It’s time for Part 2 of A Very Disney Quarantine! If you missed the first post, check it out here — and if you read it, welcome back!
Today we’re diving into Disney’s Silver Era of animation. This era marked a mini revival in creativity and success for Disney, all thanks to “Cinderella.” The princess classic, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, was Disney’s first major box office success since “Snow White.” “Cinderella” saved the studio from financial collapse, funded Disney’s venture into TV, and even gave Disney the boost to start building Disney World!
The Silver Era: 1950-1967
It’s been nearly 20 years since I last watched “Cinderella.” For a long time I considered Cinderella one of the more “meh” princesses, but I’m taking that back now.
For one, Cinderella loses both parents as a young child and is raised by a b**** of a stepmom. Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters create an emotionally and mentally abusive household, behaving absolutely horribly towards Cinderella and making her a servant in her own house. Cinderella somehow survives in her negative living situation and is still a nice person, even to those most awful to her.
Two, Cinderella was kind of sassy! Her comments to the animals about her family cracked me up. This also goes again to highlight point one: despite everything she’s endured, she still is good and has a sense of humor about it all.
I’m not going to dive into the whole “true love at first sight and he finds her with a shoe” thing because I’m already going to rip into “Sleeping Beauty,” but yeah…thanks again Disney for perpetuating unrealistic expectations of love and relationships.
Also, this beautifully animated moment that made us all wish we had a fairy godmother:
Alice in Wonderland, 1951
This movie is visually interesting as an adult, but it creeped me out as a kid. Frankly, the Cheshire Cat still weirds me out, especially this moment!
That’s really all I have to say about “Alice in Wonderland”…I can see why many people love the movie, but it just isn’t my favorite. Alice doesn’t even seem to learn anything from her dreamland trip to Wonderland.
But I will say, the most relatable and accurate line: “We’re all mad here.”
Peter Pan, 1953
I could have sworn the “fairies need applause to live” thing was in the movie but nope…it’s a stage adaptation addition and somehow slipped into my memory as being from the movie.
Tinker Bell is known for being a petty character, but she’s also vicious – She straight-up tried to trick the Lost Boys into killing Wendy just so she doesn’t have to share Peter. Then again, she was dumb enough to fall for Captain Hook’s trick and gave away Peter’s location, so…justice?
This went over my head as a kid, but hoo boy is “Peter Pan” racist. I totally forgot about the “What Makes the Red Man Red” song…and that’s definitely for the best. Thankfully the stage adaptation cut that song and is significantly less racist (and much funnier!).
Final verdict: a cute movie that I may rewatch down the line, but I’ll take the stage version, thanks.
Lady and the Tramp, 1955
This was actually really cute, especially since I’m now a dog mom! They really accurately captured doggy behaviors. Can you imagine what it was like to be in the animation studios when the live models were in? I doubt I’d have been able to get anything done!
Speaking of live models, this movie is certainly cute, but I wouldn’t have labelled it “live-action remake worthy.” The story is basic, and the only thing anyone really remembers from the movie is this much over-recreated spaghetti kiss.
I haven’t watched the Disney+ live-action remake yet, and after rewatching the original, I don’t really feel motivated to.
Sleeping Beauty, 1959
One question I’ve always had—why didn’t the fairies just tell her she was a princess? They were so shocked by her reaction to finding out she had to live her happy life for a totally different one, where she was expected to marry someone she hadn’t even met. It’s not like she had anyone to tell, considering they hid her away completely.
The Three Good Fairies’ personalities were wonderful and distinctive—Merriwether kept cracking me up because she reminded me of myself. While I loved the Maleficent movies, I disliked the dumbing down of the fairies purely to make Maleficent into the only one really capable of caring for Aurora.
Phillip is…a creep, especially once you’re older and recognize the signs. He sneaks up behind Aurora and starts dancing with her while she thinks she’s still dancing with the animals, claims he also knows her “once upon a dream” when he didn’t know that phrase until she said it, and oh yeah, asks for her name after they’ve clearly been sitting cozy together for a while.
