- Supervising Directors: Ben Sharpsteen and Hamilton Luske
- Sequence Directors: Bill Roberts, Norman Ferguson, Jack Kinney, Wilfred Jackson, and T. Hee
- February 7, 1940 (Center Theatre) / February 23, 1940 (US)
- Based on the 1883 Italian children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
- Pinocchio, Alexander-Dickie Jones
- Geppetto-Christian Rub
- Jiminy Cricket-Cliff Edwards
- Gideon (hiccoughs)-Mel Blanc
- Donkeys-Billy Bletcher, Dal McKennon, and Jack Mercer
- Carnival Barkers-Don Brodie, John McLeish, and Stuart Buchanan
- J. Worthington Foulfellow-Walter Catlett
- Birds-Marion Darlington
- Lampwick-Frankie Darro
- Children-Virginia Davis
- Wooden Russian Soldiers Puppets-Walt Disney
- Stromboli, The Coachman-Charles Judels
- Figaro, Rough House Statue, Donkeys-Clarence Nash
- Marionettes-Patricia Page
- Monstro-Thurl “Tony the Tiger” Ravenscroft
- The Blue Fairy-Evelyn Venable
A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy.
Pinocchio is the fun and fanciful Disney tale of a marionette who must follow his conscience and do the right thing in order to become a real boy rather than just be a golem for Geppetto to play pretend with. I know I made that a little dark but hold on this may get worse for you.
From an animation standpoint this is just a beautiful film. It is something that is true for all of the old Disney films. Heck, most hand drawn animated features are art. That’s why they look as good today as they did whenever they were actually made. This particular feature was especially important to get right as it was the follow-up to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and visually they accomplished that in spades.
There are themes of loyalty and friendship and family as is often the case in older Disney films. There’s no attempt to be ironic but rather present a story with a soft moral core. I applaud the effort though I think at times it falls a little short.
In the story Geppetto makes a wish for his newly crafted marionette to be a real boy and a Blue Fairy comes along to grant that wish but not necessarily all the way. In other words he gets a golem and not a boy. Pinocchio is not human but he must follow his conscience-a talking cricket named Jiminy-and do the right thing in order to become a real boy because “if he cannot be good then he’s no better than wood.” That sounds a bit harsh, but you could take the moral away as if you can’t find it in yourself to do the right thing when you’re a problem and you will bring problems.
Pinocchio itself is just a series of short adventures. Pinocchio keeps taking the easy path and ignoring his conscience and going off and doing the wrong thing which always makes trouble. In one instance he listens to this one kid named Lampwick and goes off to Pleasure Island which is a magical and evil trap that turns children into donkeys for to be sold into slave labor.
Pinocchio escapes after being partially transformed and returns home and has to go and search out Geppetto and save him from a giant whale which is one of the better old-school Disney animated sequences. The thing is he never goes back and helps the kids that are trapped on Pleasure Island nor does he even alert the authorities or bring it up to Geppetto. He just leaves them to their fate.
And there’s one thing that really bothers me and that the child is crying can still talk. He is crying and begging to go home to his mother. That bothered me as a kid and it bothers me now because Pinocchio must do the right thing and I would presume the right thing in this case would be the help those that are trapped. Nope. Screw that!
Once he is okay he does not give the plight of others another thought. Is the message to worry only about yourself and not others? That is not a very good moral. Always worrying about yourself and nobody else is very selfish.
“When You Wish Upon A Star,” which became a major hit, was introduced in this very film. The song is a classic that is as much identified with this movie as it is with the Disney company itself.
Despite my issues I can find enough to enjoy it in it. It’s a trip back to a simpler time in animated movie making when the world was less cynical and more idealistic. The directing is great and the animation is solid. And for what it is the script is good. It is a perfect encapsulation of what Disney was at the time as well as what people think of when they think Disney.
Pinocchio is a classic piece of Disney animation that goes down not quite as easy with the cynicism of adulthood setting in but it is still quite enjoyable. Pop it in or stream it and take a trip back to your child because you will enjoy.