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Monday, April 23, 2012

Disneyear: So Dear to My Heart (1948)

Ok. First off: I'm sorry I haven't posted in over a week. I've had writer's block like you wouldn't believe.

Second: I know what you're thinking: "Wait a minute! You just reviewed Mary Poppins. Aren't you reviewing these in chronological order? Why are you going backwards?" Well, I'll be honest here, when I went to look up the Disney animated films on Wikipedia and I found this one under the "live action/animation mixes", I was kind of surprised. I've never heard of this film! I really thought that I knew all that there was about Disney animation, but nope. This one slipped under my radar. I even had a hard time finding a decent copy of this movie too. So after some consideration, I decided that I should at least watch it to get my two cents out. Let's see if this little film should be treasured or sacrificed to the mouse God of Mickey.

The film takes place in Indiana, around 1903. After seeing the best race horse back then, named Dan Patch, little Jeremiah Kincaid is inspired to raise his own little prize-winning animal. The best thing around is a baby black sheep who he names "Danny". After Danny's mother rejects him in favor of his white-fleeced sibling (man, who'd have thought that even sheep back then were racists...) Jeremiah wants to raise the little lamb as a pet. Despite concerns from his strict but loving grandmother about black sheep being destructive (seems to be a theme here), Danny decides to enter Danny eventually in the Pike County Fair, where he tries to prove that Danny isn't as people think he is. With the help of his uncle Hiram (played by Burl Ives), he manages to tame and enter Danny in the fair. Everything goes well until Danny runs away. Every one finds him the next day but Jeremiah decides to change his mind at first since his granny made him realize that the only thing he focused on was winning the fair. Granny helps turn him around and everyone goes to the fair. Danny actually loses the contest but leaves with an honorable mention.

Alright. That's the best summary I can give. You know, I can't help but compare this to Song of the South released earlier because these two are so similar in content. It's the same story: Bobby Driscol finds a friend in what society deems unacceptable. One an old black dude and the other a black sheep. The parental figures are a little too protective and judgmental and there's even a little girl who I swear was also in Song of the South, but I could be wrong. I'm sure a lot of people that grew up with this movie will like it for nostalgic reasons, but I think I may have seen this too late. I kind of found it underwhelming. Nothing really exiting happens in the movie and I can't recall anything really that much from it. Song of the South to me, is the superior film because it took far more risks by making the issues about race relations back then. This just seemed to play it safe and far less engaging. Oh and Bobby Driscol looks kind of angry in most of the scenes, which bugged me.

The animated bits.... why where they here? They served no purpose to the story whatsoever. Well, I looked up on IMDB that Disney added these scenes in at the last minute because he thought that people wouldn't see this unless there was some animation in it... that's kind of a poor excuse. That's like if George Lucas changed the original Indiana Jones movie because he thought it would be cool if aliens were in it.

And look how great THAT turned out!

Well, I guess the're not all bad since this is where most of the movie's morals come from. Mostly in song. And I have to admit, some of these are ok. Nothing great or spectacular, but ok.

So what's good about this film? For one, it's morals are actually kind of nice. They're good lessons that I guess help our heroes in the end and sort of stick with you. The songs range from okay to almost unnecessary. Nothing that special. Burl Ives was kind of nice even though he wasn't in it very much from what I can remember. ... And that's about all I can say about it.

In conclusion, this is a pretty mediocre kids movie. It doesn't stand out that much from other Disney features, especially since it's so similar to a certain other film released in 1946, which doesn't really help make it any stronger. I suppose younger kids and older audiences that grew up with this film will still appreciate it. If you're still curious about this film, I guess go check it out and see if it's up you're alley. Me? You're better off watching Song of the South. It's the exact same movie, but better.


Pokey said...

Little girl in this one who looks like "Song of the South"'s? That's because it is! Luana Patten, who appeared in other Disney films, too, likewise Bobby Driscoll.


Justin Smith said...

Another piece of the puzzle fits. Thanks for the info, Steve.