It’s been fun to be a guest on my friend and fellow Utahn Rachel Wagner’s “Rachel’s Reviews” podcast. Most recently, Rachel and I talked about Disney Animation’s 12th animated film and still one of their all-time best, Cinderella (1950).
Made at a critical juncture in the history of The Walt Disney Studios, Cinderella was the film that helped get the studio back on solid financial footing and allowed for brothers Walt and Roy Disney to diversify into live-action films, television, and, of course, that little park known as Disneyland. Writer and historian Mindy Johnson in her excellent essay on Cinderella in Tachen’s giant and remarkable book The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921-1968, stated:
“No longer the brash young upstarts of the Snow White days, Walt Disney’s stable of top talent was now full of seasoned storytellers, and it was in their own best interest to secure their futures as well… [Walt] knew that working on a feature film again offered a chance for the studios’ 750 artists to collectively envision a unique story, delve even deeper in to their characters, an explore an extraordinary world through the art of animation. And, if done right, they could save the business and ensure the future of animation.”
Cinderella was also a return to an animated fairy tale for Disney and the filmmakers embellished the classic story with great style, humor, and flair. Color stylist Mary Blair is credited with developing the artistic look and feel of Cinderella. Her unique color palette and shapes provided the film’s ambiance and style. Animator Marc Davis said of Mary Blair: “In Mary’s hands, colors worked like never before.”
More from Mindy’s essay:
“Marc Davis also recounted in an oral history that one of Walt Disney’s favorite scenes in his films was when Cinderella got her gown from the Fairy Godmother…
“In a sense, Walt was a Cinderella. For, indeed, much like his heroine, Disney and his team of artists overcame challenging circumstances to secure the future of the Walt Disney Studios with the success of Cinderella, and in the grand tradition of fairy tales, they ensured that the art form of animation continued ‘happily ever after.’”