Cinderella is a 1950 American animated film produced by Walt Disney which was based on the fairy tale "Cinderella" by Charles Perrault. As the 12th feature in the Disney Animated Canon, the film had a limited release on February 15, 1950 by RKO Radio Pictures before being released nationwide on March 4. The film was directed by Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, and Wilfred Jackson while the songs were written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman. Songs in the film include "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", "So This is Love", "Sing, Sweet Nightingale", "The Work Song", and the opening credit song titled "Cinderella".
The film was a massive critical and commercial success upon release and reinvigorated the Disney company when they were nearing bankruptcy after a loss of over $4 million from the then-recent failures Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi. The film's "classic" status and success continue to this day.
It is considered one of the best American animated films ever made, as selected by the American Film Institute and was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2018. A live-action adaptation of the film was released in 2015.
Cinderella is the much-loved daughter of a widowed aristocrat, who decides to remarry, believing his beloved daughter needs a mother's care. Ultimately, Cinderella's father marries Lady Tremaine, a proud and confident woman with two daughters just Cinderella's age from a previous marriage named Drizella and Anastasia. The plain and socially awkward stepsisters are bitterly envious of Cinderella's beauty. After Cinderella's father dies, Lady Tremaine reveals herself to be a cold and cruel tyrant who shares her daughters' jealousy of Cinderella's charm and beauty. Lady Tremaine and her daughters take over the estate and begin to abuse and mistreat Cinderella, ultimately forcing her to become a scullery maid in her own home, while also squandering off the fortune until there is nearly nothing left. Despite this, Cinderella remains a kind and gentle woman, befriending the animals in the barn and the mice and birds who live around the château. For with each dawn, she finds new hope that someday her dreams of happiness will soon come true.
One morning, Cinderella and the mice found a new mouse in the house who was caught in a mouse trap. She gives him the name Octavius (or Gus for short) and some new clothes and informs Jaq to warn Gus about Lucifer, Lady Tremaine's wicked cat. The two mice spy on Lucifer as Cinderella starts her chores. When Cinderella is giving breakfast to the animals, Lucifer chases Gus, and he hides under Anastasia's teacup. Cinderella delivers breakfast to her stepfamily. When Anastasia opens her teacup and finds Gus, she screams to her mother about it right after accusing Cinderella. Lady Tremaine punishes Cinderella with extra chores.
At the royal palace, the King and the Grand Duke organize a ball in an effort to find a suitable wife for Prince Charming, considering the fact that the King wants to see grandchildren before his death. Every eligible maiden in the kingdom is requested to attend. Cinderella asks her stepmother if she can attend since she is still part of the family. Lady Tremaine agrees, provided if Cinderella finishes her chores and finds a nice dress to wear. With Cinderella too distracted with extra chores, her animal friends, led by Mary, Jaq, and Gus, fix up a gown that belonged to Cinderella's late mother. They go downstairs and scoop up Drizella's old beads and Anastasia's old sash after they throw them on the floor, escaping with them before Lucifer catches them. The animals finish Cinderella's dress just as the carriage arrives. When Cinderella comes down wearing her new dress, Lady Tremaine compliments the gown, pointing out the beads and sash. Angered by the apparent theft of their discarded items by their stepsister, the stepsisters viciously rip the gown into rags before snootily leaving for the ball with Lady Tremaine. Heartbroken, Cinderella runs outside to the garden and begins to cry.
At the point of giving up her dreams, Cinderella's Fairy Godmother appears and bestows upon Cinderella a new ball gown with a pair of glass slippers. She also transforms a pumpkin into a carriage, the mice into horses, Major the horse into a coachman, and Bruno the dog into a footman. Cinderella departs for the ball after her godmother warns her that the spell will break at the stroke of midnight. At the ball, the Prince rejects every girl until he sees Cinderella. The two fall strongly in love and dance alone throughout the castle grounds. Her stepfamily doesn't recognize her, but Lady Tremaine thinks there's something familiar about her. She is unable to make the connection before the Grand Duke closes the curtain to give the couple some privacy.
As the clock starts to chime midnight, Cinderella flees to her coach and away from the castle, dropping one of her glass slippers by accident. The Duke sends the guards to stop them, but Cinderella and the animals hide from them. After her gown turns back into rags, the mice point out that the other slipper is still on her foot, and she thanked the Fairy Godmother for everything. Back at the castle, the Duke tells the King of the disaster. However, he also reveals that the Prince will not marry anyone except the owner of the slipper and sets out to find her.