And just like Snow White, it’s a “we meet once, hang for a very short period of time (albeit longer than Snow White and her prince did, though not by much), and decide it’s true love” scenario. THAT IS NOT HOW LOVE WORKS, DISNEY.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians, 1961
The opening credits were so cool! The animation showed a major evolution in hand-drawn animation and reminded me of the style used for the opening credits in “Monsters, Inc.”
Kid me was upset that someone would kidnap puppies to make a coat, but as an adult and now-dog mom, I was MAD. Aside from that, watching this movie as a dog mom made the movie as a whole even cuter – even animated pups are cute! “101 Dalmatians” is the reason I always wonder what dogs are talking about when they bark back and forth, like the Twilight Howl. It was also hilarious that since the film is from the dogs’ perspective, the humans are referred to as their “pets.”
The Sword in the Stone, 1963
I found this cute as a kid, but as an adult, it’s…odd. Granted, I’m probably thinking too deeply into it, but there isn’t much to the movie—Merlin decides he must give Arthur an education for seemingly no reason (more on that in a sec), and the two go through several scenarios of transforming into animals so Merlin can teach Arthur valuable life lessons
Yeah, somehow future-traveling and -seeing Merlin doesn’t realize that this is the future king Arthur, of Camelot-and-Knights-of-the-Round-Table fame, until the end. He has no real reason for wanting to teach Arthur. This made the whole movie feel random and like Disney was just trying to produce a new movie with cutesy animal characters.
Merlin is otherwise the movie’s best character. The rapport between him and Archimedes (seriously, what is it with early Disney and snarky owl characters?) cracked me up, and his battle with Madam Mim was great—especially the whole “I’m a germ” win.
Mary Poppins, 1964
I have always had a soft spot for “Mary Poppins.” As it turned out, I got to this movie on a day when I really needed a pick-me-up. I was smiling almost the entire time, humming and mouthing along to the songs and just truly enjoying an old favorite. It was every bit as enjoyable and wonderful as I remembered. Also, Julie Andrews is forever a QUEEN.
The best number to date is still “Step in Time.”
The choreography is AMAZING, and Dick Van Dyke was such a great dancer. (I’m amazed that he’s in his 90s and STILL dancing!) Truthfully, I had the song stuck in my head for the rest of the night!
One of the most fascinating things about “Mary Poppins” is the visual effects. This movie was groundbreaking in the 1960s for everything they managed to do, and even with how far we’ve come now, it’s still really cool! Like the chalk world scenes, which were so seamlessly done—I was beyond excited to see a similarly done scene in “Mary Poppins Returns.”
Watching “Mary Poppins” made me appreciate just how well-done the sequel was all over again. It was respectful of the original, incorporating numerous callbacks like with the chalk world animation + reality and the lamplighters in place of the chimney sweeps—and an insanely well-choreographed lamplighter number to harken back to “Step in Time!” Another, more overlooked callback is Dick Van Dyke’s second role as the old bank manager in the original movie—in the sequel, he played another character in the exact same position!
The Jungle Book, 1967
I’ve never been a big lover of this movie. Confession: while there certainly are cute moments, I didn’t find myself giving all of my attention to the screen because I just…wasn’t interested.
Mowgli is a typical 10-year-old boy, whiny and refusing to listen to his elders—even when they tell him there is a tiger that wants to kill him and he must return to the man-village if he wants to live. How on earth did Mowgli survive 10 years if his survival instinct is absolutely zilch? I mean…he’s been there for so long, you’d think he at least would know how to open a coconut (hint: smacking it against your head is not how).
Movies from this era I will most likely rewatch: Robin Hood, Oliver & Company
Movies I might watch again: The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, The Aristocats
Movies I most likely/definitely won’t watch again: The Black Cauldron, TRON
Leave a comment with your favorite and least favorite movie from this era!
Want to keep up with this series? Be sure to subscribe!