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Walt Disney Home Video presents
Cinderella: Platinum Edition (1950)

"If the shoe fits, bring her in!"
- The King (Luis Van Rooten)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: October 03, 2005

Stars: Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Claire Du Brey
Other Stars: Rhoda Williams, Jams Macdonald, Helene Stanley, Luis Van Rooten, Don Barclay, June Foray, Thurl Ravenscroft
Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske

MPAA Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:15m:00s
Release Date: October 04, 2005
UPC: 786936292237
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The Disney studios were always mining the classic fairy tales, and ideas had been kicked around for an adaptation of Charles Perrault's Cinderella since the 1920s. Although it took quite a while for the idea to come to full fruit, the time was worth it. A huge success for the studio, it paved the way for the last masterpieces of the 1950s. Although the story is one of the most-filmed children's tales of all time, the Disney version is clearly the definitive one.

The tale is well known, but greatly amplified in the telling. Instead of centering exclusively on the traditional tale of the young girl (Ilene Woods) abused by her stepmother (Eleanor Audley) and stepsisters Drizella (Rhoda Williams) and Anastasia (Lucille Bliss), a fairy godmother and a mishap with a glass slipper, Disney adds a substantial layer with its tale of Cinderella's little friends, a group of mice led by Jacques and portly Gus (both James Macdonald), and a number of bluebirds. Much of the running time is devoted to this story, which helps keep the attention of little boys totally uninterested in princess stories, and combines with the original tale in extremely affecting manner by the end.

The film is an intriguing contrast of styles of artwork—the human characters are quite realistically done, while the animals are done in cartoonish fashion (courtesy of animator Ward Kimball). This dichotomy is present in the backgrounds as well; some of the settings, such as Cinderella's garret room, are very realistic and detailed, while others, such as the palace, are minimalistic. The cartoonier aspects allow a sort of Tom and Jerry vibe to take place, with the mice engaging in slapstick pratfalls as they attempt to outsmart the nasty cat Lucifer (June Foray). The realistic dimension makes the wicked stepmother particularly terrifying, since she seems like she's quite capable of real abuse, as opposed to the dippy and essentially ineffectual (if cruel-minded) stepsisters.

Casting is particularly inspired, with Eleanor Audley dripping venom with every word, rich with nastiness and leaving no doubt whatsoever as to who is in charge. Ilene Woods has a breathy earnestness and innocence that befits the character, keeping her constantly the underdog but spunky and likeable. Verna Felton has a sweet grandmotherly charm, gently berating Cinderella while making her dreams come true. The songs are rather weak and utterly forgettable, other than the signature tune, Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo. However, they do make notable use of the then-new technique of overdubbing, making them important from a technical standpoint if not from their own particular merits.

In any retelling of the Cinderella story, the money sequence is always the transformation, and Disney really knocks this one out of the park. The use of delicate twinkles as the magic takes effect underlines the flow, but isn't the central aspect. Most notable is the development of the pumpkin into a carriage; the twirling and swirling vines give the picture a feeling of an Art Nouveau scene come to life. It's beautifully done and one of the most memorable sequences in the whole Disney output. The second most notable scene is pure Disney contrivance, as the mice attempt to move a key up a flight of stairs to free Cinderella before the prince's emissary leaves with the glass slipper. One wouldn't expect Hitchcockian suspense to be generated by a couple of bumbling cartoon mice, but somehow Disney pulls it off. The story is comical enough to interest the youngsters, and the romance is genuine enough to interest the older set, making it a classic that truly will appeal to nearly everyone.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Although many prior Disney releases suffered from excessive edge enhancement, this version, restored by Lowry Digital Images, is extremely clean and attractive, with all cel dirt utterly eradicated. Much of the film grain went with it, but the lines don't seem to have suffered in the process. Even the title sequences, which usually are a mess of ringing, are quite clear and look lovely on a larger screen. Colors are bright, vivid, and highly appealing. The only negative I noticed was a slight bit of aliasing on pans and other camera movements. On the whole, it looks superb.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Spanishno

