Fun and Fancy Free

Welcome Back! Fun & Fancy Free is a Disney classic. It is the 4th package film and the 9th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics. It was released September 27, 1947. It was produced by Walt Disney and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. Fun & Fancy Free was the last time Walt Disney voiced Mickey Mouse. The film has two segments: Bongo and Mickey and the Beanstalk.

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History:

Fun and Fancy Frees animation was directed by Jack Kinney (Pinocchio, Dumbo, Saludos Amigos-The Adv. of Ichabod & Mr. Toad, Peter Pan), Bill Roberts (Snow White-The Three Caballeros), and Hamilton Luske (Snow White-Fantasia, Saludos Amigos, Make Mine Music, Melody Time, Cinderella-Lady and the Tramp, Mary Poppins). Fun and Fancy Frees live-action was directed by William Morgan (Lassie, Song of the South, Gift From Havana).

Fun and Fancy Free was written by Homer Brightman (Saludos Amigos-Cinderella), Eldon Dedini, Lance Nolley (Fantasia, The Three Caballeros-Lady and the Tramp), Tom Oreb (Pinocchio, Make Mine Music, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians), Harry Reeves (Saludos Amigos, Melody Time-Cinderella), and Ted Sears (Snow White, Pinocchio, Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Melody Time-Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty).

Originally, Mickey and the Beanstalk were going to be separate feature films. Mickey Mouse’s popularity fell behind Donald, Goofy, and Popeye. Walt Disney helped popularize Mickey by creating shorts like The Brave Little Tailer and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Fantasia). When Fantasia was being produced, animators Bill Cottrell and T. Hee pitched the idea of Jack and the Beanstalk, but make Mickey as Jack, and Donald and Goofy as supporting characters. Disney was overjoyed by this. “However, he said as much as he enjoyed it, the film would never go into production because as Disney claimed, they murdered his characters. However, Cottrell and Hee were able to talk Disney into giving it the greenlight and story development as The Legend of Happy Valley, which commenced on May 2, 1940.” (Wikipedia)

The original treatment stayed the same, but there are a few deleted scenes. For example, Mickey takes a cow to the market where he meets Honest John and Gideon (Pinocchio) who convince him to trade the cow for the magic beans. Another version had Mickey give the cow to the Queen (Minnie Mouse) as a gift and in return, she gave him the magic beans. Both scenes were cut once the story became Fun & Fancy Free.

After, Dumbo was complete, production began on Fun and Fancy Free. Since, it was a simple, low-budget movie only 6 months and 50 minutes, the Happy Valley scene was animated. Then because, of the Disney strike and World War 2, the movie was put on hold.

Then production was started on Bongo. It was suggested that Bongo could be a prequel to Dumbo and some of the cast from Dumbo would appear as supporting characters, but the idea never materialized. In earlier drafts, Bongo had a Chimpanzee friend and partner in his circus act. The character called Beverly and then Chimpy was dropped. Chimpy and Bongo met two mischievous bear cubs, but they were dropped also. The designs were originally realistic, but once it was paired with Fun & Fancy Free, it became more simple and cartoon-like. The script was almost complete the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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That same day, the army came and took over all production. That caused Bongo, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, Song of the South, and The Legend of Happy Valley to be on hold. The military asked Disney to make propaganda and instructional films. During and after the war, Disney didn’t make single narrative films, but package films due to costs. He did this until he had enough money to make a single narrative film again (Cinderella- 1950).

Disney felt that Bongo and The Legend of Happy Valley (Mickey and the Beanstalk) was not sophisticated enough to be a Disney animated feature film, so the artists made them it into package films. Originally, Mickey and the Beanstalk was to be paired with The Wind in the Willows under the title, Two Fabulous Characters. Instead, Mickey was cut and paired with Bongo. Two Fabulous Characters was changed to The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.

Walt Disney was the voice of Mickey Mouse since his debut in 1928. Walt Disney didn’t have the time nor the energy to continue the role after Fun and Fancy Free. Jimmy MacDonald dubbed a few additional lines in the movie, so he would have enough practice to be the new voice of Mickey. Celebrities Edgar Bergen and Dinah Shore introduce the segments. Jiminy Cricket returns and sings a song intended for Pinocchio “I’m a Happy-go-Lucky-Fellow.”

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The box office was 2.4 million.

