Friday, August 12, 2011


It’s Film Strip Friday!


Release Date October, 23rd, 1941



Lovable little Dumbo's mother thinks he's the most perfect baby elephant ever, but the rest of the circus herd can't get over mocking his oversized ears. When Dumbo's mother is locked up for trying to defend her baby, the little elephant is left at the mercy of the mean elephants and the uncaring circus crew, who make him into a clown. It's up to tiny ringmaster pal Timothy Mouse, a pack of wise-talking crows, and a "magic" feather to show Dumbo that his ears, which make him different, can also make him shine.


       The main lesson Dumbo teaches is don’t judge people by their looks.

This movie has been called racist due to how “black” the crows behave. If you really look at it the Jim Crow and his band of wisecracking “black birds” were truly the wisest and kindest group in the movie. It did show the segregation of society at that time, but neither approved nor disapproved of the cultural norm of the day. In fact it shows the two “social levels” reaching out to each other.

       I feel it is good to allow children to see this so we can show them how it use to be and how far we have come when it comes to bigotry and socially accepted divisions between social groups.


The only Disney animated feature film that has a title character who doesn't speak.

A very tightly budgeted, scripted, and produced film, because Walt Disney needed the film to bring in much-needed revenue after the expensive failures of Pinocchio (1940) and Fantasia (1940). Final negative cost of Dumbo was $813,000 (making it the least expensive of all Disney's animated features), and it grossed over $2.5 million in its original release (more than Pinocchio (1940)'s and Fantasia (1940)'s original grosses combined).

This film and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) are the only classic Disney films to use watercolored backgrounds (they were used in this film because they were cheaper than the gouache and oils used for Pinocchio (1940) and Bambi (1942)) and the last time they were used until Fantasia/2000 (1999).

In December 1941, Time magazine planned to have Dumbo on its cover to commemorate its success, but it was dropped due to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Initially Walt Disney was uninterested in making this movie. To get him interested, story men Joe Grant and Dick Huemer wrote up the film as installments which they left on Walt's desk every morning. Finally, he ran into the story department saying, "This is great! What happens next?"

The first Disney movie for Sterling Holloway (the Stork) and Verna Felton (the Elephant Matriarch). Both would become regulars in Disney animated films for the next thirty-five years.

According to some sources this was Walt Disney's favorite film made by his studios.

During production there was a long and bitter animators strike, in which half of the studio's staff walked out. Some of the strikers are caricatured as the clowns who go to "hit the big boss for a raise".

While trying to comfort Dumbo, Timothy says: "Lots of people with big ears are famous!". That's a joke with Walt Disney himself, who did have big ears. The line also refers to Clark Gable, renowned for his charming looks and large ears.

Mrs Jumbo (Dumbo's mother) only speaks once when she says Dumbo's original name.

The name of the circus (seen on a sign as the train leaves the winter headquarters) is WDP Circus (Walt Disney Productions).

Cels for Dumbo (1941) are the rarest in the industry. The animators, after the scene was safely "in the can", would strew the used cels in the corridors and go sliding on them. In addition the gray paint (used for so many of the elephant skins) would "pop" when the cel was flexed. Many irreplaceable cels were destroyed this way.

Walt Disney's distributor, RKO Radio Pictures, had qualms about releasing this 64-minute feature as a major motion picture. They tried to persuade Disney to either cut it to short-subject length, extend it to at least 70 minutes, or have it released as a B picture. Disney stood his ground, and the film was released as an A picture as Disney intended.

When the drunken Timothy is sliding down the staircase-shaped bubble Dumbo has blown, his laugh is actually that of Mickey Mouse. Also, when Timothy coughs on Jim Crow's cigar smoke, that cough is also that of Mickey (it was specifically heard in Two-Gun Mickey (1934).

When Jim Crow plucks the "magic" feather off of the little crow's tail, the crow's yell is actually a snippet of dialogue from The Reluctant Dragon (1941). The full line is the dragon saying "Well, that's splendid!"

This was the first Walt Disney Animated Classic released on videocassette. Its first video release was in 1981 for rental only, and put on sale in the summer of 1982. And it was repackaged in 1985 and 1989 and then 1994 and 2001, and the new release in 2006. Dumbo has never went out of print. The longest Disney animated feature on video to be in print since it came out.

The film was originally planned as a 30-minute featurette before Walt Disney assigned one of his producers, Ben Sharpsteen, to expand the idea into a feature.

According to animation historian John Canemaker on the 2001 DVD release commentary, Timothy's line, "Lots of people with big ears are famous," was recognized by audiences of 1941 as a reference to Clark Gable. The line was also featured in the original theatrical trailer.

There's a reference to "The Little Engine That Could". While Casey Jr. is trying to get up a hill, the train sounds like it's talking. It says "I think I can, I think I can." Then when the train gets up the hill and starts going faster, it changes to, "I thought I could, I thought I could."

The shadow that Timothy Mouse casts on the ringmaster shortly before he turns himself into a ghost is taken from that of the vampire from Nosferatu, a 1922 German Expressionist film.


Despite the advent of World War II, Dumbo was still the most financially successful Disney film of the 1940s. This was one of the first of Disney's animated films to be broadcast, albeit severely edited, on television, as part of Disney's anthology series. The film then received another distinction of note in 1981, when it was the first of Disney's canon of animated films\ to be released on home video.


After its October 23 release, Dumbo proved to be a financial miracle compared to other Disney films. The simple film only cost $813,000 to produce, half the cost of Snow White, less than a third of the cost of Pinocchio, and certainly less than the expensive Fantasia. Dumbo eventually grossed $1.6 million during its original release; it and Snow White were the only two pre-1943 Disney features to turn a profit. It was intended for Dumbo to be on the cover of the December 1941 issue of Time, but the idea was dropped when the Japenese bombed Peral Harbor, resulting in the United States entering World War II and reducing the box office draw of the film.

The critical reactions to Dumbo were positive, as many critics of the day felt that Dumbo was a return to roots for Disney after growing increasingly "arty" with Fantasia.

Dumbo won the 1941 Academy Award for Original Music Score, awarded to musical directors Frank Churchill and Oliver Wallace. Churchill and lyricist Ned Washington were also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song for "Baby Mine" (the song that plays during Dumbo's visit to his mother's cell), but did not win for this category. The film also won Best Animation Design at the 1947 Cannes Film Festival and holds a 97% at movie aggreator Rotten Tomatoes. Reviews for the film were generally positive and the film did well at the box office despite being released less than two months before the US entered World War II. The film was re-released in theaters in 1949, 1959, 1972, and 1976.

Now considered a Disney classic (movie critic Leonard Maltin described it as "One of Walt Disney's most charming animated films"),[10] it has received a Special Edition 60th Anniversary Disney DVD on October 23, 2001, exactly 60 years after its first release. That release featured a sneak peek of a direct-to-video sequel, Dumbo II. The preview showed sketches and storyboard ideas. The main story has to do with Dumbo and his new friends getting separated from the rest of the circus as they wander into the big city. Dumbo's new friends are Claude and Lolly the twin bears who leave chaos everywhere they go, Dot the curious zebra, Godfrey the hippo who is older and wants to do things for himself, and Penny the adventurous ostrich. Timothy returns as well. The story was supposed to be set on the day immediately following the end of the first Dumbo story. However, no further announcements have been made since. The project seems to have been canceled, as The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, Tinker Bell, and its sequels were the last projects for DisneyToon Studios. However, some of the backgrounds for the canceled sequel were recycled for The Fox and the Hound 2.


Best Original Song
(For the song "Baby Mine")
Best Animation Design

A lot of the information is from and

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