It’s slightly insane that we go through two and a half years of a podcast on things we enjoyed when we were young without covering any Disney movies. (Though we did discuss the Mouse House back in Episode #6, which was about Disney pop singles a la Peabo Bryson’s “A Whole New World.”)
Nowadays, Disney is one of the safest and most careful brands out there. So it was particularly fun to go back to a time when Walt Disney was taking risks — his first five animated features were all daring and different in some way. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), and Bambi (1942) are all pretty much masterpieces, nailing it right out of the gate. They’re dark, funny, and gorgeously animated — each film has indelible sequences that make it easy to see how Disney became the legend he did.
These five films are some of the best ever produced, and it’s definitely the highest-quality streak Disney had at least up until The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. (Coming soon to a podcast near you — the Disney Renaissance.) Pinocchio is my favorite all-time Disney film, largely on the strength of its story, but my first viewing of Bambi as an adult catapulted it up there, too. The animation is incredible (probably Disney’s best) and it’s a marvel of simple, straightforward, economical storytelling, too.
Disney obviously gets plenty of credit these days, but these five films truly are something special.