The Making Of:

Animation:

The directing animators include:

  • Ward Kimball (Jiminy Cricket, Donald Duck, Lumpjaw)
  • Les Clark (Singing Harp, Lulubelle)
  • John Lounsbery (Willie the Giant)
  • Fred Moore (Mickey)
  • Wolfgang Reitherman (Goofy)
  • Art Babbitt (Bongo)

Music:

The music is by Oliver Wallace (Dumbo, The Adv. of Ichabod and Mr. Toad-Lady and the Tramp), Paul Smith (Snow White-Fantasia, Bambi-The Three Caballeros, Melody Time, Cinderella), Eliot Daniel (Make Mine Music, Melody Time, So Dear to my Heart), and Charles Wolcott (Pinocchio, Bambi-Make Mine Music, Adv. of Ichabod and Mr. Toad).

Cast:

  • Edgar Bergen as Himself (Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd); The Muppet Movie
  • Luana Patten as Herself; Song of the South, Johnny Tremain, So Dear to My Heart, Follow Me Boys, Melody Time
  • Dinah Shore as Narrator of Bongo and Singer; Singer
  • Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket; Pinocchio, Gone With the Wind, Dumbo
  • Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse
  • Clarence Nash as Donald Duck; Voices Donald in shorts, Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, etc.
  • Pinto Colvig as Goofy; Voices Goofy in Shorts & Pluto, Doc and Sleepy in Snow White, etc.
  • Billy Gilbert as Willy the Giant; The Great Dictator, His Girl Friday
  • Anita Gordon as Singing Harp; Paint Your Wagon, Chameleon Street

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Original Story:

Bongo was inspired by a story written by Sinclair Lewis, which appeared in a 1930 issue of Cosmopolitan; “Little Bear Bongo.” Sinclair Lewis was the first writer from the United States to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.

“”Mickey and the Beanstalk” is an adaptation of the English fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk”. The earliest version of the story in print was a 1807 one by Benjamin Tabart (1767-1833). However, his version was overshadowed by two later and more popular versions, a 1842 one by Henry Cole (1808-1882) and a 1890 one by Joseph Jacobs (1854-1916). Most of the 20th century adaptations were based on Jacobs’ version.” (IMDB)

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Fun Facts:

  • Originally, Sterling Holloway was to be the narrator in Mickey and the Beanstalk segment. (Also, in other versions (I’m guessing edited) Professor Ludwig Von Drake narrates the segment.

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  • Willie the Giant appears in Mickey’s Christmas Carol in 1983.

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  • Early drafts for Mickey and the Beanstalk, include Willie the Giant having a wife and a baby. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy would end up taking care of the baby.
  • Also, the hen who laid the golden eggs was present.

Awards/Accomplishments:

The film had fairly decent reception. It helped finance Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan.

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Controversies/Complaints:

I couldn’t find any controversy toward this movie.

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Setting:

There isn’t any confirmed location or time. The Bongo segment seems sort of “modern” and in the United States. So, the Bongo segment is most likely set in the US in the 1940s.

Mickey and the Beanstalk segment are set in Happy Valley. There isn’t any real place (similar to Fantasia). It’s just in its own magical kingdom. It’s possible it’s set in the 1800s since that’s when the original story took place, but there isn’t any evidence to support that theory.

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Characters:

  • Mickey Mouse: The hero of the movie wants to save the Golden Harp from Willie and save Happy Valley.
  • Donald Duck: Mickey’s side kick in the movie is very hungry.
  • Goofy: Mickey’s other side kick in the movie, is very clumsy.
  • Jiminy Cricket: Our favorite cricket is back and he helps narrate some of the movie.
  • Willie the Giant: The villain of the movie; Very powerful and knows magic, but he isn’t very smart. He wants to keep the Golden Harp.
  • Golden Harp: A golden musical harp with a beautiful voice. She keeps the land happy.
  • Bongo: A bear cub who escapes the circus. He falls in love with Lulubelle.
  • Lulubelle: Bongo’s girlfriend and a sweet bear cub who only loves Bongo.
  • Lumpjaw: The villain of the movie. He wants Lulubelle all for himself.
  • Minor Characters: Forest Animals, Bear Couples

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Songs:

  • Fun and Fancy Free: This song plays over the introduction credits.
  • I’m a Happy-Go-Lucky-Fellow: This song introduces us again to Jiminy Cricket.
  • Lazy Countryside: This song is used when Bongo is discovering the countryside.
  • Too Good to be True: This song is used to show Bongo and Lulubelle fall in love.
  • Say it With a Slap: A song to show the bear’s affection.
  • My, What a Happy Day: The song the Golden Harp sings to keep the kingdom happy.
  • Eat Until I Die: The song Goofy and Donald sing while they wait for Mickey to bring some food.
  • Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum: The catchy song the Giant sings to use his magic powers.
  • My Favorite Dream: The song the Golden Harp uses to put the Giant to sleep.

