Dumbo

"Very Good"

Dumbo Review


What you probably remember about your childhood experiences with Dumbo is a little elephant with big floppy ears that enabled him to fly. You probably don't remember the psychedelic sequence of pink elephants marching to song.

But yes, Dumbo swings from simple morality fable to Dali-esque, mystery-beverage-induced fantasy in what some critics call the best animated film of all time. I tend to disagree, seeing Dumbo as both overly simplistic yet bafflingly wandering story that is probably too intense for kids -- what with Dumbo stuck in a burning building as faceless clowns fail to rescue him to being shunned by society, there's enough horror to send any kid crying for mommy.

Still, Dumbo is at least one of Disney's most mature films -- as inferred above, it's very adult in nature, its themes of alienation being evergreen, just a bit wrongheaded in their delivery. Some of the songs are good, but once the cigar-puffing black crows are introduced and the pink elephants start to rise, the whole thing falls apart in a rush to the finish. And what a quick finish it is. Dumbo stands as the shortest Disney animated feature ever released (at 64 minutes) and also the cheapest ever produced (at less than $1 million)..

Some praise it, but I find the animation to be, for lack of a better word, cartoonish -- like you're watching little more than a Merrie Melodies. In fact, Dumbo's predecessor, an 8-minute short called Elmer Elephant, can also be found on the Dumbo DVD. The visual similarities are striking. John Canemaker (the historian who comments on the recent Snow White) provides a commentary track here, talking for at least 63 of the 64 minutes. His insights into the film are bold and eye-opening; his genealogies of everyone involved with the movie's production are not.

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Mama loves mambo. Er, Dumbo.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 64 mins

In Theaters: Monday 17th November 1941

Box Office Worldwide: $1.6M

Budget: $812 thousand

Production compaines: Walt Disney Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 36 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ben Sharpsteen

Producer:

Starring: as Mr. Stork (voice), as The Ringmaster (voice), John McLeish as Narrator (voice), as Timothy Q. Mouse (voice), James Baskett as Crow (voice), Billy Bletcher as Clown (voice), Jim Carmichael as Crow (voice), Hall Johnson Choir as Choral Sounds, as Jim Crow (voice), as The Elephant Matriarch / Mrs. Jumbo (voice), Noreen Gammill as Catty the Elephant (voice), Eddie Holden as Clown (voice), Malcolm Hutton as Skinny (voice), The King's Men as Choral Effects, Harold Manley as Boy (voice)

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