This last month on the Walt Disney Maniacs group page, we covered the Disney animated classic, Cinderella. We also threw in a few facts about this 2015 live action Cinderella as well. This is a re-cap of what we covered for July.
1. A dream sequence reminiscent of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice - Cinderella imagines multiple Cindy's attacking the chore list—was storyboarded but ultimately didn't make it. This artwork was done by the ever loved Disney favorite Mary Blair.
2. Ilene Woods landed the voice role of Cinderella without even knowing she'd auditioned. Her friends, songwriters Mack David and Jerry Livingston (part of the trio, along with Al Hoffman, who composed all the songs from "Cinderella"), had her sing on the demo recordings for the movie's tunes "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo," "So This Is Love," and "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes." They sent the demos to Walt Disney, who liked her voice so much that he cast Woods in the lead role without giving her a formal audition.
3. Cinderella herself, Ilene Woods, revealed in this 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.
4. Mike Douglas, as in The Mike Douglas Show, was Prince Charming’s singing voice. The speaking voice, however, was provided by actor William Phipps.
5. If some of the Disney women from the 50's and 60's look similarly graceful and lanky, there’s a reason for it: Helene Stanley, the live-action model for Cinderella, Here she is doing her “Once Upon a Dream” thing for Sleeping Beauty and Anita in "101 Dalmatians." . As with many of the Disney animated features, actors were hired as visual models to act out the sequences as studies for the animators. Jeffrey Stone was the visual model for Prince Charming.
6. Before "Cinderella's" release, the Disney studio was $4 million in debt. Over the previous decade, such animated features as "Fantasia," "Pinocchio," and "Bambi" had been costly flops. World War II had cut the studio off from its lucrative overseas audience. The animated features it had released in the interim had been compilations of shorts, like "Fun and Fancy Free" and "Melody Time."
7. The return to ambitious narrative features, then, marked both a creative and financial gamble for the studio, the first time in eight years it had made such an attempt. Had the film failed, it would have bankrupted the Disney company.
8. There are many versions of the Cinderella tale in European folklore, but Disney chose the one made familiar by French author Charles Perrault in 1697. He's the author who introduced to the tale the key elements of the fairy godmother, the pumpkin-turned-coach, and the glass slippers. In his version, along with the small creatures turned into Cinderella's driver and horses, there's a group of lizards transformed into footmen. Alas, the Disney cartoon leaves the reptiles out -- but the new, live-action version does not!
9. Lucifer the cat was voiced by June Foray, the cartoon voice over artist later best known for playing Granny in the Tweety and Sylvester cartoons, and Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha Fatale in the Bullwinkle cartoons.
Side note: June Foray is still living, and is 97!
10. Verna Felton, who voiced the Fairy Godmother, was a frequent Disney player, having worked on "Dumbo" as both Mrs. Jumbo and the elephant matriarch. She went on to voice the Queen of Hearts in "Alice in Wonderland," Aunt Sarah in "Lady and the Tramp," the fairy Flora and the queen in "Sleeping Beauty," and another elephant, Winifred, in "The Jungle Book."
11. Veteran Disney sound effects artist Jimmy MacDonald, who voiced Mickey Mouse for 30 years (the first man other than Walt himself to voice the iconic character), worked on "Cinderella" as the voices of mice Jaq and Gus and as Bruno the dog.
12. He'd go on to make animal noises in "Alice in Wonderland" (the Dormouse), "Peter Pan" (the tick-tock of the clock-eating crocodile) "Lady and the Tramp" (the chorus of howling dogs), the Chip and Dale shorts (he was Chip), various Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh cartoons (as buzzing bees), "The Jungle Book" (various animals), and "The Rescuers" (Evinrude the dragonfly).
13. Several sequences failed to make it into the final film. One early sequence had the prince hunting a deer (shades of "Bambi"!), only to reveal that the hunter and prey were pals playing a game.
14. In another unused sequence, Cinderella imagines herself as an army of identical young women, dispatched to finish her chores so that she can attend the ball. She was to sing a tune, called "Cinderella Work Song." The song was scrapped but the title modified into "The Work Song" for the tune the mice warble when they're creating her gown.
15. A third eliminated sequence had Cinderella eavesdropping on her stepmother and stepsisters gossiping about the mystery woman at the ball, with Cinderella showing amusement at their unawareness that she herself is the woman they're talking about. Walt Disney had this sequence cut because he thought it made the heroine look spiteful and risk audience sympathy.
16. A cut version of the ending had the Grand Duke learning Cinderella's identity and bringing her to the castle, where the prince expresses surprise but not disappointment that Cinderella is a servant and not a princess. Then the Fairy Godmother was to appear and restore Cinderella to her appearance the night of the ball. Walt nixed this sequence because he found it too long and argued that it denied viewers the emotional payoff of having the prince discover Cinderella's identity himself.
17. With the hiring of David, Livingston, and Hoffman, "Cinderella" marked the first time Disney had turned to established professional songwriters from outside the studio.
18. Disney also kept the publishing rights on their compositions, with "Cinderella" also marking the launch of the Walt Disney Music Company, which introduced a new revenue stream from sheet music publishing and, later, soundtrack albums.
19. David, Livingston, and Hoffman would go on to write the songs for Disney's "Alice in Wonderland."
20. The soundtrack was also a trailblazer in its use of double-tracked vocals. Walt came up with the innovative idea of having Woods sing harmony with herself on a second and third vocal track on the song "Sing, Sweet Nightingale." Woods recalled that, upon hearing the finished recording, Disney remarked, "How about that? All of these years I've been paying three salaries for the Andrews Sisters, when I could have only paid one for you!"
21. The film cost $3 million to make. Over the years, it has earned back more than $85 million, not adjusting for inflation.
22. As the biggest hit Disney had enjoyed in 13 years, since "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Cinderella" generated enough cash flow not only to save the studio, but to allow it to create its own distribution company.
23. Cinderella had been distributed, like past Disney features, by RKO, finance several live-action and animated films, enter the world of television production, and build the Disneyland theme park.
24. "Cinderella" was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Sound, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song ("Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo").
25. The studio re-released "Cinderella" in theaters six times: in 1957, 1965, 1973, 1981, 1987, and 2013.
The following items pertain to the "Live Action" Cinderella film:
26. If you listen closely, the second trailer features the classic song from the Disney musical, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” which leads many to believe that it won’t be the only homage to its Disney predecessor.
27. In the ballroom dance, many of the dresses designs are based on the dresses of various Disney princesses. Those of Belle from (Beauty and the Beast (1991), Tiana (The Princess and the Frog (2009), Aurora (Sleeping Beauty (1959), Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Mulan (Mulan (1998), and Ariel (The Little Mermaid (1989) can be spotted.
28. Cinderella had its world premiere on February 13, 2015, at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. It was released on March 13, 2015. Upon its release, the film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $539 million worldwide.
29. The iconic blue dress in this film had a total of eight versions made, all used depending on what Lily James had to do. For example, one dress was four inches off the ground for her running scene from the ball to the carriage, one dragged on the ground slightly for her entrance at the ball.
30. This film marks Kenneth Branagh's first collaboration with Walt Disney Pictures. Branagh also directed Thor (2011), which was distributed by Paramount Pictures but subsequently re-branded as a Disney film.
31. The famous Rococo painting "The Swing", which contains a woman losing her shoe as she swings in a garden (and is pictured in Frozen (2011) as Anna dances around the castle) is recreated in the scene where Cinderella is in the secret garden with Prince Kit.