Pinocchio, the character, was created by Carlo Collodi in 1883. The darling boy made from a block of wood by Geppetto the woodcarver was first introduced in the tale The Adventures of Pinocchio. Collodi was very keen on using a impish, sarcastic character to explore his own personal convictions and cultural and political critiques. As late as 1938, this was how Walt Disney had characterized the much beloved wooden puppet who wanted to be a real boy. Disney, feeling that this version of Pinocchio may not be well liked across the board, froze production on his second animated feature. He asked for a total rethinking of the character, including how he would move, dress, and look.
Initially, Pinocchio looked just like a puppet, with a pointed nose, pointed cap, and bare wooden hands. The new characterization of Pinocchio incoporated a rounded face, gloved five-fingered hands, and the distinct Tyrolean hat. Moreover, Disney did way with Pinocchio's original cynicism and ennui and instead opted to make Pinocchio Significantly more nave and childlike. Likewise, the part of the cricket was rethought and expanded from Collodi's original idea. Not initially in the film production, the cricket was given a extensive part and re-named Jiminy Cricket. He would come to be the voice of Pinocchio's principles.
Ward Kimball, one of Disney's best animators, redrew the character to look like the dapper gentleman we are accustomed to today. He was unforgettably voiced by Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards, the popular jazz vocalist and ukulele player Gideon the Cat was slated to be voiced by Mel Blanc, the famous voice of Bugs Bunny. Disney decided, however, to make Gideon mute, giving Foulfellow the Fox the bulk of the dialogue. All of Blanc's recorded dialogue, according to Wikipedia, was removed except for a lone hiccup we hear three times throughout the film.
When Pinocchio was released in February of 1940, it was successful, but not as successful as Snow White. The total cost of the production was about $2.3 million, about twice as much as Snow White, yet it only recouped $1.9 million. The box office totals were hindered by the outbreak of World War II in Europe. Moreover, the film lacked a romantic element that had made Snow White so well-loved.
Despite all these obstacles, Pinocchio was a significant success, including the song "When You Wish Upon A Star," which would go on to be used as Disney's memorable fanfare. The song went on to win the Academy Award for Best Song. In 1994, Pinocchio was added to the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." It is considered to be the best example of hand-drawn, pre-computer-aided Disney animation.
Steve Collins is an Author and Journalist based in Encino, CA. An avid Disney Fan, he uses Disney Movie Club to complete his collection. Read his reviews of movies purchased from the Disney Movie Club