Before the Film:

I saw the movie a long time ago, but I don’t remember much. I already own the DVD, but here is the link:

Plot:

We see Jiminy Cricket again. Jiminy Cricket finds a record with the name Bongo on it, and plays it. We meet Bongo, who is the star of the circus, but he isn’t treated like a star once the show is done. He’s chained, locked up, and abused. Most, of all he’s sad once the curtains come down. Bongo escapes the circus and goes into the wilderness. After, discovering the countryside, Bongo decides to go to sleep, but becomes terrified. The next morning, after some problems, he sees the lovely Lulubelle. Then the love scene happens. Then Lumpjaw comes along. Lulubelle slaps Bongo to show her affection, but he misunderstands, thinking Lulubelle doesn’t like him. Then she accidently slaps Lumpjaw and he misunderstands, thinking Lulubelle to like him. She thinks Bongo isn’t interested, because he did not slap her back. Then Bongo understands, and he beats up Lumpjaw. Then Lumpjaw falls off a waterfall, presumably to his death. Bongo survives, everyone cheers, Bongo and Lulubelle slap each other, and everyone lives happily ever after. That’s the end for the first segment.

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Then Jiminy Cricket goes to hear the next story where he meets Luana, puppets, and Edgar Bergen. Edgar tells the next segment: Mickey and the Beanstalk.

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We go to Happy Valley where a Golden Harp sings and keeps the land happy. One day, she is taken and Happy Valley is no longer happy. It dries up and the kingdom has no food. We meet our three heroes, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. They are starving, because their cow is unable to provide milk. Donald becomes crazy with starvation and tries to kill the cow. Mickey and Goofy stop Donald. Mickey goes to sell the cow to get some food. Instead, he brings back magic beans which enrages Donald and makes him go crazy again. While, they sleep, the magic beanstalk grows. They climb it all the way to the sky. They come to a land where everything is bigger than them. They see a table full of giant food and start chowing down. Willie the Giant comes along, and can smell the three friends; they hide. Willie the Giant ends up catching Mickey, but Mickey tries to trick Willie. It doesn’t work and he captures Donald and Goofy. The Golden Harp uses her singing to put Willie to sleep. The four friends escape while Willie is right behind. They cut down the beanstalk and Willie falls down, and “dies.” The Golden Harp is returned and Happy Valley is happy again. It turns out Willie isn’t dead. He picks up the roof, and surprises Mr. Bergen, making him pass out. He goes on to find Mickey while Jiminy runs away. The End

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Positive:

I like the first part of Bongo where it shows sort of the cruelty of the circus. It gives it a realistic feel and I think it was sort of daring, especially in the 1940s. I could imagine that they wouldn’t be allowed to speak about the troubles of the circus. The rest of the Bongo segment is funny. Bongo and Lulubelle are adorable characters. Some of the music is really good. Luana is a good actress. Both narrators are great.

The second half: The Mickey and the Beanstalk are fantastic. It has great animation, great characters, beautiful music, and a wonderful story. It could’ve been a great movie by itself, if they had made it longer. Its full of suspense and charm, and it’s just wonderful.

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Negative:

The first part with Jiminy Cricket isn’t really necessary. It could’ve saved time by excluding it. The rest of the Bongo segment is really weird. Basically, two little bear cubs fall in love, and then a big bear comes along, and attempts to ruin the relationship. One of the reasons it is weird is because Bongo and Lulubelle are little, and Lumpjaw is an adult. So, it’s weird he’s interested in a little girl bear. Then they slap each other to show affection. I think the movie would’ve been stronger if they chose another segment, because the Mickey and the Beanstalk is really good, but the Bongo segment is forgettable and weird.

Then there is a grown man, some puppets, and a little girl together. The whole part is just really creepy and completely unnecessary. I think that they should’ve gone with Sterling like they were originally going to do for the narrator.

I wish that they had kept the segment where Mickey meets Queen Minnie, and she gives him the beans. It would’ve explained where Mickey got the beans and it would’ve provided some backstory. Also, it would’ve been great to see Minnie especially since she’s one of the few original characters that aren’t in the Disney animated canon. The only other characters are Pluto and Pete, even Daisy is in one of the movies.

