Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Cinderella (1950) at the El Capitan Theatre

The perfect follow-up to a weekend immersed in Disney animation? More Disney animation, of course!

CINDERELLA (1950) is currently playing a special two-week engagement at Disney's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. We had such a good time seeing LADY AND THE TRAMP (1955) there last February that we couldn't resist duplicating the experience with CINDERELLA.

The El Capitan is a charming environment in which to see a Disney film, starting with the live organist playing Disney tunes as the audience files in. I especially enjoyed hearing "Under the Sea" played on the big organ.

We had the chance to see the delightful new Disney short PAPERMAN (2012) for the second weekend in a row, and the pre-show concluded with a live welcome from Cinderella herself, ending in a cloud of confetti.

As I wrote last February, for some reason I never saw CINDERELLA as a child. I'd seen bits and pieces on video over the years, but I was usually working when my children watched it so I'd never sat down and watched it from start to finish. Needless to say, it was quite a treat for this Disney fan to watch it on a big screen in a gorgeous print!

I was taken with the film from the minute it started, with a gorgeous title sequence designed by Mary Blair. The colors were exquisitely beautiful.  It's a wonderful start to a most enjoyable movie which I suspect most of my readers have seen more times than I have!

Photos of some of Blair's original artwork for the film can be seen in my 2011 post on the Disneyland exhibit "The Colors of Mary Blair." Blair's style is a big part of what makes films like CINDERELLA, ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1951), and PETER PAN (1953) so special.

Cinderella was perfectly voiced by Ilene Woods. When Woods passed away a couple of years ago, I was touched to read her comment "I love the idea that after I'm gone, children will still be hearing my voice."

I thought of what she had said today as I watched the film amidst a sea of little girls. We couldn't help chuckling at the concerned gasps of the small fry as Cinderella's wicked stepsisters ruined her lovely dress for the ball. Miss Woods and all those who made the film will continue to enthrall audiences for as long as we have cinema.

One of the things I've particularly noticed about Disney animation in the last few years is how realistic the animal animation is! As the owner of both dogs and cats, I frequently recognize very "real" bits of animal behavior, such as Lucifer the cat digging in his claws while engaging in big stretches. Lucifer was voiced by Voice Actress Extraordinaire June Foray, who will be 95 next month.

Eleanor Audley, who voices the wicked stepmother, was also the voice of Disney's great villainess Maleficent in SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959). Verna Felton, the Fairy Godmother, was later the voice of the Queen of Hearts in ALICE IN WONDERLAND; she had previously voiced Mrs. Jumbo in DUMBO (1941). She also worked on SLEEPING BEAUTY and THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967).

Other vocal performers were Rhoda Williams, James MacDonald, Luis Van Rooten, Lucille Bliss, Betty Lou Gerson, Thurl Ravenscroft, and Don Barclay. A young Marni Nixon sings during the title credits. I'd forgotten until today that Prince Charming was voiced by Mike Douglas, a talk show host well known to those of us of a certain age.

CINDERELLA was directed by longtime Disney directors Hamilton Luske, Wilfred Jackson, and Clyde Geronimi. The score was by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman. The film runs a brisk 74 minutes.

CINDERELLA will be out this October in a new Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD combination pack and a standard DVD. It's previously had multiple releases on DVD and VHS, including a 2005 two-disc special edition DVD and a 1995 VHS edition.

2019 Update: Revisiting Cinderella (1950) at the El Capitan Theatre.


Blogger DKoren said...

I see it's still playing another week! I wonder if I can find a way to take my nephew to see it. That sounds like it was a lot of fun. I've seen it a couple times, but not a lot.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

It's really worthwhile making the effort to see the film in such a neat environment -- hope you're able to do it! :)

Best wishes,

5:09 PM  

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