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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
Cast:
Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Claire Du Brey, Rhoda Williams, James MacDonald, Luis Van Rooten, Don Barclay
Writing Credits:
Ken Anderson, Homer Brightman, Winston Hibler, Bill Peet, Erdman Penner, Charles Perrault (story, "Cendrillon"), Harry Reeves, Joe Rinaldi, Ted Sears

Synopsis:
Walt Disney's Cinderella, based on the world's greatest fairy tale, has captivated audiences for generations with its spellbinding story, memorable music, spectacular animation, and unforgettable characters. Now, with an all-new digital restoration, Cinderella sparkles like never before.

With a wave of her wand and some "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo," Cinderella's Fairy Godmother transforms an ordinary pumpkin into a magnificent coach and Cinderella's rags into a gorgeous gown, then sends her off to the Royal Ball. But Cinderella's enchanted evening must end when the spell is broken at midnight. It will take the help of her daring animal friends Jaq and Gus and a perfect fit into a glass slipper to create the ultimate fairy tale ending. Experience the magic in this special edition of Cinderella and you, too, will believe that dreams really do come true.

Box Office:
Budget
$2.9 million.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Monaural
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 76 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 10/2/2012

Bonus:
• “Personalized Digital Storybook”
• “The Real Fairy Godmother” Featurette
• “Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland” Featurette
• “The Magic of the Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story” Featurette
• Alternate Opening Sequence
• “Tangled Ever After” Animated Short
• Deleted Scenes
• “Cinderella and Perry Como” Clip
• “Cinderella” Title Song Demo
• Unused Songs
• Radio Programs
• “From Rags to Riches: The Making of Cinderella
• “The Cinderella That Almost Was”
• “From Walt’s Table: A Tribute to Disney’s Nine Old Men”
• “The Art of Mary Blair”
• Storyboard to Film Comparison
• 1922 Cinderella Laugh-O-Gram
• Excerpt from 1/24/56 Mickey Mouse Club
• Trailers and Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Cinderella [Blu-Ray] (1950)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 26, 2012)

From 1937 to 1942, Walt Disney’s animation studios cranked out one classic after another. In that span, they made Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi. Some are better than others, of course, but each maintains a place among the roster of the all-time great animated flicks.

So what did Disney do for an encore? Not much. Hamstrung by World War II and other factors, Disney needed to cut back their operations, so eight years passed before they made a true feature film. Oh sure – they put out feature-length offerings in that time, but none of them maintained a single storyline ala four of the five classics I mentioned.

Instead, Disney relied on compilations, musical sketches and extended shorts to make up hodge-podge films like Saludos Amigos, Make Mine Music and Fun and Fancy Free. These pieces were often entertaining in their own right, but they didn’t compare with the artistry and splendor of their predecessors.

Disney finally returned to form in 1950 with Cinderella. A film that echoed the fairy tale structure of Snow White, it reminded audiences of what Disney could do with the needed time and money. It also launched a second “Golden Age” of Disney animation, as the studio would crank out many a great film over the following decade or so.

We meet young adult Cinderella (voiced by Ilene Woods), a lovely and cheerful babe who lives with her unpleasant stepmother Lady Tremaine (Eleanor Audley) and selfish, ugly stepsisters Anastasia (Lucille Bliss) and Drizella (Rhoda Williams). They make her submit to their every whim, though the ever-cheerful Cindy maintains a good attitude and makes friends with the local animals.

She mainly parties with the mice, and the flick introduces a new rodent to the gang: a portly specimen she dubs Gus (James McDonald). He pals around with established mouse Jaq (McDonald) and the pair become Cindy’s right-hand vermin.

She’ll need them when her stepmom turns even nastier than usual. The King (Luis Van Rooten) decides to throw a homecoming party for his son the Prince (William Phipps). However, the King has an ulterior motive: he craves grandkids, so he orders every eligible female in the realm to attend in the hopes that one will entice the Prince to settle down and set his sperm a-flowing.

Of course, Lady Tremaine and her brats don’t want sexy Cindy at the party, so they make it almost impossible for her to attend. When she bucks the odds and jumps through all the requisite hoops, the stepsisters ruin her dress and leave her with no more options. At her lowest point, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother (Verna Felton) appears and spiffs her up so her can go to the ball. The rest of the flick follows those events and their repercussions.

Without question, Cinderella owes a lot to Snow White, as the movies have many similarities. Both include fairly bland heroines as well as lackluster leading men, evil women who work against them, and a cast of quirky helpers. Magic becomes a substantial part of the two flicks, as neither could work without the supernatural.

