Fun & Fancy Free (1947)

Rating:

USA. 1947.

Crew

Animation Directors – Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske & Bill Roberts, Live Action Director – William Morgan, Screenplay – Homer Brightman, Eldon Dedini, Lance Holley, Tom Oreb, Harry Reeves & Ted Sears, Bongo from a Story by Sinclair Lewis, Live Action Photography – Charles P. Boyle, Music – Eliot Daniel, Paul Smith & Oliver Wallace, Music Director – Charles Wolcott, Songs – Bennie Benjamin, Buddy Kaye, Ray Noble, Arthur Quenzer, George Weiss & Bobby Worth, Animation Supervisors – Les Clark, Ward Kimball, John Lounsberry, Fred Moore & Wolfgang Reitherman, Process Effects – Ub Iwerks. Production Company – Disney

Cast

Cliff Edwards (Voice of Jiminy Crickett), Dinah Shore (Narrator of Bongo), Edgar Bergen (Himself), Luana Patten (Herself), Charlie McCarthy (Voice of Charlie), Mortimer Snerd (Voice of Mortimer), Clarence Nash (Voice of Donald Duck), Billy Gilbert (Voice of The Giant)


Plot

Jiminy Cricket listens to a record narrating the story of Bongo the Bear. Bongo was a talented performing bear but was kept a prisoner by his owner. He escaped from a circus into the wild where he fell in love with the bear Lulubelle. Next Jiminy listens in on the telling of the story of Jack and the Beanstalk in which the farmers Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Goofy climb a beanstalk to retrieve a magic harp that has been stolen by a giant.


Fun & Fancy Free is not one of the more inspired of Disney’s animated films, which is probably why it is not seen in re-release today unlike many of the other classics from the same period. Fun & Fancy Free was made during the late 1940s at the end of the War, about the time that Disney was favouring portmanteau styled cartoons, probably to use up the ideas that were not enough to fill feature-length cartoons. Others among these include Saludos Amigos (1942), Melody Time (1945), Make Mine Music (1945), Song of the South (1946), The Three Caballeros (1946) and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949).

Like most of the other animated Disney anthologies from this mid-to-late 1940s era, Fun & Fancy Free suffers from a crucial banality. The level of triteness is set by the opening song with Jiminy Cricket singing about happiness where the scene is dubiously punctuated by books entitled Misery for the Masses and lines about not worrying because things will be the way they are, which considerably grates in the craw.

The Bongo episode has some okay animation during the frolics in the sunlight woodland idyll and there is a nicely frightening personified storm. As with most Disney cartoons of this era, Fun & Fancy Free also has its share of demented moments – like square dances of bears all slapping one another’s faces and a fantasia where cherubim enwrap the two bear lovers in heart shaped clouds, balloons and flowers before puncturing them (some leery symbolism here). The second episode is a passable adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk, although no more than and the episode stands out in no way. There are some mildly inspired moments, such as the attempts to manoeuvre around the giant’s dinner table with the jelly becoming a giant trampoline and the likes. The best aspect of Fun & Fancy Free is the live-action puppet sequences, particularly those with Charlie McCarthy who voices the puppet part with sarcasm and a series of atrocious puns that are refreshing amid the blandness of the rest of the film.



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