Audio Transfer Review: The original theatrical mono is present for the purists, and there's also a 5.1 remix in English, French, and Spanish. The remix gives a nice broad soundstage, although it occasionally feels a little forced. There's virtually no surround information, however. Otherwise, it's also quite clean and hiss and noise are virtually nonexistent.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Original Trailer(s)
2 Deleted Scenes
4 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:30m:08s

Extra Extras:
  1. Music Videos
  2. ESPN Cinderella Stories
  3. Radio programs
  4. Unused songs
  5. Galleries
Extras Review: Disney Platinum discs usually have a first-rate making-of documentary, and this one is no exception. Animators Ollie Johnston and Ward Kimball, among others, talk about their experiences on the film, and Ilene Woods is present as the voice of Cinderella herself. There's also a fascinating 12-minute featurette on the "Cinderella That Never Was" that looks at some storyboards of different versions considered by Disney during the 1930s and 1940s, including reenactments of story conferences with Walt. Two deleted scenes are elaborate storyboards for two songs that never quite made the final cut. House of Royalty is a surprisingly charming look at what it takes to be a princess, with the help of an 11-year-old girl from the Disney Channel: how to look, live and act like a princess with the help of fashion designers, makeover experts, and Catherine Oxenberg. It's entertaining and surprisingly charming. A Perry Como show promotes the film, with Woods present and singing several numbers along with Como and the Fontaine Sisters. It's an interesting look at 1950 live television, as Woods muffs her entrance and keeps cracking up on camera thereafter. Three radio shows from 1948 through 1950 also plug the picture, and again feature Woods, who performs several songs, including a beautiful rendition of When You Wish Upon a Star from Pinocchio.

A documentary (21m:50s) pays tribute to Disney's Nine Old Men, the grand master animators of the studio. The tributes come from various modern animators who learned from the Nine Old Men, at the table where they ate lunch. There are plenty of illustrative clips that emphasize the talents of these gents. But Mary Blair also gets her due in her own documentary, paying tribute to her colorful design and concept art for Cinderella and other films through the 1940s and 50s. It's a fascinating look at a completely underappreciated figure in Disney history. A storyboard-to-film comparison examines the opening seqeunce against the live action references and pencil drawings by the Disney artists. There are fairly substantial galleries that look at the design of the film, storyboard material, live action and publicity art. One real gem on the set is Disney's first stab at the story, the crude 1922 Laugh-o-gram short made while he was still in Kansas City. Amusingly, it's a modernized version, with Cinderella going to the ball as a flapper in a Model A. A set of six trailers lets one see how the marketing of the picture evolved over the decades, with many reissues included. A four-minute excerpt from The Mickey Mouse Club features Helene Stanley, who provided the reference live-action for Cinderella herself, playing a brief scene from the film and singing one of the songs.

Other materials feel like quantity for quantity's sake. Most puzzling is a collection of ESPN Cinderella Stories (33m:40s), featuring such sports figures as Jackie Joyner-Kersee and about ten others. It's a headscratcher unless you remember Disney also owns ESPN and is just taking the opportunity to do a little shameless cross-promotion. There are two music videos. The first is a dance-beat version of A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, ghastly in its vandalism of a harmless little tune. Insult is added to injury by a making piece in which the participants go on at length about how great it is. Less nauseating is a more straight look at Disney princesses set to the song Every Girl Can Be a Princess. The second disc features demos of the title song and seven unused songs, which apparently were taken from severely warped, if not broken, records that have been digitally patched together. The process is interesting, but the songs were properly rejected by Disney in the final estimation. The lack of an audio commentary is rather odd, since most previous Platinum Editions have included one or more. There's also a DVD-ROM game allowing you to design a princess' outfit and a palace.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

In its first trip to DVD, Disney's Cinderella gets one of their best transfers yet. Several good documentaries and deleted scenes are the most notable of the many extras.


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