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Dumbo
Dumbo-1941-poster.jpg
Original 1941 release poster
Directed by Ben Sharpsteen
Produced by Walt Disney
Written by Helen Aberson (book)
Harold Perl (book)
Otto Englander (story direction)
Joe Grant
Dick Huemer
Starring Edward Brophy
Herman Bing
Margaret Wright
Sterling Holloway
Cliff Edwards
Music by Frank Churchill
Lance Husher
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) October 23, 1941
Running time 64 minutes
Language English
Budget $813,000 USD
Money made $1.6,000,000

Dumbo is a 1941 animated movie produced by Walt Disney Productions and first released on October 23, 1941 by RKO Radio Pictures. The fourth movie in the Walt Disney Animated Classics, Dumbo is based upon a child's book of the same name by Helen Aberson and illustrated by Harold Perl. The main character is Jumbo Jr., a baby elephant who is cruelly nicknamed Dumbo. He is ridiculed for his big ears, but in fact he is capable of flying by using them as wings. Throughout most of the movie, his only true friend aside from his mother is the mouse Timothy, making fun of the stereotype between mice and elephants. Dumbo was made to make up for the damages of Pinocchio and Fantasia. The movie has been criticized as being racist (the leader crow in the movie was named "Jim Crow" and the name stuck), yet is also considered to be one of Disney's best movies. It was an attempt to be simple and make profits for the Disney studio, is now generally regarded as a classic of animation. At 64 minutes, it is one of Disney's shortest animated features.

The story

Mrs. Jumbo sadly looks on how babies are delivered by the stork to other circus animals. As even a baby elephant makes a pretty heavy package, hers is the last to arrive, but soon becomes the laughing stock of the others because of his big ears, getting meanly named "Dumbo" by the others. When Mrs. Jumbo can not take the public making fun of her son, she is locked up as "mad elephant", and Dumbo finds himself all alone. A mouse named Timothy comes and scares the mean herd. He encourages Dumbo and tells the circus director to make Dumbo the top (literally) of an elephant pyramid stunt which ends up literally bringing the house down, and Dumbo is given the job of clown. To cheer Dumbo up, Timothy brings him to go see his mother. The next day, they find themselves in a tree with a bunch of crows, who discover that Dumbo can fly.

Cast

  • Dumbo is the mute title character.
  • Edward Brophy: Timothy Q. Mouse
  • Herman Bing: The Ringmaster
  • Margaret Wright: Casey Junior
  • Sterling Holloway: Mr. Stork
  • Cliff Edwards: Jim Crow
  • Hall Johnson Choir: Crow Chorus
  • Verna Felton: Elephant Matriarch, Mrs. Jumbo (uncredited)
  • Noreen Gammill: Elephant Catty
  • Dorothy Scott: Elephant Giddy
  • Sarah Selby: Elephant Prissy
  • John McLeish: Narrator
  • The Sportsmen: Themselves
  • Note: These actors were not credited in the opening credits of the movie.

Crew

  • Based on the Book by: Helen Aberson & Harold Pearl
  • Supervising Director: Ben Sharpsteen
  • Screen Story by: Joe Grant & Dick Huemer
  • Story Direction: Otto Englander
  • Sequence Directors: Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Bill Roberts, Jack Kinney, Sam Armstrong
  • Animation Directors: Vladimir Tytla, Fred Moore, Ward Kimball, John Lounsbery, Art Babbitt, Woolie Reitherman
  • Story Development: Bill Peet, Aurie Battaglia, Joe Rinaldi, George Stallings, Webb Smith
  • Character Designs: John P. Miller, Martin Provenson, John Walbridge, James Bodrero, Maurice Noble, Elmer Plummer
  • Music: Oliver Wallace and Frank Churchill
  • Lyrics: Ned Washington
  • Orchestration: Edward Plumb
  • Art Direction: Herb Ryman, Ken O'Conner, Terrell Stapp, Don Da Gradi, Al Zinnen, Ernest Nordli, Dick Kelsey, Charles Payzant
  • Backgrounds: Claude Coats, Al Dempster, John Hench, Gerald Nevius, Ray Lockrem, Joe Stahley
  • Animation: Hugh Fraiser, Harvey Toombs, Milt Neil, Hicks Lokey, Howard Swift, Don Towsley, Les Clark, Claude Smith, Berny Wolf, Jack Campbell, Walt Kelly, Don Patterson, Cy Young, Ray Patterson, Grant Simmons, Josh Meador, Bill Shull, Art Palmer

Uncredited:

  • Story: Vernon Stallings
  • Art Direction: John Hubley
  • Animation Director: Frank Thomas
  • Cel Painter: Phyllis Bounds Detiege
  • Animators: Eric Larson, Retta Scott
  • Singing Voice for "Look Out for Mr. Stork": Thurl Ravenscroft

Characters

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Dumbo is the main character in the movie. He is a fictional anthropomorphic elephant who has huge ears and is able to fly, using his magic feather. Much like Dopey in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Dumbo has no spoken dialogue. However, in the live-action/puppet television series Dumbo's Circus, Dumbo was voiced by Katie Leigh.

