Friday, September 16, 2011

It’s Film Strip Friday! Fun and Fancy Free

It’s Film Strip Friday!

Fun and Fancy Free

Release Date September 27th, 1947


Following Disney's classic tradition of great storytelling, unforgettable characters, music, and adventure, Fun and Fancy Free is the joyful telling of Bongo and Mickey and the Beanstalk, two timeless tales magically brought to life by the beloved Jiminy Cricket and the masterful combination of animation and live action.


Fun and Fancy Free is a 1947 animated feature produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures on September 27, 1947. It was one of the "package films" (feature-length compilations of shorter segments) that the studio produced in the 1940s. It is the ninth animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, and the fifth package film by Disney.

The "Mickey and the Beanstalk" portion of the film was the last time Walt Disney voiced Mickey Mouse as he was too busy working on other projects to continue voicing the famous character. Disney replaced himself with sound effects artist Jimmy MacDonald.

Film Segments:

This film features two segments, Bongo and Mickey and the Beanstalk. Jiminy Cricket first appeared inside a large plant in a large house, exploring it and singing "I'm a Happy-Go-Lucky Fellow", (he also exited it) (The Dr. Seuss Animation Chorus did the back-up singing instead of the Walt Disney Chorus in the 2011 re-release), until he happened to stumble upon a doll, a teddy bear, a record player, and some records, and set it up to play the story of Bongo.


This segment is based on an original story by Sinclair Lewis, following a circus bear cub who wishes to live free in the wild. Bongo escapes and soon realizes through his adventure that he must prove himself in order to earn his freedom. He also forms a romantic relationship with a female bear cub in the wild.

Bongo is narrated by Dinah Shore. However in the re-release of Bongo, Cliff Edwards (as Jiminy Cricket) narrated the story. The 2011 re-release retained Dinah Shore's narration.

Mickey and the Beanstalk:

This segment is an adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy as peasants who discovered temperamental Willie the Giant's castle in the sky through the use of some magic beans.

Mickey and the Beanstalk was narrated by Edgar Bergen in live-action sequences, who, with the help of his ventriloquist's puppets Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, told the tale to child actress Luana Patten at her birthday party.

Mickey, Donald and Goofy lived in a place called "Happy Valley", which was plagued by a severe drought, after a golden harp who sang to make people happy, was stolen from a nearby castle in Happy Valley. The residents had nothing to eat except one loaf of bread; in a memorable scene the bread was cut into paper-thin slices. After Donald attempted to kill their cow with an axe, Mickey traded in their beloved animal for magic beans. Donald threw the beans in a fit of rage, and they fell through a hole in the floor. That night, the beanstalk sprouted and it carried their house upward as it grew. Climbing the gigantic beanstalk they entered a magical kingdom of equal scope, and entering the castle, Mickey, Donald and Goofy helped themselves to a sumptuous feast. This roused the ire of Willie the Giant, who is able to transform himself into anything. When they were spotted by Willie, Mickey spotted a fly-swatter and asked Willie to demonstrate his powers, by turning into a fly. Willie initially suggested turning into a pink bunny, but when he agreed to their request, he turned into a pink bunny anyway, and spotted Mickey, Donald and Goofy with the fly-swatter. Enraged, Willie captured Mickey, Donald, and Goofy and locked them in a box. Mickey however escaped. It was up to Mickey to find the key and rescue them, with the help of the singing golden harp. Once freed, the hapless heroes returned the golden harp to her rightful place and Happy Valley to its former glory, killing the giant by chopping down the beanstalk.


During the 1940s Mickey and the Beanstalk and Bongo were originally going to be developed as two separate feature films.

In the late 1930's Mickey Mouse's popularity was felling behind Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Max Fleischer's Popeye. In order to boost his popularity Walt Disney and his artist created cartoons such as The Brave Little Tailor and The Sorcerer's Apprentice which later became a part of Fantasia. In early 1940 during production on Fantasia animators Bill Cottrell and T. Hee pitched the idea of a feature film based on Jack and the Beanstalk starring Mickey Mouse as Jack and have supporting characters of Donald Duck and Goofy. When they pitched it to Walt he "burst out laughing with tears rolling down his cheeks with joy" as Cottrell and Hee later recalled. Walt enjoyed it so much he invited other employees to listen to it. However he said as much as he enjoyed it, the film would never be put into production because Walt claimed that the audience had certain expectations of Mickey and this was not what the audience would approve of. However Cottrell and Hee were able to talk Walt into it and story development of Mickey and the Beanstalk commenced on May 2, 1940.