The next morning, the King proclaims that the Grand Duke will visit every house in the kingdom to find the girl whose foot fits the glass slipper so that she can be married to the Prince. When news reaches Cinderella's household, her stepmother and stepsisters prepare for the Duke's arrival. Overhearing this, Cinderella dreamily hums the song played at the ball. Realizing that Cinderella was the girl who danced with the Prince, Lady Tremaine follows Cinderella to her room and locks her stepdaughter in the attic in one final ditch attempt to shatter her dreams.
When the Duke arrives, the mice retrieve the key to Cinderella's room from the stepmother's pocket and bring it upstairs, but before they can deliver it, they are ambushed by Lucifer, who traps Gus under a cup. With the help of the other mice, birds, and Bruno, they chase him out the window and Cinderella is freed. As the Duke prepares to leave after the stepsisters unsuccessfully try on the slipper, Cinderella appears and requests to try it on. Knowing the slipper will fit, Lady Tremaine trips the footman, causing him to drop and shatter the slipper. Cinderella then produces the other glass slipper, much to her stepmother's horror. Delighted at this complete irrefutable proof of the maiden's identity, the Duke slides the slipper onto her foot and it fits perfectly.
Cinderella and Prince Charming celebrate their wedding and live happily ever after.
- Ilene Woods as the voice of Cinderella
- Eleanor Audley as the model and voice of Lady Tremaine
- Verna Felton as the voice of Fairy Godmother
- Claire Du Brey as the model for Fairy Godmother
- Rhoda Williams as the model and voice of Drizella
- Jimmy MacDonald as the voice of Jaq and Gus
- Helene Stanley as the model of Cinderella and Anastasia
- Luis van Rooten as the voice of the King and the Grand Duke
- Don Barclay as the voice of Doorman
- Lucille Bliss as the voice of Anastasia
- John Fontaine as the model for Prince Charming and additional voices
- Mike Douglas as Prince Charming's singing voice
- William Phipps as Prince Charming's speaking voice
- Marion Darlington and Clarence Nash provided whistling for the birds
- Earl Keen as the voice of Bruno and Major
- John Woodbury
- Lucille Williams as the voice of Perla
- June Foray provided vocal effects of Lucifer
- Thurl Ravenscroft as the voice of Mouse
- Clint McCauley, June Sullivan, and Helen Seibert voiced various mice
- Betty Lou Gerson as the Narrator
- Larry Grey as the voice of the Footman
Made on the Cusp between the classic "golden age" Disney animations of the 1930s and 1940s and the less critically acclaimed productions of the 1950s, Cinderella is a representative of both eras.
Cinderella was the first full-bodied feature produced by the studio since Bambi in 1942; World War II and low box office returns had forced Walt Disney to produce a series of inexpensive package films such as Make Mine Music and Fun and Fancy Free for the 1940s. Live-action reference was used extensively to keep animation costs down. According to Laryn Dowel, one of the directing animators of the film, roughly 90% of the film was done in live-action model before animation, using basic sets as references for actors and animators alike.
Both Helene Stanley (Cinderella's live-action model) and Ilene Woods (Cinderella's voice actor, selected from 400 other candidates) heavily influenced Cinderella's styling and mannerisms. Stanley was the live-action model for Anastasia Tremaine as well. She would be so again for Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and Anita Radcliffe in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Animators modeled Prince Charming on actor Jeffery Stone, who also provided some additional voices for the film. Mike Douglas was the Prince's singing voice while William Phepps acted the part.
In earlier drafts of the screenplay, the Prince originally played a larger role and had more character development than what he ultimately received in the final version of the film. In one abandoned opening, the Prince was shown hunting a deer, but at the end of the sequence, it was to be revealed that the Prince and the deer were actually friends and playing games. In an alternate ending, after the Duke discovered Cinderella's identity, she was shown being brought to the castle to be reintroduced to the Prince, who is surprised to learn that Cinderella was actually a modest servant girl instead of the princess he thought she was, but the Prince's feelings for her were too strong to be bothered by this, and he embraced her; the Fairy Godmother was to reappear and restore Cinderella's ball gown for the closing shot. Walt Disney himself reportedly cut the alternate ending because he felt it was overlong and did not give the audience its "pay off", but the scene would later be incorporated in the video game, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
Other deleted material included an abandoned song tentatively titled the "Cinderella Work Song", which was part of a fantasy sequence that was set to take place after Lady Tremaine told Cinderella that she could only attend the ball if she finished her chores and found a suitable dress. In this abandoned sequence, Cinderella imagined herself multiplying into an army of maids in order to deal with her massive workload, all the while pondering what the ball itself would be like; the sequence was cut, but the title was applied to the song the mice sing when they work on Cinderella's dress. Additionally, there was a scene that took place after the ball in which Cinderella was seen returning to her home and eavesdropped on her stepfamily, who were ranting about the mystery girl at the ball, and Cinderella was shown to be amused by this because they were talking about her without realizing it. Walt Disney reportedly cut the scene because he thought it made Cinderella look "spiteful" and felt the audience would lose sympathy.
