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Pinocchio Movie Review

voice fairy puppet walt

1940 – Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske –

Audiences were surprised when Walt Disney did not follow the smashing success of Snow White with another romantic fairy tale. But for his second feature-length animated film, Walt didn't want more of the same—he broke ground again by choosing the classic Italian tale by Carlo Collodi of the puppet who wanted to become a real boy. Pinocchio is hardly a lovable hero; he is as wooden-headed in judgment as he is in body. He has every possible advantage—a father who loves him, the care of the Blue Fairy, a friendly cricket as his best friend and mentor. Yet he blows one chance after another, running off to join the puppet show where he is imprisoned by the evil Stromboli and escaping only to buy a ticket to Pleasure Island. Pleasure Island is the thing of every child's nightmares: an amusement park that turns sinister, transforming children into donkeys who will never see their parents again.

However, Pinocchio redeems himself by growing an unselfish heart. He seeks his father Geppetto in the dark belly of the whale Monstro and sacrifices himself to get his father safely to shore. Once again, the Blue Fairy intervenes, and this time the puppet is a real boy. A happy ending combined with one of the greatest American songs, “When You Wish Upon a Star” guarantees a pleased audience.

Visually, the film is an eyeful, too. Disney lavished great care on backgrounds like the toy shop and Pleasure Island, on extensive detailing of movement like bubbles and waves beneath the sea, and on wonderfully sinister characters like Stromboli, Honest John, and Monstro. Songs like “An Actor's Life For Me” are so engaging that we are tempted to forget school and our conscience and run off to the theater too. Animation of small gestures makes the film a masterpiece as well: the antics of the goldfish Cleo, Jiminy Cricket warming his backside at Geppetto's hearth, and Pinocchio lying and watching astonished as his nose grows and sprouts flowers and birds' nests. Pinocchio showed, and still shows, the world what animation can accomplish as a visual and narrative form.

Cast: Dick Jones (voice of Pinocchio), Christian Rub (voice of Geppetto), Cliff Edwards (voice of Jiminy Cricket), Evelyn Venable (voice of the Blue Fairy), Walter Catlett (voice of Honest John), Mel Blanc (voice of Gideon), Charles Judels (voice of Stromboli and the Coachman), Frankie Darro (voice of Lampwick) Screenwriter: Ted Sears, William Cottrell, Webb Smith, Otto Englander Composer: Paul J. Smith, Leigh Harline Producer: Walt Disney Running Time: 88 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1940: Score, Song (“When You Wish Upon a Star”).

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