That said, Cinderella stands on its own and doesn’t come across as a remake of the earlier classic. (The same can’t be said for 1959’s Sleeping Beauty, a less enchanting flick that often feels like a combination of Cinderella and Snow White.) Indeed, while it lacks its predecessor’s lavishness and groundbreaking quality, it may well surpass the 1937 movie for sheer charm and entertainment.

Sure, Cinderella presents a thin plot as well as another lackluster heroine. But who cares? The rest of the movie more than makes up for those minor flaws with a mix of spunk, cleverness and old-fashioned heart.

Disney often gets criticized for their comedic sidekicks, and they’ve earned some of those knocks. 75 years after Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs – the original comic relief sidekicks – the studio continues to use nutty partners to balance out their films’ more serious lead characters. Actually, virtually all the animation studios do this as well; you’ll find wacky sidekicks in non-Disney movies like Shrek, Robots and almost any other animated effort you can conjure. These long ago became an expected commodity, so they often feel more rote than inspired.

In discussions of classic animated sidekicks, I don’t think we often hear the names Gus and Jaq, though we should. For me, they’re easily the highlight of the film. They’re consistently funny, sweet and lovable, but they never become a distraction or threaten to overshadow the story. They truly add to the tale and make it much more winning.

We get a feel for their presence in the movie’s first act. That portion of the flick doesn’t do a whole lot to advance the plot. We see Cindy and the animals in day-to-day activities, but it takes a while before we formally meet “modern-day” Lady Tremaine and the sisters. A prologue introduces them in storybook fashion, but they don’t formally appear on screen until about 20 minutes into the flick.

Given their importance to the story, that’s a long wait, especially since the prior bits don’t move along the plot. They’re moderately important to set up characters, but one could easily argue that we don’t need quite so much of that material. These aren’t deep personalities with rich relationships; it’s a happy maid and some barnyard animals, for God’s sake.

While the extended introductory sequence probably should become tiresome, it never does. That’s due to the great charm of what we see on screen. The interactions between Cindy and the animals are just so much fun, I can’t begrudge the movie its languid pacing in the first act.

Once we formally meet Tremaine and her girls, the tale kicks into higher gear and continues to be very satisfying. It helps that the combination of Audley’s voice and Frank Thomas’s animation makes Tremaine a particularly compelling villain. She lacks the magical powers of Snow White’s Queen or Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent – also performed by Audley – but she’s clearly their equal in evil.

Heck, Tremaine might be their superior in that regard because we can more easily relate to her. The others are more fantasy creatures, while Tremaine exists in the real world. Yeah, it’s a real world with Fairy Godmothers and singing rodents, but still, she’s clearly viewed a as a regular human, not a magical figure.

Tremaine acts against Cinderella for no real gain of her own. She’s simply mean and spiteful, so she goes out of her way to ruin Cindy’s life just for the fun of it. The movie depicts her cool bitterness and cruelty exceedingly well and makes her arguably the scariest of all Disney villains. I don’t know anyone who can turn into a dragon like Maleficent, but I’ve met women like Tremaine.

Ultimately, there’s very little about which to complain when I assess Cinderella. It may not present the visual glories of some earlier Disney works, and its plot meanders at times. None of this matters a lick, for the action on screen and the characters delight and entertain on a consistent basis. Zuk zuk!


The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

Cinderella appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a consistently appealing presentation.

Sharpness always looked strong. Very few signs of softness materialized, as the vast majority o the ilm appeared tight and concise. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. As for print flaws, I detected no problems. The image was clean and fresh.

Colors appeared lush and full. The movie went with a fairly pastel palette that the disc depicted well. The tones seemed smooth and rich. Black levels seemed nicely deep and dark, and shadow detail was fine. Contrast was solid as well, as whites were pure and clean. Don’t expect any problems from this excellent transfer.

The DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Cinderella proved less satisfying to me, largely because I don’t think it added anything to the experience beyond what we’d get from the original monaural mix, which also appeared here. The soundfield stayed pretty close to the center. Virtually all singing and dialogueemerged from the middle speaker, and most effects remained there as well. It was the music that expanded to the forward right and left channels, with surprisingly heavy reinforcement of the tunes in the rears.

At no point did I note any particularly discrete audio from the front or rear sides; the music in the speakers offered a mildly stereophonic impression, but I couldn't point out a single instance in which I heard a particular distinguishable sound from any of the non-center speakers. The side and rear channels simply echoed the music and didn’t issue clean stereo imaging.

Audio quality seemed fine for its age. Considering the era, speech sounded pretty natural and firm. The lines were slightly thin but not bad given the circumstances of the period. They lacked any edginess and were consistently crisp and intelligible. Music failed to demonstrate great range but seemed acceptably smooth and clear. I wouldn’t call the score and songs rich or vibrant, but they seemed pretty distinctive for material from 1950.