Interestingly, almost 30 years before he made "Cinderella" into a feature-length animated film, Walt Disney already made a short film of it as the last of the Laugh-O-Gram series, as a Roaring 20s version. This short is included as an extra on the Cinderella Platinum Edition DVD.
During production, Walt Disney pioneered the use of double tracked vocals for the song "Sing Sweet Nightingale", before it had been used by artists in studio recordings such as The Beatles. When Ilene Woods had completed the days recording of "Sing Sweet Nightingale", Walt listened and asked her if she could sing harmony with herself. She was apprehensive about the idea as it was unheard of; though she ended up singing the double recording, including second and third part harmonies. Ilene Woods reveals the innovation in an interview.
For the first time, Walt turned to Tin Pan Alley songwriters to write the songs. The music of Tin Pan Alley would later become a recurring theme in Disney animation. Cinderella was the first Disney film to have its songs published and copyrighted by the newly created Walt Disney Music Company. Before movie soundtracks became marketable, movie songs had little residual value to the film studio that owned them and were often sold off to established music companies for sheet music publication.
"Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" became a hit single four times, with notable versions by Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters. Woods beat exactly 309 girls for the part of Cinderella after some demo recordings of her singing a few of the film's songs were presented to Walt Disney. However, she had no idea she was auditioning for the part until Disney contacted her; she initially made the recordings for a few friends who sent them to Disney without her knowledge. Reportedly, Disney thought Woods had the right "fairy tale" tone to her voice.
- Main article: Cinderella (soundtrack)
Disney had not had as huge a hit since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (though Dumbo was also a huge success), so the production of this film was regarded as a major gamble on his part. At a cost of nearly $3 million, Disney insiders claimed that if Cinderella failed at the box office, then the Disney studio would have closed (given that the studio was already heavily in debt). The film was a huge box-office success and allowed Disney to carry on producing films throughout the 1950s. It was the 5th most popular movie at the British box office in 1951.
Cinderella currently has a score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The overview of the film is, "The rich colors, sweet songs, adorable mice, and endearing (if suffering) heroine make Cinderella a nostalgically lovely charmer." The profits from the film's release, with the additional profits from record sales, music publishing, publications, and other merchandise, gave Disney the cash flow to finance a slate of productions (animated and live-action), establish his own distribution company, enter television production and begin building Disneyland during the decade.
The film received three Academy Award nominations for Best Sound (C.O. Slyfield) lost to All About Eve, Best Original Score (Oliver Wallace and Paul Smith) lost to Annie Get Your Gun and Best Original Song for "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman) lost to Captain Carey, U.S.A.. At the 1st Berlin International Film Festival it won the Golden Bear (Music Film) award and the Big Bronze Plate award.
In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "AFI's 10 Top 10"— the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Cinderella was acknowledged as the 9th greatest film in the animation genre.
The film was originally released in theaters on February 15, 1950, followed by theatrical re-releases in 1957, 1965, 1973, 1981, 1987, and 1995. Cinderella also played a limited engagement in select Cinemark Theaters from February 16-18, 2013.
Home Video Releases
- Main article: Cinderella (video)
- The film's copyright was renewed on December 3, 1976.
- In the original French version of the story, the slippers are made of fur instead of glass. This was because of a translation error (see Glass Slipper (Trivia) for more details).
- Walt Disney said Cinderella was his favorite fairy tale because he saw himself in her shoes (pun intended) since he/she worked so hard and got rewarded for his/her work.
- The sequence in which Cinderella's rags turn into a magnificent ball gown, animated by Marc Davis, was Walt Disney's favorite piece of animation ever to come out of the studio. Enchanted has a scene that resembles this.
- In the CBS television special AFI's 10 Top 10, the movie was named the 9th Best Animated Feature of all time.
