Cinderella is a 1950 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney and originally released by RKO Radio Pictures. Based on the fairytale Cendrillon by Charles Perrault, it is the twelfth Disney animated feature film. Directing credits go to Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske and Wilfred Jackson. Songs were written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston and Al Hoffman. Songs in the film include "Cinderella", "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "Sing Sweet Nightingale", "The Work Song", "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" and "So This is Love". It features the voices of Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Rhoda Williams, James MacDonald, Luis van Rooten, Don Barclay, Mike Douglas and Lucille Bliss.
At the time, Walt Disney Productions had suffered from losing connections to the European film markets due to the outbreak of World War II, enduring some box office bombs like Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi, all of which would later become more successful with several re-releases in theaters and on home video. At the time, however, the studio was over $4 million in debt and was on the verge of bankruptcy. Walt Disney and his animators turned back to feature film production in 1948 after producing a string of package films with the idea of adapting Charles Perrault's Cendrillon into a motion picture. It is the first Disney film in which all of Disney's Nine Old Men worked together as directing animators. After two years in production, Cinderella was finally released on February 15, 1950. It became the greatest critical and commercial hit for the studio since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and helped reverse the studio's fortunes. It is considered one of the best American animated films ever made, as selected by the American Film Institute. It received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Music, Original Song for "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo". Decades later, it was followed by two direct-to-video sequels, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, and a 2015 live-action remake directed by Kenneth Branagh.
Cinderella is the much-loved daughter of a widowed aristocrat. He decides to re-marry, 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 was 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 chateau. For with each dawn, she found 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 (whom she names Octavius or Gus for short) who was caught in a mouse trap. She gives Gus 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. Lady Tremaine punishes Cinderella with extra chores.
At the royal palace, the King and the Grand Duke organise 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 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 Anasatasia's old sash after they throw them on the floor, escaping with them before Lucifer catches them. The animals finish Cinderela'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 rip up the gown into rags before snootily leaving for the ball with Lady Tremaine. Heartbroken, Cinderella runs outside to the garden.
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 thinks there's something familiar about her, but are 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. Back at the castle, the Duke tells the King of the disaster. He also reveals, however, 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. Realising that Cinderella was the girl who danced with the Prince, Lady Tremaine follows Cinderella to her room and locks her stepdaughter in the attic.
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 indisputable 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 lived happily ever after.
- Ilene Woods as Cinderella
- Eleanor Audley as Lady Tremaine
- Verna Felton as Fairy Godmother
- Lucille Bliss as Anastasia
- Rhoda Williams as Drizella
- Jimmy MacDonald as Jaq and Gus, Bruno
- June Foray as Lucifer
- William Phipps as Prince Charming
- Mike Douglas provided Prince Charming's singing voice
- Luis van Rooten as The King and The Grand Duke
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 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 reference for actors and animators alike.
Helene Stanley (Cinderella's live action model), Karen Overby and Ilene Woods (Cinderella's voice actress, 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 Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and Anita Radcliffe in One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Animators modelled Prince Charming on actor Jeffrey Stone, who also provided some additional voices for the film. Mike Douglas was the Prince's singing voice while William Phipps recorded the prince's dialogue (or speaking voice).
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 re-introduced 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 that was tentatively titled the "Cinderella Work Song", which was part of a fantasy sequence that was set to take place after Lady Tremaine tells Cinderella that she can go to the ball if she finishes all of her chores and has a nice dress to wear. In this abandoned sequence, Cinderella imagines herself being closed into an army to divide up the work while pondering what the ball itself will 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 realising it. Walt Disney reportedly cut the scene because he thought it made Cinderella look "spiteful" and felt the audience would lose sympathy for her.
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.
The song "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" became a hit single on four occasions, including a cover version recorded 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 "fairytale" tone to her voice.
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 20's version. This short is included as an extra on the Cinderella Platinum Edition DVD.
During production, Walt Disney pioneered the use of overdubbed 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; thought she ended up singing the double recording, including second and third part harmonies. Ilene Woods reveals the innovation in an interview.
The clothes also received considerable attention. A scholar has demonstrated that Salvador Dali, with whom Disney worked on the short Destino a few months before starting Cinderella, inspired the dress that Cinderella's stepsisters tear apart and that the magic new gown worn by Cinderella at the ball references French haute couture and, more precisely, the style of Christian Dior, who travelled through the U.S. in 1947.
See Also: Cinderella (Soundtrack)
The soundtrack for Cinderella was re-released by Walt Disney Records on CD on February 4, 1997, and included a bonus demo. On October 4, 2005, Disney released a special edition of the soundtrack album of Cinderella, for the Platinum Edition DVD release, which includes several demo songs cut from the final film, a new song, and a cover version of "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes". The soundtrack was released again on October 2, 2012, and consisted of several lost chords and new recordings of them. A Walmart exclusive limited edition "Music Box Set" consisting of the soundtrack without the lost chords or bonus demos, the Song and Story: Cinderella CD and a bonus DVD of Tangled Ever After was released on the same day.
All tracks were written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston and Al Hoffman.
The film was originally released in theaters on February 15, 1950, in Boston, Massachusetts, followed by theatrical re-releases in 1957, 1965, 1973, 1981 and 1987. Cinderella also played a limited engagement in select Cinemark Theatres from February 16-18, 2013.
See Also: Cinderella (Video)
It was released on VHS video and laserdisc in 1988 as part of the Walt Disney Classics collection. The release had a promotion with a free lithograph reproduction of those who pre-ordered the video before its release date. In 1995, the film received a Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection video issue, it went back to moratorium in 1996 but later got a DVD release in 1997. Disney then restored and remastered the movie for its October 4, 2005, release as the sixth installment of the Walt Disney Platinum Editions series. According to Studio Briefing, Disney sold 3.2 million copies in its first week and earned over $64 million in sales. The Platinum Edition DVD of the original movie along with its sequels went on moratorium on January 31, 2008. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, a "Royal Edition" of Cinderella was released on DVD on April 4, 2011, to celebrate the UK Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. This release had a unique limited edition number on ebery slipcase and an exclusive art card. Disney released a Diamond Edition on October 2, 2012, in a 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo, a 2-disc, Blu-ray/DVD combo and in a 6-disc "Jewelry Box Set" that includes the first film alongside its two sequels. A 1-disc DVD edition was released on November 20, 2012. The Diamond Edition release went back into the Disney Vault on January 31, 2017.
Cinderella currently has a score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The overview of the film is, "The rich colours, 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.
Disney had not had a major hit since Dumbo. 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 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.
The film received three Academy Award nominations for Best Sound (C. O. Slyfield) lost to All About Eve, Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture (Oliver Wallace and Paul J. Smith) lost to Annie Get Your Gun and Best Music, 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 "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.
American Film Institute Recognition
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains (Lady Tremaine) - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs
- "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" - Nominated
- "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" - Nominated
- AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - Nominated
- AFI's 10 Top 10 - #9 Animated Film
Sequels and Other Media
- A direct-to-video sequel Cinderella II: Dreams Come True was released on February 26, 2002.
- A second direct-to-video sequel Cinderella III: A Twist in Time was released on February 6, 2007.
- Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother have appeared as guests in Disney's House of Mouse.
- Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother appear in the video game Kingdom Hearts and a world based on the film, Castle of Dreams, appears in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. All the main characters except Gus, Bruno and the King appear.
- A scaled-down stage musical version of the film known as Disney's Cinderella KIDS is frequently performed by schools and children's theaters.
- A live-action adaptation of the film produced by Walt Disney Pictures, directed by Kenneth Branagh was released in 2015; starring Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter.