Cinderella (1950)

“Why, it’s like a dream — a wonderful dream come true.”

Synopsis:
The cruel stepmother (Eleanor Audley) and stepsisters (Rhoda Williams and Lucille Bliss) of a young orphan named Cinderella (Ilene Woods) try to prevent her from attending a royal ball — but she is given assistance by both her animal friends and her Fairy Godmother (Verna Felton), and soon finds herself the object of the Prince’s desires.

Genres:

Review:
Widely considered to be one of Disney’s “lesser” mid-century animated features, Cinderella nonetheless remains one of the studio’s most beloved fairy tale adaptations, with many of its characters and songs enjoying iconic status. Critics have labeled the film “disappointingly routine” and “dated”, noting that unlike its fabled predecessors of Disney’s Golden Age (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi), it doesn’t stand out as unique or groundbreaking in any particular way. They find particular fault with the extended cat-and-mouse sequence during the film’s first half hour, which establishes an ongoing rivalry between Cinderella’s clever mice friends and the evil house cat, Lucifer — and this does indeed smack a bit too much of Saturday-morning-T.V. antics, a la “Tom and Jerry”. However, given that these creatures play a pivotal part in the climactic finale, it’s relatively easy to forgive their early dominance. Meanwhile, I find it refreshing to see how much screentime the title character is finally given in this film, with Cinderella (unlike Snow White or Sleeping Beauty) actually emerging as a real protagonist: we can’t help rooting for her as she faces seemingly countless hurdles on the road to happiness and freedom.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some fine animation
  • Numerous enjoyably memorable songs (including “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo”, which was nominated for an Academy Award, and “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”)

Must See?
Yes, simply as one of Disney’s most popular animated features. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.

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One Response to “Cinderella (1950)”

  1. A once-must, at least, for its place in animation history – and for adult ffs to see with their budding ffs.

    The print I just watched – though not blu-ray – was indeed quite a pretty one. No doubt I did not see this film in all its ‘glory’ when I was a kid (I probably just saw it on a black and white home television screen). I don’t think this is one I returned to much, if at all, as I grew. My guess is it was probably a bit too schmaltzy romantic for me – and, aside from the stepmother’s mild forays into being ‘evil’ (she’s really more just somewhat bitchy than anything approaching Evil Queen status), the film doesn’t have anything overtly dramatic or outstanding (compared to, say, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Pinocchio’, even ‘Fantasia’) that might have appealed to my love of drama.

    Seeing it again, I can see how it would delight little ones but I was a bit restless personally. Being older, I don’t take quite the shine to ‘love at first sight’ stories – especially ones that take place between idealized, fairy tale protagonists. 😉

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