In the movie, Dumbo is delivered by Mr. Stork, and is made fun of for the strange size of his ears. As his mother, Mrs. Jumbo, beats up the bullies who pick on her baby, the ringmaster has his helpers chain her up and lock her up in a trailer, which says: "MAD ELEPHANT". It is then that Timothy Q. Mouse looks after Dumbo. The two of them try to make Dumbo famous and get his mother free. Thanks to the help of a "magic feather" from some Crows, Dumbo flies to fame, and gets his mother free.

Timothy the Mouse

Timothy Q. Mouse is a mouse who became the only friend of elephants Dumbo and his mother Mrs. Jumbo. He teaches Dumbo how to become the ninth wonder of the universe, and the only flying elephant in the whole world.

Mrs. Jumbo

Mrs. Jumbo is Dumbo's mother. Deeply depressed at not having her baby delivered, she loves her son more than anything. She becomes angry when the boys pick on him.

Other characters include the other elephants who also make fun of Dumbo, the Ringmaster, Mr. Stork and the crows.

Release

Even though World War II was going on, Dumbo was still the most financially successful Disney movie of the 1940s. This was one of the first of Disney's animated movies to be broadcast, albeit severely edited, on television, as part of Disney's anthology series. The movie then received another distinction of note in 1981, when it was the first of Disney's canon of animated movies to be released on home video and also was released in the Walt Disney Classics Video Collection in 1985. That release was followed by remastered versions in: 1986, 1989, 1991 (Classics), and 1994 (Masterpiece). In 2001, a 60th Anniversary Special Edition was released that has original RKO titles. In 2006, a "Big Top Edition" of the movie was released on DVD that also has original RKO titles. A UK Special Edition was released in May 2007 and was a successful Disney release.

Country Premiere
 United States October 31, 1941
 Brazil November 17, 1941
 Nicaragua December 24, 1941
 United Kingdom February 8, 1942
 Canada March 31, 1942
 Chile May 23, 1942
 Australia June 4, 1942
Republic of Ireland Ireland June 5, 1942
Mexico Mexico July 9, 1942
 Argentina August 10, 1942
 Portugal November 30, 1942
 Sweden September 16, 1946
 Belgium April 25, 1947
 France October 25, 1947
 Norway December 26, 1947
 Denmark June 25, 1948
 Hong Kong August 19, 1948
 Colombia September 16, 1948
 Finland October 1, 1948
 Italy October 2, 1948
 Poland October 23, 1949
 Netherlands July 25, 1951
 West Germany April 8, 1952
 Austria May 22, 1953
 Japan March 12, 1954
 Lebanon May 14, 1968
 Kuwait October 14, 1986

Theatrical release history

United States

  • October 23, 1941 (original release)
  • May 25, 1949 (the final RKO release)
  • June 6, 1959 (the first Buena Vista release)
  • June 3, 1977

Worldwide

Home video release history

  • June 1982, 1981 (VHS and Betamax)
  • June 1982 (Laserdisc)
  • December 3, 1986 (VHS and Betamax - 45th Anniversary- Walt Disney Classics)
  • July 13, 1990 VHS and Laserdisc -walt Disney Classics
  • May 3, 1991 (VHS and Laserdisc - 50th Anniversary Edition - Walt Disney Classics)
  • October 28, 1994 (VHS and Laserdisc - Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection)
  • August 17, 1999 VHS Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection
  • October 23, 2001 (VHS and DVD - 60th Anniversary Edition)
  • June 6, 2006 (DVD - Big Top Edition)
  • February 2011 Blu-Ray and DVD- 70th Anniversary Edition

Reception

The movie received good reviews and did well at the box office despite being released less than 2 months before World War II.

