Ben Sharpsteen Reviews

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Pinocchio (1940) (With Bonus Content)

Review Along with Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, the anthology set contains a third disc that examines a segment of both movies in detail. Each segment has an introduction that has experts (including Leonard Maltin), producer Roy E. Disney, or the
Bambi (1942) (With Bonus Content)

Review Along with Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, the anthology set contains a third disc that examines a segment of both movies in detail. Each segment has an introduction that has experts (including Leonard Maltin), producer Roy E. Disney, or the animators setting up the piece's history. Notes on the music and dozens of design photos are included on all the segments, although others offer more intriguing features. Abandoned animation is shown on many segments, as are a few behind-the-scenes shorts; the most intriguing are experts from Walt Disney's hosted documentaries on how his company made movies. As for the photos, they are awkwardly catalogued and only the most patient of viewers would want to look at all of them. In some segments, though, these images are entertainingly produced as a "story reel," presenting these images--rough animation, sketches, pastel paintings--with the musical accompaniment. For those looking for a more well-rounded view of the films, the two one-hour documentaries on each film's disc lay the groundwork, but none of the anthology looks at how the first film was seen through the years or gives time to anyone who wasn't gung-ho about every element of the films. There is hardly a mention of embarrassing stereotypes that were matted (and still are) out of the "Pastoral" segment, or the intriguing aspect of the film as a '60s icon for the ultimate head-trip. Disney does let their guard down to show sequences that were being readied in 1940 for future editions (including a recently restored short scored to "Clair de Lune"). Most tantalizing is a look at how the special effects were done in the original film. The guide is a scrapbook that one of the technicians kept and was discovered only in 1990. Fans can only hope a reproduction will be made available someday. --Doug Thomas
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Plus Bonus Features)

Review Join your favorite Disney pals as they celebrate some of Goofy's funniest moments in this sidesplitting collection of cartoon treasures. Goofy's out of the doghouse and starring in his own collection of seven short films. It's time for fun at work with Donald and Mickey in "Clock Cleaners." Then, in "Father's Week-End," keeping an eye on Junior makes for a nonstop day of so-called rest. Hang on for hilarity when Goofy gets a boat in "Aquamania" and more!
Dumbo

Review Mickey's faithful friend Pluto is unleashed in this first volume of the celebrated canine's cartoon capers. Spanning the years 1930 to 1947, these 29 classic shorts include Pluto's 1930 debut in "The Chain Gang" -- which was actually his first and second appearance playing unnamed, identical bloodhounds -- and the 1941 Academy Award(R)-winning short "Lend A Paw." The tales continue with a special "dogumentary" focusing on the birth and evolution of everybody's best friend, an excerpt from the TV program "A Story Of Dogs," a look back at the life of Pluto's father, animator Norman "Fergy" Ferguson, and more. It's no wonder Pluto's star rose faster than his temper.
Alice In Wonderland

Review Mickey's pal Pluto developed from the pair of bloodhounds in "The Chain Gang" (1930). Walt Disney liked animator Norm Ferguson's handling of the dogs' expressions, so the artists continued to work with the character. Ferguson's breakthrough animation of the flypaper sequence in "Playful Pluto" (1934), available on Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White, Vol. 2, showed that the cartoon character could think and react to a situation through pantomime. Many cartoons follow the pattern of "Playful Pluto": the ochre dog tries to cope with either a recalcitrant object--skates in "On Ice," an inflatable rubber horse in "Beach Picnic"--or a cute but troublesome animal: a seal in "Pluto's Playmate," a gopher in "Canine Caddy" and the title character in "Pluto and the Armadillo."

Pluto's quick temper and willingness to rush in where pedigrees fear to tread made him a popular subject for cartoons (and military insignias) during World War II. In "First Aiders," Pluto serves as a reluctant subject when Minnie practices splinting and bandaging. Eager to do his bit, he serves as a military watch dog in "Private Pluto," "Dog Watch," and "Canine Patrol." In several of these cartoons, Mickey is reduced to playing straight man to Pluto, who gets the laughs. Pluto is pitted against a black housekeeper, reminiscent of Mammy Two-Shoes in the Tom and Jerry cartoons in "Pantry Pirate"--a rare example of ethnic stereotyping in a Disney short. (Unrated, suitable for ages 5 and older: cartoon violence, occasional ethnic stereotypes) --Charles Solomon


The Lion King: The Walt Disney Signature Collection (With Bonus Content)

Review Walt Disney was supreme at creating the kind of fun that the whole world could appreciate and this fourth volume featuring Mickey Mouse and other memorable Disney characters includes The Reluctant Dragon (1941), The Goddess of Spring (1934), The Little House (1952), For Whom The Bulls Toil (1953) and Polar Trappers (1938). Color/54 min/NR/fullscreen.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)(Plus Bonus Features)