Effects followed suit and sounded clean but unexceptional. I noticed no distortion and thought they represented the original audio well. Cinderella didn’t use many effects anyway, so they were a very minor factor. Bass response seemed acceptable for the era.

Overall, this was a perfectly listenable track, but again, I didn’t understand what purpose it served other than so Disney could market it with a “new and improved” mix. Sometimes I like multichannel remixes, but this one didn’t do it for me. The way the music spread broadly to all five channels became a minor distraction, one that didn’t add anything to the experience. I listened to the 5.1 track for this review but in the future, I’ll definitely stick with the more satisfying monaural mix.

How did this Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2005? The lossless audio appeared a little richer, but don’t expect much from it, as the track was held back by the limitations of the source. On the other hand, visuals showed stronger clarity along with more dynamic hues and greater overall delineation. The DVD looked good but the Blu-ray looked great.

The Blu-ray includes most of the DVD’s extras and provides some new materials as well. We launch with a Personalized Digital Storybook. This acts as a “Second Screen” experience – a feature I can’t get to work on my Blu-ray player. It might be useful but I can’t provide details from my own observations.

A few new featurettes ensue. The Real Fairy Godmother runs 11 minutes, 50 seconds and offers comments from animation historian Paula Sigman Lowery, Mary Alice O’Connor’s children Joan-Patricia and John O’Connor, animation director Mark Kirkland, retired Walt Disney Company Community Relations VP Tillie J. Baptie, and art director/layout artist Ed Ghertner. The program tells us about Mary Alice O’Connor, wife of Disney artist Ken O’Connor and the real-life inspiration for Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother. This is a pleasant piece but not particularly fascinating, partly because it’s not as closely tied to Cinderella as one might expect.

Hosted by actor Ginnifer Goodwin, Behind the Magic: A New Disney Princess Fantasyland lasts eight minutes, 17 seconds and features Director Project Management Mark Kohl, Senior Concept Designer – Director Chris Beatty, Senior Concept Designer Ted Robledo, Senior Project Manager Tim Warzecha, and Director Creative Development David Minichiello. Here we learn about the major expansion to Disney World’s Fantasyland. As a major WDW fan, I’m happy to see this teaser, but make no mistake: the program’s just a long advertisement.

Next comes the 10-minute, three-second The Magic of the Glass Slipper: A Cinderella Story. It gives us a short film that focuses on shoe designer Christian Louboutin and his design of a glass slipper – or something like that. It attempts a lot of magic but delivers little beyond pointless self-indulgence.

An Alternate Opening Sequence fills one minute, 13 seconds. It mixes storyboards and audio to show an unused scene in which Cinderella discusses why she doesn’t run away from home. It’s nothing much but it’s fun to see.

For something from a different princess, we go to a new animated short called Tangled Ever After. It takes up six minutes, 29 seconds and shows us shenanigans that occur during the wedding of Rapunzel and Flynn. This offers some amusement in its quick running time – and I’m happy to see the original voice actors returned for it.

Two Deleted Scenes come next. We find “The Cinderella Work Song” (three minutes, 18 seconds) and “Dancing on a Cloud” (four minutes, 29 seconds). The domain also includes a 114-second introduction from producer Don Hahn. He gives us some background on the tunes and lets us know a little about them. “Song” presents concept art along with a newly-recorded take of the number, while “Cloud” uses the same visual presentation but offers the original demo version. Neither stands out as particularly compelling, but they’re worth a look.

A demo recording of the “Cinderella” Title Song lasts two minutes, 15 seconds. It sounds more like a dirge than a romantic opening tune. I’m sure a polished take would be stronger, but I can’t say this one seems like a loss. We also find an additional seven Unused Songs. Taken together, they fill 17 minutes, 48 seconds. Again, none of these stand out as very interesting, but it’s fun to screen them.

Three Radio Programs arrive as well. We hear excerpts from “Village Store” (aired 3/25/48, two minutes, 35 seconds) and “Gulf Oil Presents (1950, 5:25) plus “Scouting the Stars (2/23/50, 4:25). “Store” is the most interesting since it comes from the same day Ilene Woods won her role. She gets congratulated and croons “When You Wish Upon a Star”. “Oil” also focuses on Woods. She tells a sugary version of her casting as well as her work on the film. She also performs “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”. Finally, “Stars” offers even more of Woods’ tale. All three are enjoyable to hear.

“Backstage Disney” launches with From Rags to Riches: The Making of Cinderella. The 38-minute and 27-second documentary includes archival footage, movie clips, and comments from film historians John Culhane, Christopher Finch, John Canemaker, animators Andreas Deja, Marc Davis, Mark Henn, Ollie Johnston, Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl and Glen Keane, composer Richard M. Sherman, film critic Joel Siegel, filmmaker Garry Marshall, voice actors Ilene Woods, Lucille Bliss and Mike Douglas, and University of Alabama Professor of Musicology Dr. Daniel Goldmark.