It also has been known as both classic and a masterpiece,and has received a Special Edition 60th Anniversary Disney DVD on October 23, 2001, exatly 60 years after its first release. That release featured a sneak peek of a direct-to-video sequel called Dumbo II.The preview showed a lot of sketches and storyboard ideas. The main story has to do with Dumbo and his new friends getting separated from the rest of the circus as they wonder into the big city. Dumbo's new friends are Claude and Lolly the twin bears who leave chaos everywhere they go, Dot the curious zebra, Godfrey the hippo who is older and wants to do things for himself, and Penny the adventurous ostrich. Timothy returns as well. The story was supposed to be as if the first Dumbo ended and this one started the next day. The project seems to have been canceled,as no further announcements have been made since, plus the fact that The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, Tinker Bell, and its sequels, were to be the last projests for DisneyToon Studios.

The crow characters in the movie are seen as African-American stereotypes. The leader crow was originally named "Jim Crow" for script purposes, and the name stuck. The other crows are all voiced by African-American actors, all members of the Hall Johnson Choir. Despite suggestions of racism by some, many historians such as Zoe Pritchard reject these claims. For instance, the crows are noted as forming the majority of the characters in the movie who are sympathetic to Dumbo's plight (the others are Timothy Q. Mouse and Mrs Jumbo), are free spirits who serve nobody, and intelligent characters aware of the power of self-confidence, unlike the Stepin Fetchit stereotype common at that time. Furthermore, their song "When I See An Elephant Fly" is more orientated to mocking Timothy Mouse than Dumbo's large ears.

Soundtrack listing

  1. Main Title (01:47)
  2. Look Out For Mister Stork (02:16)
  3. Loading The Train / Casey Junior / Stork On A Cloud / Straight From Heaven / Mother And Baby (04:58)
  4. Song Of The Roustabouts (02:38)
  5. Circus Parade (01:28)
  6. Bathtime / Hide And Seek (01:31)
  7. Ain't That The Funniest Thing / Berserk / Dumbo Shunned / A Mouse! / Dumbo And Timothy (03:23)
  8. The Pyramid Of Pachyderms (01:58)
  9. No Longer An Elephant / Dumbo's Sadness / A Visit In The Night / Baby Mine (03:34)
  10. Clown Song (01:00)
  11. Hiccups / Firewater / Bubbles / Did You See That? / Pink Elephants On Parade (06:07)
  12. Up A Tree / The Fall / Timothy's Theory (01:32)
  13. When I See An Elephant Fly (01:48)
  14. You Oughta Be Ashamed (01:10)
  15. The Flight Test / When I See An Elephant Fly (Reprise) (00:57)
  16. Save My Child / The Threshold Of Success / Dumbo's Triumph / Making History / Finale (02:14)
  17. Spread Your Wing (Demo Recording) (01:08)

Songs

  • Baby Mine (Betty Noyes)
  • Casey Junior (The Sportsmen)
  • Look Out for Mr. Stork (The Sportsmen)
  • Song of the Roustabouts (The King's Men)
  • The Clown Song (A.K.A."We're gonna hit the big boss for a rise") (Billy Bletcher,Eddie Holden,and Billy Sheets)
  • Pink Elephants on Parade (The Sportsmen)
  • When I See an Elephant Fly (Cliff Edwards and the Hall Johnson Choir)
  • When I See an Elephant Fly (Reprise)

Media and marketing

Dumbo's Circus

Dumbo's Circus was a live-action puppet television programme for preschool audiences that aired on The Disney Channel in the 1980s. Unlike in the movie, Dumbo spoke on the show. Each character would perform a special act, which ranged from dancing and singing to telling knock knock jokes.

Books

  • Walt Disney's Dumbo
  • Dumbo (My First Disney Story)
  • Fly, Dumbo, Fly!
  • I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem

Theme parks

Dumbo the Flying Elephant is a popular ride that appears in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Park (Paris), and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Video games

Dumbo appears as a hero in the game Kingdom Hearts. Sora, the main character, flies on him and Dumbo splashes enemies with water from his trunk.

Titles in other languages

(NOTE: Most of the above titles were later renamed simply Dumbo.)

Directing animators

  • Art Babbitt (Mr. Stork, Clowns)
  • Ward Kimball (The Crows)
  • John Lounsbery (Timothy Mouse and Dumbo)
  • Wolfgang Reitherman (Timothy Mouse)
  • Vladimir Tytla (Dumbo, the elephants)
  • Fred Moore (Timothy Mouse)
  • Frank Thomas (Pink Elephants)
  • Note:All directing animators were credited on supervising these characters except Frank Thomas.

Sequence directors

  • Wilfred Jackson (Dumbo)
  • Jack Kinney (The Crows)
  • Sam Armstrong (Casey Junior, Mr. Stork)
  • Bill Roberts (Timothy Mouse, Clowns)
  • Norman Ferguson (Pink Elephants, Circus animals)

Dumbo Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.