Review Along with Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, the anthology set contains a third disc that examines a segment of both movies in detail. Each segment has an introduction that has experts (including Leonard Maltin), producer Roy E. Disney, or the
The Sword in the Stone

Review Along with Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, the anthology set contains a third disc that examines a segment of both movies in detail. Each segment has an introduction that has experts (including Leonard Maltin), producer Roy E. Disney, or the animators setting up the piece's history. Notes on the music and dozens of design photos are included on all the segments, although others offer more intriguing features. Abandoned animation is shown on many segments, as are a few behind-the-scenes shorts; the most intriguing are experts from Walt Disney's hosted documentaries on how his company made movies. As for the photos, they are awkwardly catalogued and only the most patient of viewers would want to look at all of them. In some segments, though, these images are entertainingly produced as a "story reel," presenting these images--rough animation, sketches, pastel paintings--with the musical accompaniment. For those looking for a more well-rounded view of the films, the two one-hour documentaries on each film's disc lay the groundwork, but none of the anthology looks at how the first film was seen through the years or gives time to anyone who wasn't gung-ho about every element of the films. There is hardly a mention of embarrassing stereotypes that were matted (and still are) out of the "Pastoral" segment, or the intriguing aspect of the film as a '60s icon for the ultimate head-trip. Disney does let their guard down to show sequences that were being readied in 1940 for future editions (including a recently restored short scored to "Clair de Lune"). Most tantalizing is a look at how the special effects were done in the original film. The guide is a scrapbook that one of the technicians kept and was discovered only in 1990. Fans can only hope a reproduction will be made available someday. --Doug Thomas
Robin Hood

Review Join your favorite Disney pals as they celebrate some of Goofy's funniest moments in this sidesplitting collection of cartoon treasures. Goofy's out of the doghouse and starring in his own collection of seven short films. It's time for fun at work with Donald and Mickey in "Clock Cleaners." Then, in "Father's Week-End," keeping an eye on Junior makes for a nonstop day of so-called rest. Hang on for hilarity when Goofy gets a boat in "Aquamania" and more!
Aladdin (Plus Bonus Features)

Review Mickey's faithful friend Pluto is unleashed in this first volume of the celebrated canine's cartoon capers. Spanning the years 1930 to 1947, these 29 classic shorts include Pluto's 1930 debut in "The Chain Gang" -- which was actually his first and second appearance playing unnamed, identical bloodhounds -- and the 1941 Academy Award(R)-winning short "Lend A Paw." The tales continue with a special "dogumentary" focusing on the birth and evolution of everybody's best friend, an excerpt from the TV program "A Story Of Dogs," a look back at the life of Pluto's father, animator Norman "Fergy" Ferguson, and more. It's no wonder Pluto's star rose faster than his temper.
The Fox And The Hound

Review Mickey's pal Pluto developed from the pair of bloodhounds in "The Chain Gang" (1930). Walt Disney liked animator Norm Ferguson's handling of the dogs' expressions, so the artists continued to work with the character. Ferguson's breakthrough animation of the flypaper sequence in "Playful Pluto" (1934), available on Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White, Vol. 2, showed that the cartoon character could think and react to a situation through pantomime. Many cartoons follow the pattern of "Playful Pluto": the ochre dog tries to cope with either a recalcitrant object--skates in "On Ice," an inflatable rubber horse in "Beach Picnic"--or a cute but troublesome animal: a seal in "Pluto's Playmate," a gopher in "Canine Caddy" and the title character in "Pluto and the Armadillo."

Pluto's quick temper and willingness to rush in where pedigrees fear to tread made him a popular subject for cartoons (and military insignias) during World War II. In "First Aiders," Pluto serves as a reluctant subject when Minnie practices splinting and bandaging. Eager to do his bit, he serves as a military watch dog in "Private Pluto," "Dog Watch," and "Canine Patrol." In several of these cartoons, Mickey is reduced to playing straight man to Pluto, who gets the laughs. Pluto is pitted against a black housekeeper, reminiscent of Mammy Two-Shoes in the Tom and Jerry cartoons in "Pantry Pirate"--a rare example of ethnic stereotyping in a Disney short. (Unrated, suitable for ages 5 and older: cartoon violence, occasional ethnic stereotypes) --Charles Solomon


Pinocchio (1940) (Theatrical Version)

Review Walt Disney was supreme at creating the kind of fun that the whole world could appreciate and this fourth volume featuring Mickey Mouse and other memorable Disney characters includes The Reluctant Dragon (1941), The Goddess of Spring (1934), The Little House (1952), For Whom The Bulls Toil (1953) and Polar Trappers (1938). Color/54 min/NR/fullscreen.

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