- Not only is the name of the Prince never revealed, but he is nowhere in the film mentioned as "Prince Charming".
- Ilene Woods beat exactly 309 girls for the part of Cinderella, after some demo recordings of her singing a few of the film's songs were presented to Walt Disney. However, she had no idea she was auditioning for the part until Disney contacted her; she initially made the recordings for a few friends who sent them to Disney without telling her.
- Woods also revealed in an interview that Walt Disney was probably the first person to use double tracked vocals, where the singer records herself singing both the melody and the harmonies. The vocals were then mixed together, creating a seamless effect.
- In 2003, she was awarded a Disney Legends award for her voicework on the film Cinderella.
- When the film was first released on the Platinum Edition DVD and VHS, Cinderella's ball dress was recolored blue instead of silver to match the merchandise.
- The Prince is usually known as Prince Charming, though some source material shows that his name is Henri, or Henry. However, he was never referred to by name anywhere in the film.
- The unnamed Prince, or Prince Charming, was given a name in the ABC fairy tale fantasy drama Once Upon a Time, as Prince Thomas, since the unnamed prince from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had been dubbed Prince Charming in the program.
- When Walt had the resources to return to full-length animation in the late 1940s after the war, he was indecisive over whether they should produce Cinderella or Alice in Wonderland first and finally decided to have two animation crews working on each film compete with each other to see not only which would finish first but also which did the best job.
- Dinah Shore and Deanna Durbin were considered for the role of Cinderella, but after Walt heard demo recordings of the film's score by big band singer Ilene Woods, the relatively unknown Woods (who only had one film credit before this film) was cast in the title role.
- If you look closely at the carriage that Cinderella and the Prince take after, the wedding has an emblem of a sword and two hidden Mickey Mouse heads around it.
- A song called "Dancing on a Cloud" was cut from the film.
- In the original Italian version, the fairy godmother turns into a cat.
- For the German version, the original opening narration about Cinderella's past was read by Erika Goerner. On subsequent releases of the film beginning in 1992, this was replaced with a new narration read by Joachim Pukass, somehow explaining how this is a Disney film coming from the US and that "Aschenputtel" is called "Cinderella" over there. The rest of the film is left intact from its original 1950 dub, though the original German narration has never been made available since.
- Cinderella actually loses a shoe 3 times in the film: first, when she delivers the breakfast trays (causing Lucifer to look under the wrong cup), second, when she is running away from the ball, and third, walking down the steps with her new husband.
- The first film to be worked on by all nine of the legendary "Nine Old Men" of the Walt Disney animation department.
- The royal proclamation on the castle gate wall reads: "All loyal subjects of his Imperial Majesty are hereby notified by royal proclamation that in regard to a certain glass slipper, it is upon this day decreed that a quest is instituted throughout the length and breadth of our domain. The sole and express purpose of said quest is as follows to wit: that every single maiden in our beloved Kingdom shall try upon her foot this aforementioned slipper of glass, and should one be found whose foot shall properly fit said slipper, such maiden will be acclaimed the subject of this search and the one and only true love of his Royal Highness, our noble Prince. And said Royal Highness will humbly request the hand of the said maiden in marriage to rule with him over all the land as Royal Princess and future Queen."
- According to Marc Davis, one of the directing animators of Cinderella (1950), at least 90% of the movie was done in live-action model before animation. Dancer Ward Ellis was the live-action model for Prince Charming. Cinderella's carriage is actually a live-action model painted white with black lines; this was the first time this technique had actually been used.
- Gus' full name is Octavius, presumably after the private name of the Roman Emperor Augustus. Gus can be short for either Gustavus or Augustus.
- All the animal characters in Cinderella were written to speak. Major had a song entitled "Horse-Sense" which she sang with Bruno after being scolded for growling at Lucifer. However in the final film, its only the mice who are the only animals that have been given the ability to speak, while other animals such as Bruno, Major, Lucifer and the birds do not speak except for their respective animal sounds.
- The story takes place roughly in June. In the movie, the sun rises slightly before 6:00 AM (in France), as it would within a few weeks of the summer solstice. Also by this time, a pumpkin would have grown to 20-40 pounds.
- Walt Disney turned for the first time to "Tin Pan Alley" songwriters, to write the songs. This would later become a recurring theme in Disney animation.
- Ilene Woods suffered from Alzheimer's disease in the later years of her life. During this time, she did not even remember that she had played Cinderella, but nurses claimed that she was very much comforted by the song "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes".
