Friday, July 22, 2011

Film Strip Friday ~ Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs

It’s Film Strip Friday!

Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs

Release Date February 4th, 1938


From now on every Friday is Film Strip Friday! Every Friday I will share what information I can find out about a Disney film. I will be going in order of release so you can also see the development and growth of the art of animation. I will also share any and all fun trivia I can find out about each movie.


Seven Dwarfs
Snow White is always cheerful and kind, even though her cruel stepmother wishes the innocent maiden ill when the Magic Mirror reveals Snow White to be the fairest in the land. The wicked queen tries to do away with Snow White, but she narrowly escapes through the terrifying forest and finds comfort among the gentle wild creatures that live there. Even after she has found a new home with her new friends, the Seven Dwarfs, her wicked stepmother finds a way to send her into an enchanted sleep. Fortunately, a happy ending is just a kiss away.


Fifty ideas for the dwarves' names and personalities were listed in the film's proposal; the list included all of the names finally included except Dopey and Doc (Dopey being the last to be developed). Some of the dwarves were: Awful, Biggy, Blabby, Dirty, Gabby, Gaspy, Gloomy, Hoppy, Hotsy, Jaunty, Jumpy, Nifty, and Shifty. Sneezy was a last-minute replacement for Jumpy.

Walt Disney saw a silent film version of Snow White, staring Marguerite Clark in February, 1917 when he was 15 years old. This movie was projected on a four-sided screen using four separate projectors. Walt had a seat where he could see two of the screens and it made a huge impression on young Walt because they were slightly out of sync.

Publicity material relates that production employed 32 animators, 102 assistant, 167 "in-betweeners", 20 layout artists, 25 artists doing water color backgrounds, 65 effects animators, and 158 female inkers and painters. 2,000,000 illustrations were made using 1500 shades of paint.

Scenes that were planned, but never fully animated: - The queen holds the prince in the dungeon and uses her magic to make skeletons dance for his amusement. - Fantasy sequence accompanying "Some Day My Prince Will Come" in which Snow White imagines herself dancing with her prince in the clouds beneath a sea of stars - Dwarves building Snow White a coffin with help from woodland creatures. - The song "Music in Your Soup" where the dwarves sing about the soup that Snow White had just made them. - A musical number, "You're Never Too Old to Be Young", featuring the dwarves. It was pre-recorded, but never animated.
Seven Dwarfs
To encourage creativity, Walt Disney instituted his "Five Dollars a Gag" policy. One notable example of this policy is when Ward Kimball suggested that the dwarfs' noses should pop one by one over the foot boards while they were peeking at Snow White.

The Prince was originally a much more major character, but the difficulty found in animating him convincingly forced the animators to reduce his part significantly.

Princess Snow White with Prince
When comedian Billy Gilbert found out that one of the dwarfs' names was Sneezy he called up Walt and gave him his famous sneezing gag and got the part

Dopey initially was to be a talking dwarf, but was made mute when a suitable voice was not found.
At a recording session, Lucille La Verne, the voice of the Wicked Queen, was told by the Disney animators that they needed an older, raspier version of the Queen's voice for the Old Witch. Ms. Laverne stepped out of the recording booth, returned a few minutes later, and gave a perfect "Old Hag's voice" that stunned the animators. When asked how she did it, she replied, "Oh, I just took my teeth out."

Because Disney did not have its own music publishing company when the earlier animated films were produced, all the rights to publish the music and songs from this film are actually still controlled by the Bourne Co. In later years, the Studio was able to acquire back the rights to the music from all of the other films, except this one. Prior to Snow White, a movie soundtrack recording was unheard of and with little value to a movie studio.
Seven Dwarfs
It took animator Wolfgang Reitherman nine tries to get the animation of the Slave in the Magic Mirror just right. He achieved it by folding the paper in half, drawing one half of the face, then turning the paper over and tracing the other half. He was then dismayed when his hard work was obscured by fire, smoke and distortion glass for the film.

For the scene where the dwarves are sent off to wash, animator Frank Thomas had Dopey do a hitch step to catch up to the others, as suggested in the storyboard. Walt Disney liked it so much he had the step added to other scenes - much to the chagrin of the other animators, who blamed Thomas for the extra work they had to do.

Mel Blanc was considered for the voice of Dopey.

The movie was to start with scenes involving Snow White's mother, but they had to be cut to avoid the wrath of the censor.

Marge Champion served as a movement model for Snow White; some of this animation was later reworked for Maid Marion in Disney's Robin Hood (1973).

Some animators were opposed to the name Dopey, claiming that it was too modern a word to use in a timeless fairy tale. Walt Disney made the argument that William Shakespeare used the word in one of his plays. This managed to convince everyone, although any reference to the term "dopey" is yet to be found in any of Shakespeare's work.
Ward Kimball nearly quit after his two main sequences (the dwarfs eating soup and building a bed for Snow White, respectively) were cut. Walt Disney convinced him to stay by giving him the character of Jiminy Cricket in the next feature, Pinocchio (1940).

To give Snow White a more natural look, some of the ink and paint artists started applying their own rouge on her cheeks. When Walt Disney asked one how they would apply the rouge correctly for each cel, she responded, "What do you think we've been doing all our lives?"

In the original fairy tale, the Queen dies when she is forced to dance in burning metal shoes. Disney dropped the idea.

Pinto Colvig, who voiced Sleepy and Grumpy, was the voice of Goofy. He was also one of Disney animators.


Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the first American feature length animated film. During its four year development the film industry called it, “Walt’s folly” believing as nobody would want to see it. Even Walt’s wife, Lillian said, “No one’s gonna pay a dime to see a dwarf movie.” Many people tried to convince Walt the movie would fail.
Christmas Snow White
One of the first films to have related merchandise available at the time of premiere.

Was the first film to ever have a soundtrack recording album released for it. (Just think! They did not consider a movie soundtrack important in 1938!)

The first animated feature to be selected for the National Film Registry.

Was the first of many Disney films to have its premiere engagement at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. At the end of the film's initial engagement there, all the velvet seat upholstery had to be replaced. It seems that young children were so frightened by the sequence of Snow White lost in the forest that they wet their pants, and consequently the seats, at each and every showing of the film.


The "special" Academy Award granted to the picture consisted of one regular sized award and seven smaller sized awards.

Most of the voice actors reprised their roles for an appearance on "The Lux Radio Theater".

25 songs were written for the movie but only eight were used

The British Board of Film Censors (now, the British Board of Film Classification) gave the film an A-certificate upon its original release. This resulted in a nationwide controversy as to whether the enchanted forest and the witch were too frightening for younger audiences. Nevertheless, most local authorities simply overrode the censor's decision and gave the film a U-certificate.

Spoonerizing comedian Joe Twerp was earlier considered for the role of Doc, according to the DVD supplementary material. The part went to Roy Atwell instead, but Twerp did perform as the voice of Doc on the radio.

 Seven Dwarfs

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