My opinion right after watching movie
My opinion right after watching the film is that it is better than I thought it would be. Sure, there is filler (less than SW, and it’s not all in 25 minutes), but while the plot is kind of simple, it is executed well. I love the scale in the film, and there are less plot devices and more characters.
Production for this film started in 1948. They were about $4 million in debt, and if they had a huge failure, than that would be it for Walt Disney Studios. They did this as a gamble to really put them on a mark, or to be the official end of them. They only had 1 bonafide hit, with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with the rest being flops, or the others being so cheap that they made a profit (never a huge one), so they replicated the formula of Snow White into Cinderella.
Apparently, Prince Charming was supposed to have a larger part in it him playing with animals, him and Cinderella meeting up after she puts on the right slipper), but they still could not animate a realistic looking male, so he was reduced to a plot device.
About 90% of the film was shot in live action before they animated it, because it somehow saved the company money. Oh, and Cinderella is the first movie in the canon to have the soundtrack become marketable, meaning that the music was not sold off, and they were able to make profit off of the soundtrack. Disney also pioneered double tracked vocals when actress Illene Woods sung the harmonies for Sing Sweet Nightangale.
So we start the film with a great introduction, with Cinderella (Illene Woods) being the only child of a widowed aristocrat. He spoils her with love and such, but he knows she needs the nurture of a mother, which is why he married Lady Tremaine (Eleanor Audley). Soon after, he dies, and the Tremaines torture her enough to the point where she becomes a servant in her own home, lives in the small room at the top of the house, and the home is in disrepair because the Tremaines spent all of the money. This is a great introduction. We are then introduced to Cinderella, who is woken up by the birds and the clock.
So she is told by the mice that there is another mouse in the mouse trap. I would like to point it out that it is clear she sets the traps so she can have more mouse friends. So she dubs the new mouse as Gus (Jimmy MacDonald). So she starts her chores, with feeding Lucifer (June Foray), the chickens and horse, Bruno (Jimmy MacDonald), the mice, and the Tremaines. There are some filler with the mice and Lucifer, which is like over 5 minutes, and results in Lady Tremaine yelling at her.
So we are taken to the royal castle and the King and the Duke (Luis Van Rooten; for both) talk about how Prince Charming (William Phipps) is returning from…. who knows where, and the King is worried about not living to see his grandchildren. The funny thing is that we NEVER hear from Charming’s point of view on this. The film is more about the King than Charming himself. Prince Charming is just a plot device for his father to force him onto a woman so they can reproduce, and for Cinderella to leave the Tremaines.
At the Tremaines, Anastacia (Lucille Bliss) and Drizella (Rhoda Williams) are singing badly, and then we are seen Cinderella singing the same song of Sing Sweet Nightangale. The doorbell is rang, and Cinderella receives a note that all of the young maidens MUST attend the ball tonight.
So Lady Tremaine loses it when Cinderella interrupts, but she is told that there is a letter from the King. She takes it and tells her daughters that it the ball tonight is for a young maiden to wed Prince Charming, and they use this so they could get richer. Cinderella demands that she goes, since it is EVERY young maiden must attend, and Tremaine says she could go IF she finishes all of her chores, but she makes it so Cindy will never finish on time.
The mice then bring it upon themselves to remake Cinderella’s mother’s dress with an annoying song, since she will never get time to make it. Cinderella finishes her chores, but is sad because she has no dress, until she goes to her room and sees the surprise. She quickly dresses up and catches up to them as they are about to leave, and then this happens.
So Cinderella runs off crying, and the Fairy Godmother (Verna Felton) appears in her only scene. She makes Cinderella a dress, a new hair style, a carriage, horse, etc to make her go to the ball. She is in desperate need for help and because Cinderella kept on believing, the Fairy helped her. She does this in the most famous song in the film Bibidi Bobidi Bo tells her that the spell will wear off in midnight.
Cinderella is off to the ball, and Charming FINALLY appears and is bored and rolling his eyes from the girls he is presented with. The King is upset that he is not participating, but things change when Charming lays his eyes on Cinderella. They are suddenly singing So This Is Love, when they barely have a conversation (or one not deep enough where they do not even know one another’s names, and such.
So Cinderella is a lovestruck mess, and Lady Tremaine puts two and two together and locks Cinderella in her room, to make sure she will NOT escape the torturous life she made for her. The Duke comes to the house, and Anastasia and Drizella fail to fit in the slipper. Cinderella comes out of the room (via the mice stealing the key) and is about to try in the shoe, but Lady Tremaine trips the guy who has the shoe and breaks it. Cinderella pulls out the other slipper and it fits. HOW does a shoe fit only one woman? Anyways, they get wed, and the film ends.
The characters are alright in the film. Most of them are actual characters, but one is just a plot point with no personality, and it is Prince Charming. The others play their roles very well though.
The others are not worth mentioning; especially the mice.
The animation is very good. The movements are perfect, but I know it has to do with them doing them in live action first. The designs are alright, but the backgrounds are really great. When you enter a castle or a home, there is so much space and the imagery is fantastic. Though there are the color schemes, which makes everything so light all the time, and it makes the animation look bland at times.
The music is very melodic. The songs like So This Is Love and A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes, Sing Sweet Nightangale, and etc have a similar sound, and it does add to the soft sound of the movie. While the songs are nice, the scores sound the same. It just moves on and on for a majority of the film (like almost 100%)
Reception at Release
When it was released on February 15th 1950, it was an instant classic. With a $3 million budget, it became one of the biggest successes in the 1950s. The money from the theatrical release, merchandise, and the soundtrack caused Disney to start his own distribution company, leaving RKO, and was the base of the production for many live action and animated releases of the 1950, and helped start Disneyland. It was here that Disney became a mega-corporation, and decided to go to the more commercialized, sugar routes, which shoes in his future releases.
It is still deemed as a classic and one of WDAS best films. It is one of the most popular and well-known films EVER, and Cinderella became the leader of the mega successful Disney Princess lineup. It also garnered the blessed 2 sequels of Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. It is one of Disney’s biggest classics.