Cinderella (1950) / Animation-Fantasy
MPAA Rated: G, suitable for all audiences
Running Time: 74 min.
Cast (voices): Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Rhoda Williams, James MacDonald, Luis Van Rooten
Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
Screenplay: Bill Peet, Erdman Penner, Ken Anderson, Ted Sears, Winston Hibler
Review published March 18, 2015
Introductions are hardly necessary for the venerable animated classic Cinderella, Disney's second "Princess" movie (after Snow White), and the one that took the company that had been struggling to survive through the 1940s back to prominence and financial success.
The story involves young Cinderella, who has been living with her not-so-kind stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and her two cruel stepsisters, forced to do all of their menial labor around the house in perpetual servitude. When she hears that all of the eligible ladies of the kingdom are hereby invited to the royal ball by the king, who desperately wants his son, the prince, to marry and fill the house with the laughter of children, her heart soars at finally being able to socialize with people other than the various animals around the castle. When Lady Tremaine pulls the rug out from under Cinderella's plans, its going to take a little bit of magic to make things happen for her, even though her chance to be the belle of the ball will end at the last stroke of midnight, and she'll go back to her former life --- unless...
Disney approaches Cinderella utilizing a blend of fluid animated movements mixed with a simplicity in design that emphasizes color and outline more so than intricate design. The voice work is especially good, with memorable vocal elements provided by a pitch-perfect Ilene Woods as Cinderella, a fierce Eleanor Audley as the wicked Lady Tremaine, and a pleasant, whimsical Verna Felton as the Fairy Godmother. At only 74 minutes, the story doesn't feel rushed. In fact, it feels a bit padded out, filling up much of its early run time with the adventures of the anthropomorphic animals, such as the mice and their travails with Lucifer the cat, and Cinderella's connection with the only friends she has known -- the animals around the estate. And, of course, there are all of the songs that express the emotional elements underneath.
Eye-poppingly colorful, lushly scored, and filled with lots of cute and funny moments to entertain the very young, Cinderella may skew quite young in terms of its target audience, but it's charming and delightful in its own ways to put a smile on the faces of the young at heart. While the inordinate amount of time spent on the mice and an ornery cat does often feel like more filler to entertain viewers barely past toddler age, there's enough of interest otherwise to make Cinderella an enduring, if not perfect, classic to watch from one generation to next.
-- Followed by the straight to video sequels, Cinderella II: Dreams Come true (2002) and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007). Elements of the film resurface in Disney's own live-action reinterpretation, Cinderella (2015)
©2015 Vince Leo