Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tonight's Movie: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

The ongoing Disney Screen series at my local Cinemark theater has had some especially fun titles this week, including FUN AND FANCY FREE (1947) and THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH (1977).

THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH is actually a compilation of three older Pooh cartoons with new "bridging" material. The cartoons were originally released separately as WINNIE THE POOH AND THE HONEY TREE (1966), WINNIE THE POOH AND THE BLUSTERY DAY (1968), and WINNIE THE POOH AND TIGGER TOO (1974).

Regardless of the fact that the movie is actually a "package" feature with three separately produced cartoons, it's brilliant in every way; animation, script, voices, and music combine to make a superb animated film. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting it for the first time in years.

I'm pretty sure that I saw the cartoons theatrically, as featurettes accompanying Disney movies I saw in childhood. More significantly, THE MANY ADVENTURES... was my oldest daughter's first favorite movie; in my mind's eye I watched this again with a wide-eyed little blonde toddler, but she's not so little anymore!

Because of my daughter's love for the HONEY TREE section of the film in particular, I think I could recite every line of dialogue along with it, even though it had been a long time since I last watched it. Some of the lines are laugh-out-loud funny, with pitch perfect delivery by the voice cast.

Sterling Holloway had a wonderful, long career, which hit its peak as Winnie the Pooh. It's a sublime meeting of voice and character. Likewise, how spot-on is Paul Winchell as Tigger?

Sebastian Cabot narrates, with additional voices by John Fiedler, Barbara Luddy, Ralph Wright, Howard Morris, and Hal Smith.

Bruce Reitherman voices Christopher Robin in HONEY TREE; the son of director Wolfgang Reitherman, he was also the voice of Mowgli in THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967). Jon Walmsley (THE WALTONS) and Timothy Turner voice Christopher Robin in the second and third sections.

The score is filled with Sherman Brothers gems, including the unforgettable "Winnie the Pooh" theme song, "I'm Just a Little Black Raincloud," "The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers," "Heffalumps and Woozles," and more. The Shermans were on the top of their game here, and their contributions provide much of the movie magic.

John Lounsbery and Wolfgang Reitherman directed. The film runs 74 minutes.

THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH has had multiple DVD releases; I own the 25th Anniversary Edition, which includes a "making of" featurette and the cartoon A DAY FOR EEYORE (1983). It's also out on Blu-ray and VHS, and it can be streamed on Amazon Instant Video.

The Disney Screen showing of THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH was preceded by the Technicolor Silly Symphony cartoon THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANTS (1934). Watching the ants industriously store food for the winter was delightful! Like FLOWERS AND TREES (1932), which I saw earlier this week, I was fortunate to see THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANTS performed with a live orchestra at last summer's D23 Expo. It's on DVD in the Disney Treasures set Silly Symphonies.

Previous Disney Screen reviews: OLIVER & COMPANY (1988), EIGHT BELOW (2006), THE LOVE BUG (1968), THE ROCKETEER (1991), ROBIN HOOD (1973), POLLYANNA (1960), POCAHONTAS (1995), and FUN AND FANCY FREE (1947).


Blogger Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

This post made me smile, because I was another toddler who absolutely loved the original Pooh cartoons. We had the three short features plus A Day For Eeyore on VHS when I was little, and I can still remember all the songs and the dialogue almost word-for-word too. ("Someone's pasted Piglet on my window!") Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day was my favorite, but I loved all of them.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I loved your reminiscence, Elisabeth! These movies seem to have a special place in a lot of people's memories. :)

Thank you!

Best wishes,

9:09 PM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

Loved these cartoons as a child, and I still do! Enjoyed hearing appreciations from fellow fans :-)

4:29 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's wonderful, Maricatrin! Thanks for adding your endorsement. If there's anyone out there who doesn't know this movie yet, I hope they'll give it a try!

Best wishes,

9:19 PM  

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