The original treatment remained more-or-less the same than what ended up in the final film. However there were a few deleted scenes. For example there was a scene in which Mickey took the cow to market where he meets Honest John and Gideon from Pinocchio who con him into trading his cow for the "magic beans". However after Pinocchio failed at the box-office Honest John and Gideon were cut from the film. The scene was then changed to Mickey giving the cow to the Queen (played by Minnie Mouse) as a gift, and in return she gave him the magic beans that have been in the royal family for generations. This scene was later cut when the story was tightened for Fun and Fancy Free. Walt ultimately found that how Mickey got the beans was not important to the story and in the final film it remains a mystery as to where the beans came from.

Meanwhile, production was starting on Bongo, a film based on the short story written by Sinclair Lewis for a magazine in 1930. It was suggested that Bongo could be a sequel to Dumbo and some of the cast from the 1941 film would appear as supporting characters, however the idea never fully materialized. In earlier drafts Bongo had a Chimpanzee as a friend and partner in his circus act. He was first called Beverly then Chimpy, but was ultimately dropped when condensing the story. Bongo and Chimpy also encountered two mischievous bear cubs that were also deleted. A nearly completed script was delivered on December 8, 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

On that same day the army marched in the studio and took control over all productions. The war also cut off the Disney's foreign release market which was a vital source of income for the studio. Mickey and the Beanstalk and Bongo were put on hold, along with Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Wind in the Willows and Song of the South. During the war the military dictated the Disney studio to mainly produce propaganda films.

During and after the war Walt stopped producing single narrative feature films due to the high costs and decided to "package" animated shorts together to make a feature film, a package film. He did this during the war on Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros and continued doing them after the war until he had enough money to make a single narrative feature again. Make Mine Music in 1946, preceded Fun and Fancy Free. Walt decided that since the running length of Bongo and Mickey and the Beanstalk was under 50 minutes long they would be more convenient as a package film rather than feature films. At first Walt wanted Mickey and the Beanstalk to be paired with Wind in the Willows (which was in production around this event then he added Bongo, finally he cut Wind in the Willows from Fun and Fancy Free (which was titled Three Fabulous Characters at the time) which would appear in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad two years later.

Fun and Fancy Free would also mark the last time Walt Disney performed the voice of Mickey Mouse. Walt's attention was being needed on several different projects and he no longer had time to voice Mickey. For the next 30 years the voice of Mickey was provided by a sound effects artist named Jimmy Macdonald.

Celebrities like Edgar Bergen and Dinah Shore were cast to introduce the segments in order to appeal to a mass audience. Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio was also placed in the scene in which he sings "I'm a Happy Go Lucky Fellow", a song written for and cut out of Pinocchio before its release.

Alternate Versions:

There are three different versions of Mickey and the Beanstalk. There's the original theatrical version, which is part of the Fun and Fancy Free feature, the home video (VHS) version, which is the Ludwig Von Drake version, and an extremely rare TV version narrated by Sterling Holloway. The video and TV releases of Mickey and the Beanstalk have different edits in many parts:

·         In the TV version the opening scene where Happy Valley is shown being developed as a vision is absent.

·         When the giant first kidnaps the harp, the harp is supposed to scream. However, in some VHS releases the scream was edited out.

·         In the TV version the scene where Mickey, Donald and Goofy are walking through the giant's footsteps is edited out.

·         In some VHS releases the dragonfly scene was shortened to the fish eating it.

·         In some VHS releases the clip of Goofy diving into the Gelatin, trying to retrieve his hat, was shortened to him diving into the walnut bowl.

·         The TV version had some additional music added to some parts.

·         In the theatrical version (that's part of the official Fun and Fancy Free), when Willie wakes up from his sleep to chase after Mickey and the others, Luanna says "Oh!". This was edited out of the TV version, but some VHS releases accidentally left it on.

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