Overall Opinion:

Fun and Fancy Free is an interesting movie. It’s a good, bad, and plain old weird movie. The Bongo segment isn’t very good. It starts off good showing the trouble of the circus life for the animals. If, they had expanded on that more, and excuded the second half of Bongo, that segment would’ve been a lot stronger; or they could’ve used that as just a normal cartoon short, and either made the Mickey segment longer (making it its own movie) or put in a different segment. The Bongo segment did have two adorable characters and a few good songs, but it’s a pretty forgetful segment. The weird part is where me get stuck in a room with Mr. Bergen (a grown man), Luana (a little girl), and some puppets. While, Luana is adorable and a great actress, and so is Mr. Bergen. The section is extremely weird and creepy. The movie would’ve been so much better if they just left out this part. The good is The Mickey and the Beanstalk segment. It has great characters, great animation, great songs, and a great story. It’s full of suspense, it’s hilarious, and it’s incredibly entertaining to watch. If only Mickey and the Beanstalk was by itself, because it’s great, and I can’t give it the grade I want to, because the first half isn’t great. I do recommend the movie. Overall, I rate it a B+.

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Favorite Character:

While, Mickey may be the main character, it’s really Donald that is the star of the show. Donald is hilarious and his reactions to everything are great. Donald literally goes crazy and wants to kill everything on sight.

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Favorite Song:

My favorite song is My, What a Happy Day. The song is incredibly catchy and it has great animation. The Golden Harp has a beautiful voice.

Favorite Scene:

My favorite scene is when Mickey comes back with magic beans, and Donald literally goes crazy. The scene is hilarious. He gets really upset with Mickey and you feel so bad for all three.

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What did you think of the movie? What was your favorite scene?

Next, up would’ve been The Humpbacked Horse, but it isn’t an hour long. So, I’m not going to bother doing a review on it. The Humpbacked Horse was released on 1947 in the Soviet Union/Russia. It was directed by Ivan Ivanov-Vano and the studio was Soyuzmultifilm. The movie is in Russian, but it does have English subtitles. Here is the link if you would like to watch it:

Then, the next movie would’ve been Alegres Vacaciones, but I can’t find the movie. There isn’t even a Wikipedia link on it. The only thing I know about the film is that it was released in 1948 in Spain. It was traditional. It was directed by Jose Maria Blay, Guido Leoni, and Arturo Moreno.

The movie that I’ll actually be doing next time is the Disney classic Melody Time. It is the 5th out of the 6th package film. It was released in 1948. It is half live-action and half traditional. I’ve seen it before, but I don’t really remember anything about the film.

(I do not own pictures, videos, etc. My information came from my own knowledge of the film, Fun and Fancy Free DVD, Wikipedia, IMDB, and DisneyWiki.)

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7 thoughts on “Fun and Fancy Free

  1. The Bongo segment is just weird…and when it boils down to it, it actually doesn’t have much to say. I agree with you, they should have paired Mickey and the Beanstalk with something else, preferable a bunch of “Mickey in Fairy tales” stories, along the line of the brave little Tailor (which was long released at this point, but would have been a way better fit). Though Mickey and the Beanstalk has it’s own set of problems (If Willie is magical, why doesn’t he use his magic against Mickey and his friends?)

    The connective segment is especially bad, the worst Disney has ever done, even worse than in Fantasia 2000 and that is saying something. It is so random and strangely creepy. I guess those people were kind of well-known in the US back then but otherwise there are grown up men trying to entertain one little girl. WTF? Who thought that this would be a good idea?

    You know, I never saw ANY of those package movie when I was a child, Instead I had most of the shorts separated from each other, each of them with Walt Disney in a library doing a short introduction beforehand. That’s a way better solution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would’ve loved to see Mickey in Fairy Tales. I need to watch The Brave Little Tailor again. I don’t really remember it. I figured Willie didn’t use his magic because he wasn’t really smart, and the idea never occurred to him. He also had a temper lol. Yea it was really weird to watch. In other releases, they had the Professor Ludwig duck, which is what I grew up on seeing. The same here besides Saludos Amigos. I’m glad I didn’t see the package films the full way, because most of them are weird together. I feel bad for the people in the 40s. I wish they had done that, but oh well lol.

      Like

  2. This was a great article, but I don’t really agree with everything said. I actually love the entire film and I was raised watching Bongo together with Mickey and the Beanstalk. I love the way that Jiminy Cricket is in it narrating it. His presence seems to really connect the two segments of the film, which otherwise have absolutely NOTHING to do with each other. In other words, I think that if Disney was determined to put Bongo and Mickey together, he NEEDED Jiminy to really connect the two segments. Personally, as well, I’ve always thought that Bongo was better than Mickey and the Beanstalk, but I never really thought about the fact that Bongo and Lulubelle are kids while Lumpjaw is an adult until now… Lol. Anyhow, GREAT article and good read.

    Liked by 1 person

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