The program examines the selection of the story, the status of Disney Studios at the time of its production, the animators called the “Nine Old Men” and their work on Cinderella, the use of live-action reference material, the voice cast, and the movie’s score and songs. “Rags” deals with its topics in a somewhat scattershot way. Really, it’s four separate connected featurettes and not one well-integrated documentary. That said, it offers a nice collection of notes. The discussion of the animation is excellent, and I also rather like the look at the actors and the way we see the progression of audio in Disney efforts. There’s a lot of good stuff on display here.

Next we find The Cinderella That Almost Was. This 14-minute and 18-second program recreates notes for production meetings conducted between 1946 and 1948. Hahn introduces and narrates it as we go through a history of the project. We also hear from Culhane, Davis, Johnston, Siegel, Kimball, layout artist Ken O’Connor, and quotes from story meeting transcripts recorded in the Forties. We hear about a mix of elements considered for the film but not used. The featurette provides an entertaining and informative view of different paths the story might have taken.

We learn more about the legendary animators in From Walt’s Table: A Tribute to Disney’s Nine Old Men. Hosted by Joel Siegel, the 22-minute and nine-second show presents remarks from Deja, Keane, Henn, Hahn, producer/director John Musker, director Brad Bird, and producer/director Ron Clements. We also get some archival clips from the Nine Old Men themselves.

The main participants sit together at a round table in a restaurant where Disney and the Men used to lunch. They chat about the Disney films that were early influences and their initial experiences with various Men, facets of their work, and many memories of the Men. We learn how they directly and indirectly impacted the modern animators and get a fine look at the Disney legends. It’s a warm and engaging discussion.

After this comes The Art of Mary Blair. A 14-minute and 58-second featurette, it includes comments from Keane, Henn, Canemaker, Deja, Culhane, Sherman, Disney Animation Research Library director Lella Smith, director Pete Docter, DisneyToon Studios production art director Frederick Cline, art director Michael Giaimo, costume designer Alice Davis, and production designer Lou Romano. We learn about her early life and interest in art, how she ended up at Disney and her work at the studio. The show covers facets of her creations and offers an appreciation for her art. We get a nice look at all that she did for Disney and learn more about how much she influenced various productions and other artists.

A Storyboard to Film Comparison presents elements for the “Opening Sequence”. It runs six-minutes and 49 seconds as the piece presents the art in the top left of the screen and the movie in the bottom right. This becomes a fun way to check out the two stages, especially since it also includes some photos of the live-action reference elements.

For a fun archival feature, we get the 1922 Cinderella Laugh-O-Gram. It goes for seven minutes and 24 seconds. Obviously it presents a much simpler version of the story along with very crude animation. It includes some bizarre scenes like jitterbugging bears and makes a strange choice in that both Cinderella and the Prince look like they’re about 10 years old. It’s fun to see as a historical curiosity, but I doubt you’ll want to watch it twice.

The disc heads into the homestretch with an Excerpt from 1/24/56 Mickey Mouse Club. In this three-minute and 55-second clip, Helene Stanley – the live-action reference for Cinderella – chats with the Mouseketeers and acts out a scene from the flick. She recruits the ‘Teers to play the most annoying mice in the history of the world. This makes for another mildly interesting oddball piece but it’s not anything stunning.

Finally, the disc presents a collection of Trailers. This domain features the original 1950 ad along with reissue promos from 1965, 1973, 1981 and 1987. Note that two trailers accompany the 1987 re-release. The 1950 trailer is a bit of a disappointment, as it’s a very brief teaser, but the others are good to see. I like to watch trailers from over the years as they demonstrate how the art of advertisements changes in various eras.

The disc opens with ads for Peter Pan, Wreck-It Ralph and Secret of the Wings. These also show up under Sneak Peeks along with promos for Sofia the First, Disney Parks, Brave, Finding Nemo, Planes and the Cinderella sequels.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Cinderella. This delivers a retail product with a few extras.

What did the Blu-ray drop from the 2005 DVD? We lose some games, still galleries, music videos and a clip with Perry Como and others. I don’t mind the omission of the games and videos, but it’s a shame the other elements get the boot.

Cinderella would deserve a special place in animation history simply because it revived the fortunes at Disney. However, it’s more than that, as the flick is still as charming and winning now as it was 62 years ago. The Blu-ray delivers excellent visuals along with adequate audio and a reasonably interesting set of supplements. I wish we got more extensive bonus materials, but I still feel pleased with this nice release.

To rate this film visit the Special Platinum Edition review of CINDERELLA

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main