" became a hit single four times, with notable versions by Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters. Woods beat exactly 309 girls for the part of Cinderella, after some demo recordings of her singing a few of the film's songs were presented to Walt Disney. However, she had no idea she was auditioning for the part until Disney contacted her; she initially made the recordings for a few friends who sent them to Disney without her knowledge. Reportedly, Disney thought Woods had the right "fairy tale" tone to her voice.
Interestingly, almost 30 years before he made "Cinderella" into a feature-length animated film, Walt Disney already made a short film of it as the last of the Laugh-O-Gram series, as a Roaring 20's version. This short is included as an extra on the Cinderella Platinum Edition DVD.
During production, Walt Disney pioneered the use of double tracked vocals for the song "Sing Sweet Nightingale", before it had been used by artists in studio recordings such as The Beatles. When Ilene Woods had completed the days recording of "Sing Sweet Nightingale", Walt listened and asked her if she could sing harmony with herself. She was apprehensive about the idea as it was unheard of; though she ended up singing the double recording, including second and third part harmonies. Ilene Woods reveals the innovation in an interview.
Cinderella is the much-loved only child of a widowed aristocrat. After deciding that his beloved daughter needs a mother's care, Cinderella's father marries Lady Tremaine, a proud woman with two daughters from her first marriage, Drizella and Anastasia, both of whom are just Cinderella's age. Plain and socially awkward, these stepsisters are bitterly envious of the beautiful and charming Cinderella. After the death of Cinderella's father, Lady Tremaine and her daughters take over the estate, and begin to abuse and mistreat Cinderella out of jealousy, and even allow their cat, Lucifer, to torment her. Despite being forced into servitude in her own home, Cinderella remains a kind and gentle woman and befriends the animals living in the barn and many of the mice and birds who live in and around the chateau.
At the royal palace, the King is distressed that his son does not intend to marry. Determined to have grandchildren, the King and the Duke organize a ball for Prince Charming in an effort to enable his son to marry, with every eligible maiden in the kingdom requested to attend. When the invitation to the ball arrives, Cinderella asks her stepmother if she can attend, since she too is an eligible maiden. Lady Tremaine agrees, provided Cinderella finishes her chores. Her animal friends, led by Jaq and Gus, fix a gown that belonged to Cinderella's mother. When Cinderella wears her dress just before departing, Lady Tremaine compliments Cinderella's gown, subtly pointing out the beads and sash. Angered by the apparent theft of the discarded items, the stepsisters destroy the gown, forcing Cinderella to remain behind while her stepfamily leaves for the royal ball.
At the point of giving up her dreams, Cinderella's Fairy Godmother appears and bestows upon Cinderella a silver blue dress with glass slippers, and transforms a pumpkin and various animals into a carriage with horses, a coachman and a footman. Cinderella departs for the ball after the godmother warns her that the spell will break at the stroke of midnight, meaning that her dress and everything else will change back to the way they were. At the ball, the Prince rejects every girl, until he sees Cinderella. The two fall in love and dance alone throughout the castle grounds until the clock starts to chime midnight. Cinderella flees to her coach and away from the castle, inadvertently dropping one of her glass slippers. After the Duke tells the King of the disaster, they plan to find Cinderella with the slipper they recovered during her exit.
The next morning, the King proclaims that the Grand Duke will visit every house in the kingdom to find the girl who fits the glass slipper, so that she can be married to the Prince. When this news reaches Cinderella's household, her stepmother and stepsisters prepare for the Grand Duke's arrival. Cinderella, overhearing the news, begins dreamily humming the song from the palace ball the previous night. Upon realizing that Cinderella is the girl who danced with the Prince, Lady Tremaine locks Cinderella up to her attic bedroom.
When the Grand Duke arrives, the mice steal the key to Cinderella's room, but before they can deliver it they are ambushed by Lucifer. The animals alert Bruno, Cinderella's Bloodhound, who scares Lucifer out of the house. As the Duke prepares to leave after the stepsisters unsuccessfully try on the slipper, Cinderella appears and requests to try it on. Knowing that the slipper will fit, Lady Tremaine trips the footman, causing him to drop the slipper, which shatters into hundreds of pieces. The Duke laments over the broken slipper, but Cinderella then produces the other glass slipper, much to her stepmother's horror. Delighted at this indisputable proof of the maiden's identity, the Duke slides the slipper onto her foot, which fits perfectly. Soon after, Cinderella and the Prince are married, surrounded by confetti tossed by the King, the Grand Duke and the mice.
- Main article: Cinderella (soundtrack)
Release and reception
The film was originally released in theaters on February 15, 1950, followed by theatrical re-releases in 1957, 1965, 1973, 1981 and 1987. Cinderella also played a limited engagement in select Cinemark Theaters from February 16-18, 2013.
Disney had not had a huge hit since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, so the production of this film was regarded as a major gamble on his part. At a cost of nearly $3 million, Disney insiders claimed that if Cinderella failed at the box office, then the Disney studio would have closed (given that the studio was already heavily in debt). The film was a huge box office success and allowed Disney to carry on producing films throughout the 1950s. It was the 5th most popular movie at the British box office in 1951.
Cinderella currently has a score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The overview of the film is, "The rich colors, sweet songs, adorable mice and endearing (if suffering) heroine make Cinderella a nostalgically lovely charmer." The profits from the film's release, with the additional profits from record sales, music publishing, publications and other merchandise gave Disney the cash flow to finance a slate of productions (animated and live action), establish his own distribution company, enter television production and begin building Disneyland during the decade.
Home video releases
- Main article: Cinderella (video)
- Talk show host Mike Douglas was the singing voice of the unnamed Prince (usually just called "Prince Charming") in this film.
- The sequence in which Cinderella's rags turn into a magnificent ball gown, animated by Marc Davis, was Walt Disney's favorite piece of animation ever to come out of the studio. It bears resemblance to the transformation in Enchanted.
- In the CBS television special AFI’s 10 Top 10, the movie was named the 9th Best Animated Feature of all time.
- Not only is the name of the Prince never revealed, he is nowhere in the film mentioned as "Prince Charming".
- Ilene Woods beat exactly 309 girls for the part of Cinderella, after some demo recordings of her singing a few of the film's songs were presented to Walt Disney. However, she had no idea she was auditioning for the part until Disney contacted her; she initially made the recordings for a few friends who sent them to Disney without telling her. In 2003, she was awarded a Disney Legend award for her voicework on the film Cinderella.
- When the film was released on the Platinum Edition DVD, Cinderella's hair was colored yellow blonde instead of strawberry-blonde like it was originally, and her ball dress was recolored blue instead of white, presumably to match the merchandise.
- The unnamed Prince, or Prince Charming was given a name in the ABC fairy tale drama, Once Upon a Time, as Prince Thomas, since the unnamed prince from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had been dubbed Prince Charming in the program.
- When Walt had the resources to return to full-length animation in the late 1940s after the war, he was indecisive over whether they should produce Cinderella or Alice in Wonderland first and finally decided to have two animation crews working on each film compete with each other to see not only which would finish first but also which did the best job.
- Dinah Shore and Deanna Durbin were considered for the role of Cinderella, but after Walt heard demo recordings of the film's score by big band singer Ilene Woods, the relatively unknown Woods (who only had one film credit before this film) was cast in the title role.
- The Prince is usually known as Prince Charming, though some source material shows that his name is Henri, or Henry.
- Cinderella Diamond Edition website
- Cinderella at the Internet Movie Database
- Cinderella at the Big Cartoon DataBase
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