(supervising directors: Hamilton Luske & Ben Sharpsteen; screenwriters: Ted Sears, Webb Smith, Joseph Sabo, Otto Englander, William Cottrell, Erdman Penner and Aurelius Battaglia; story adaptation: Aurelius Battaglia, William Cottrell, Otto Englander, Erdman Penner, Joseph Sabo, Ted Sears & Webb Smith/based on the Novel by Carlo Collodi; animation directors: Arthur Babbitt, Fred Moore, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, Woolie Reitherman, Milton Stahl, Franklin Thomas & Vladimir Tytla; art direction: Kenneth Anderson, Hugh Hennesy, John Hubley, Dick Kelsey, Kendall O’Connor, Charles Philippi, McLaren Stewart, Thor Putnam, Terrell Stapp & Al Zinnen; music: Leigh Harline, Ned Washington and Paul J. Smith; cast: Voices: Dickie Jones (Pinocchio), Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket), Christian Rubb (Geppetto), Evelyn Venable (Blue Fairy), Mel Blanc (Cleo/Figaro/Gideon), Walter Catlett (Honest John/J. Worthington Foulfellow), Frankie Darro (Lampwick), Charles Judels (Stromboli/The Coachman); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Walt Disney; Walt Disney Home Video; 1940)
“Can be enjoyed by both the young and old for its fine detailed craftsmanship and pleasing fairytale story.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Disney’s second cartoon, after the 1937 “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” is a terrific piece of animation that can be enjoyed by both the young and old for its fine detailed craftsmanship and pleasing fairytale story.
The bubbly and impish Jiminy Cricket sneaks into the warm household of a kindly woodcarver named Geppetto, and admires his musical clocks, toys and wooden boy puppet he names Pinocchio. The bachelor lives comfortably with his cute goldfish Cleo and fun-loving kitten Figaro. Geppetto is so pleased with his puppet, that when he retires for the night and observes the first star, he wishes that the puppet would be a real boy. That same night the Blue Fairy comes into his workshop and passes her magic wand over the puppet and brings him to life. She tells Pinocchio that to be a real boy he must possess the following virtues: bravery, honesty and be unselfish. To help the naive boy choose between right and wrong, she appoints Jiminy to be Pinocchio’s conscience. Pinocchio’s misadventures start when his father sends him off to school and the lad meets troublemakers who take advantage of his gullibility. Honest John and his partner seduce him to be an actor and sell him to a greedy and mean-spirited traveling circus showman named Stromboli, who locks him in a birdcage and forces him to leave home to perform. After his escape, the Blue Fairy questions him and when he lies why he didn’t go to school, his nose grows longer. Heading to school again, the same two villains tempt Pinocchio with a day of fun and sell him to an evil coachman. The coachman takes a bunch of captured truant boys and promises them a day of unsupervised fun at Pleasure Island, where they shoot pool and smoke cigars. At night, the coachman transforms them into donkeys and sells them for slave labor. Pinocchio escapes, and this time begins to learn to listen to his conscience. Upon his return home, he finds Geppetto and the pets missing and learns that while searching for him, even in the sea, a giant whale called Monstro swallowed them. It concludes with Pinocchio’s valiant rescue of his family.
The animations are stunning, while the story had reminders of a Dickens-like Victorian children’s tale. The wonderfulvirtues of the Disney production still hold up, even after some 65 years. It’s based on the imaginings of the 19th century Italian author Carlo Collodi.
REVIEWED ON 6/27/2007 GRADE: A