Directed by: Clyde Geronimi/Hamilton Luske/Wilfred Jackson
Written by: Ken Anderson/Perce Pearce/Homer Brightman/Winston Hibler/Bill Peet/Erdman Penner/Harry Reeves/Joe Rinaldi/Ted Sears/Maurice Rapf (uncredited)
Based on story by: Charles Perrault
Finally, Disney gets back to their fairy tale feature film roots!
Cinderella started production in 1948 and the entire future of the studio hinged on its success. Luckily, everyone in the world was ready for this sort of film again. It ended up being their biggest hit since Snow White 13 years before.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Cinderella. She was being raised by her evil stepmother and two awful stepsisters. She’s a master seamstress and has help from all of her animal friends that she makes clothes for. (How she got the birds to wear dresses, I don’t know.)
Meanwhile, the King is looking for a wife for his son. For some reason, the boy just refuses to marry! He and the Grand Duke decide to throw a ball so that he can meet all of the women in the land and choose a wife. (Because that’s how it works, right?)
Cinderella and her evils find out about the ball. The evils find ways to thwart Cinderella’s plans of going. They keep her busy until the moment they need to leave, then tear her dress apart when she comes down to leave with them. Lucky for her, a Fairy Godmother is listening. She comes done from on high and changes everything around her into dresses, carriages, and horses, sending her to the ball in glass slippers. (I still don’t get this. Glass? Really?) She has until midnight to woo the Prince before everything turns into various pumpkins and mice.
This, she now does. But she loses track of time, runs away, and loses a slipper.
The Grand Duke goes around the next day to make all of the women in the kingdom try on the slipper. One of the evils trips him and breaks the slipper. But Cinderella has a trick (aka, the other one) up her sleeve.
Happily ever after commences.
Cinderella is kinda awesome. It has its issues (all of the women just want to get married, stepfamilies are all terrible, cats are conniving), but it’s super charming and fun. And it’s interesting that it’s the guy’s dad who is really into getting his kid married and having grandkids. Then again, I guess Cinderella didn’t have a real mother.
The animation is a bit more cartoony than we’re maybe used to from Disney features, but they had been through a lot. They were damn near bankrupt and had to cut some corners. But it’s still beautifully animated. Especially compared to all of the package films that they had been releasing.
Cinderella almost single-handedly turned the studio around. And she started a string of classics that lasted, debatably, for about two decades.
This is also the first of three films that all of the Nine Old Men worked on. They were legendary animators who began working for Disney in their 20s. They had just never worked on the same film together.