- Although it is often assumed that Lucifer falls to his death from the tower, he is regularly shown as being alive some time later, in various (semi-)official novelizations, story-book spin-offs, and other promotional materials made to provide epilogue to the characters after the movie ended, as well as the direct-to-video sequels. The logic of how he survived is never addressed directly, so fans have come up with their own theories. The most popular fan theories are the following:
- (1) As per one popular bit of folklore (partly based on scientific facts), falling cats have a proportionally improbable ability to fall from extreme heights and land standing without injury, due to specialized muscular reflexes.
- (2) As per another popular bit of folklore (which has no factual justification whatsoever, but fits suitably into a fairy-tale context), cats have "eight spare lives" so it was Lucifer's feline privilege to be resurrected after his violent death.
- (3) As per a more recent bit of popular folklore (which largely post-dates this movie but can be applied retroactively), Lucifer was protected from injury by his fat flesh which provided an insulating cushion against any bone breakage when he hit the ground. This is an archetypal staple of 20th- and 21st-century cartoon portrayals of obese felines, the most famous being Jim Davis' "Garfield".
- "Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30-minute radio adaptation of the movie on June 30, 1950, with Verna Felton reprising her film role.
- Lucifer was modeled after animator Ward Kimball's cat. Animators were having trouble coming up with a good design for that cat, but once Walt Disney saw Kimball's furry six-toed calico, he declared, "For gosh sakes, Kimball! There's your Lucifer right there!"
- While it could be just a coincidence, it may not be, three of the lady mice in the dress making scene (around when Jaq says "Poor Cinderelly") are in green, pink and blue dresses - not quite the exact same colors as the Three Good Fairies in Sleeping Beauty (1959), which would be released 9 years later. Also, Verna Felton voices Fairy Godmothers for both films. In Sleeping Beauty, she is Flora, the red member of the team.
- When auditioning for the role of Prince Charming, Mike Douglas was asked where he was from. When he replied, in his Illinois accent, that he was from Chicago he was told that he was not going to do the speaking role and so William Phipps was cast as Prince Charming while Douglas sang for the role.
- The first fully-developed, feature-length film the studio released after wartime cutbacks forced them to release several "package films" (Melody Time (1948), Fun and Fancy Free (1947), et al.). The success of the animation department depended greatly on its success.
- The Goofy holler is heard from The Grand Duke when he and the King fall from the chandelier after the Duke informs the former of Cinderella's departure from the ball. This marks the first time the Goofy holler is heard in a full-length feature film in the Disney Animated Canon (although the holler was previously heard in one of the segments of Make Mine Music and Fun and Fancy Free respectively back in the 1940s decade), which is occasionally used in future films such as The Rescuers, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc. for intended comedic effect usually when Disney characters fall off high places or get thrown off to another place even though Goofy doesn't appear.
- The debate of the setting of Cinderella has always been a problem but most people can agree it is French however, there is a small amount of people who think it's Spanish because the female names end in "A" but that does not really cut it so deeper research shows that the thing on Anastasia's head is a peineta or headdress used in Spain along with formal attire also the French furnishings and the Spanish furnishings within the same time period are very similar in style.
- This is the seventh Disney animated classic to have the 2006 Walt Disney Pictures logo with just Disney at the end of the movie, on current releases.
- The VHS release of the movie was released in 1988 which is decades after the movie was released.
- Walt Disney's favorite scene from the movie is where Cinderella's dress is changed by the magic of Fairy Godmother.
- In earlier drafts of the screenplay, the Prince originally played a larger role and had more character development than what he ultimately received in the final version of the film. In one abandoned opening, the Prince was shown hunting a deer, but at the end of the sequence, it was to be revealed that the Prince and the deer were actually friends playing a game. In an abandoned alternate ending, after the Duke discovered Cinderella's identity, she was shown being brought to the castle to be reintroduced to the Prince, who is surprised to learn that Cinderella was actually a modest servant girl instead of the princess he thought she was, but the Prince's feelings for her were too strong to be bothered by this, and he embraced her; the Fairy Godmother was to reappear and restore Cinderella's ball gown for the closing shot. Walt Disney himself reportedly cut the alternate ending because he felt it was overlong and did not give the audience its "pay off", but the scene would later be incorporated in the video game Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
- JUST ANNOUNCED: CINDERELLA ADDED TO NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY
- These people were credited only in post-2005 versions
- Catalog of Copyright Entries
- Cinderella (1950 film) on Wikipedia
- Cinderella (1950 film) at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella