D: Ben Sharpsteen

RKO/Disney (Walt Disney)

USA 🇺🇸 1941

64 mins


W: Otto Englander, Joe Grant & Dick Huemer [based on the story by Helen Aberson & Arnold Pearl]

Mus: Frank Churchill & Oliver Wallace

voices of: Edward Brophy (Timothy Mouse), Verna Felton (Elephant Matriarch), Cliff Edwards (Jim Crow), Herman Bing (The Ringmaster), Sterling Holloway (Mr. Stork)

Walt Disney's personal favourite of all his animated feature films, possibly because it saved his studio from financial ruin after the box office failure of Fantasia. At a mere 64 minutes, Dumbo is the shortest of the Disney animated classics, and for me, I personally think it's one of the weakest.

Of course, if I were to watch this in 1941, I may have thought differently but looking back retrospectively, I just think it was an easy profit earner for Uncle Walt.

Based on a children's story by Helen Aberson, the story follows the title character, a mute elephant with oversized ears, who, with the help of his friend Timothy Mouse and some racially-caricatured crows, discovers his ability to fly.

The film is very much stuck in its own time, set in 1940's America and seemingly very dated now.

The music, songs and standard of animation are all good for the period, but it really hasn't withstood its age like Pinocchio or Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs have, even though both precede this movie.

It's no surprise that a live action remake (directed by Tim Burton) was released in 2019. If anything, Disney Studios profit-driven ambition will always try to be a successful one.