Fun and Fancy Free is yet another package film (thanks WWII) produced by the Walt Disney Company. It contains a short about a circus bear running away to the wild and a Mickey Mouse version of Jack and the Beanstalk. How are these related? They’re not. Both were originally developed as full features, but due to the war and budgets and whatnot they got shortened and thrown together.
Fun Fact: The title song was originally written for Pinocchio
SO! Jiminy Cricket apparently breaks into a house (again) where Cleo happens to be living. However, it is not Gepetto’s house. We’re in America, evidently. Jiminy starts talking to a doll and a stuffed bear after singing a little ditty. What?
Somehow this turns into the story of Bongo the circus bear in a short narrated by Dinah Shore. (She also sang in Make Mine Music) Bear runs away, can’t make it in the wild, meets a cute girl.
Now, I’m not up to par on my bear knowledge….but abusive relationship says what? Given, the song is cutesy and kind of catchy, but WHAT?! I’m with Jon on this one: gonna keep it away from the kiddos.
Fun Fact: Because Bongo was a circus bear, it was a passing thought to have it using the same circus set up and supporting cast (elephants, etc.) as Dumbo.
So after these bears literally beat each other senseless, Jiminy finds an invitation to a birthday party at the house down the way, or some such nonsense. The birthday party contains a young girl, a man, and three ventriloquist puppets. (Apparently the man is some famous guy…still weird.) Creepiest party ever. Yeah, this movie just wouldn’t make it today.
FUN FACT AGAIN!: The young girl, Luana, also appeared in Disney’s Song of the South (that film which Disney chooses to pretend doesn’t exist)
For whatever reason, the gentleman decides to tell the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.
The story features Mickey, Goofy, and Donald who are starving because a magic singing harp got stolen by a giant (just accept it.) Mickey sells his cow to buy magic beans. Beans grow a beanstalk that magically takes Mickey + friends to the giant’s castle. Whatever. You know the story.
Another fun fact: this film is the last time Walt Disney regularly provided Mickey’s voice. He had become too busy running the studios and cigarettes aren’t doing him any favors. After this film, Jimmy MacDonald took over for the voice acting for Mickey. He would remain Mickey until sometime in the 1970s. It is said by some that both Walt and Jimmy can be heard as Mickey in this film.
AND Another Fun Fact: In the original version of Mickey and the Beanstalk, it was supposed to be Foulfellow and Gideon (the fox and the cat from Pinocchio) who were to trade beans for a cow. (Which makes Jiminy and Cleo make a little bit more sense, but not much) In another version, which was actually storyboarded, Mickey got the beans from Queen Minnie.
Now, what is interesting about this rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk is that Disney Co. felt the need to add in a little twist (aside from changing the ending, which the company tends to do with most, if not all, of its stories). For whatever reason, this particular giant has magical powers. He can change his form into anything. He likes being a pink bunny. He can also shrink himself and fly. OH….AND DISAPPEAR.
This has absolutely nothing to do with the story. They didn’t go anywhere with it. It’s not in the original folktale. In the original, the giant says, “Fee Fi Fo Fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman! Be he live or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!” Apparently, that’s too violent (but bear slapping isn’t?) so instead “Fee Fi Fo Fum” are magic words to make him do whatever he wants. Okay, so, he’s magic. I can accept that, but why does he not use that to his advantage? Why was it added in? Anyone?
This giant also eats chocolate pot roast.
If “Jack” and his friends had to climb up a beanstalk to get to the giant’s castle, how did the giant steal the magic golden harp in the first place? This castle is in the clouds. How can clouds support the weight of a castle and/or a giant? How did the giant get out of the clouds to steal the harp? Oh okay. Magic.
I’m not going to lie, I’m ready to be into the 1950s.
I’m kind of over these package films.