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Song of the South

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Title: Song of the South  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear, Wilfred Jackson, Mary Blair
Collection: 1940S American Animated Films, 1940S Musical Films, 1946 Animated Films, 1946 Films, American Animated Films, American Films, American Folklore Films and Television Series, American Musical Films, Animated Musical Films, Disney Animated Films, English-Language Films, Films Directed by Wilfred Jackson, Films Featuring Anthropomorphic Characters, Films Produced by Walt Disney, Films Set in Georgia (U.S. State), Films Set in the 1860S, Films Set in the 1870S, Films Shot in Arizona, Films Shot in California, Films That Won the Best Original Song Academy Award, Films with Live Action and Animation, Rko Pictures Films, Self-Censorship, Walt Disney Pictures Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Song of the South

Song of the South
1946 theatrical release poster
Directed by Harve Foster
Wilfred Jackson
Produced by Walt Disney
Screenplay by Live Action:
Dalton S. Reymond
Morton Grant
Maurice Rapf
Bill Peet
Ralph Wright
George Stallings
Joel Chandler Harris
Starring James Baskett
Bobby Driscoll
Luana Patten
Glenn Leedy
Ruth Warrick
Lucile Watson
Hattie McDaniel
Johnny Lee
Nick Stewart
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Paul J. Smith
Cinematography Gregg Toland
Edited by William M. Morgan
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release dates
  • November 12, 1946 (1946-11-12) ( Premiere-Atlanta, GA)[1]
  • November 20, 1946 (1946-11-20) (U.S. )[1]
Running time 94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$2.125 million[2]
Box office US$65,000,000[3]

Song of the South is a 1946 American live-action/animated musical film produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures, based on the Uncle Remus stories collected by Joel Chandler Harris. It was Disney's first feature film using live actors, who provide a sentimental frame story for several animated segments. The film depicts the character Uncle Remus, a former slave, cheerfully relating to several children, including the film's protagonist, the folk tales of the adventures of anthropomorphic Br'er Rabbit and his friends. The film's song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Song, is frequently used as part of Disney's montage themes, and has become widely used in popular culture. The film inspired the Disney theme park attraction Splash Mountain.

The film's depiction of black former slaves, and of race relations in

External links

  • Jason Sperb, Disney's Most Notorious Film: Race, Convergence, and the Hidden Histories of Song of the South. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2012.

Further reading

  1. ^ a b "Song of the South: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  2. ^ Solomon, Charles (1989), p. 186. Enchanted Drawings: The History of Animation. ISBN 0-394-54684-9. Alfred A. Knopf. Retrieved February 16, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Gabler, Neal (2006-10-31). Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. Knopf. pp. 432–9, 456, 463, 486, 511, 599.  
  4. ^
  5. ^ )"Song of the South"Disney (.  
  6. ^ Moses, Robert (1999). AMC Classic Movie Companion. New York: Hyperion. p. 440.  
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Cohen, Karl F. (1997). Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 64.  
  8. ^ Kaufman, Will (2006). The Civil War in American Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.  
  9. ^ Langman, Larry; Ebner, David (2001). Hollywood’s Image of the South: A Century of Southern Films. Westport Connecticut, London: Greenwood Press. p. 169.  
  10. ^ Snead, James A.; MacCabe, Colin; West, Cornel (1994). White Screens, Black Images: Hollywood from the Dark Side. New York: Routledge. pp. 88, 93.  
  11. ^ Watts, Jill (2005). Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood (First ed.). New York: Amistad/Harper Collins.  
  12. ^ Field, Douglas (2005). American Cold War Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.  
  13. ^ Song of the South entry for TV Guide,
  14. ^ The perfect double bill: “Princess and the Frog” and “Song of the South” By Erik Nelson, March 16,
  15. ^ Williams, Pat; Denney, Jim (2004). How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life. Deerfield Beach, Florida: Health Communications, Inc. p. 156.  
  16. ^ a b Walt Disney Presents "Song of the South" Promotional Program, Page 7. Published 1946 by Walt Disney Productions/RKO Radio Pictures.
  17. ^ Walt Disney's Song of the South, 1946 Publicity Campaign Book, Distributed by RKO Pictures. Copyright Walt Disney Pictures, 1946. "The chain-reaction, endless song, of which American folk music is so plentiful [...] The number is 'Uncle Remus Said,' and it consists of a single, brief melody repeated as often as new lyrics come along."
  18. ^ Emerson, Ken (1997). Doo-dah!: Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Popular Culture. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 60.  
  19. ^ "Blackface!". Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  20. ^ "The Movie: Background". Song of the Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  21. ^ a b "Song of the South"Trivia for .  
  22. ^ "James Baskett as Uncle Remus". Song of the Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  23. ^ Bobby Driscoll biography at Song of the
  24. ^ "Luana Patten as Ginny Favers". Song of the Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  25. ^ "Glenn Leedy as Toby". Song of the Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  26. ^ "Ruth Warrick as Sally". Song of the Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  27. ^ "Eric Rolf as John". Song of the Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  28. ^ In a 15 October 1946 article in the Atlanta Constitution, columnist Harold Martin noted that to bring Baskett to Atlanta, where he would not have been allowed to participate in any of the festivities, "would cause him many embarrassments, for his feelings are the same as any man's." The modern claim that no Atlanta hotel would give Baskett accommodation is false: there were several black-owned hotels in the Sweet Auburn area of downtown Atlanta at the time, including the Savoy and the McKay. Atlanta's Black-Owned Hotels: A History.
  29. ^ Don Markstein. "Br'er Rabbit". Toonopedia. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ Thomas, Bob (1994). Walt Disney: An American Original. New York.:  
  32. ^ "Top 100 Animated Features of All Time".  
  33. ^ Jason Sperb, Disney’s Most Notorious Film, University of Texas Press (2012), ISBN 0292739745, ISBN 978-0292739741; reviewed in John Lingan, Bristling Dixie, Slate Jan. 4, 2013 (accessed Aug. 21, 2013)
  34. ^ November 15, 2005.Wednesdays with Wade: Did the NAACP kill "Song of the South"?Jim Hill Media.
  35. ^ By Bosley Crowther, November 28, 1946.The Screen; 'Song of the South,' Disney Film Combining Cartoons and Life, Opens at Palace—Abbott and Costello at Loew's Criterion The New York Times.
  36. ^ The New Pictures, Nov. 18, 1946 magazine. Time
  37. ^ a b Watts, Steven (2001). The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life. University of Missouri Press. pp. 276–277.  
  38. ^ Gevinson, Alan (1997). Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911-1960. California: University of California Press. p. 956.  
  39. ^ Song of the South opened in Los Angeles in 1947, which became its qualification year for the awards.
  40. ^ Parsons, Luella (1960-02-28). "That Little Girl in 'Song of the South' a Big Girl Now". Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  41. ^ Mike Brantley (January 6, 2002). "'Song of the South'". Alabama Mobile Register. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  42. ^ Audio of Robert Iger's statement can be heard here
  43. ^ "2007 Transcript from shareholder's meeting". Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  44. ^ "Disney Backpedaling on Releasing Song of the South?". Retrieved 2007-05-28. 
  45. ^ "Actually, things are looking pretty good right now for "Song of the South" to finally be released on DVD in late 2008 / early 2009". Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  46. ^ "Disney CEO Calls Movie Antiquated and Fairly Offensive". Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  47. ^ "Disney Producer Encouraging About 'Song of the South' Release". The Post-Movie Podcast. November 20, 2010. Retrieved November 16, 2011. 
  48. ^ "Japanese Court Rules Pre-1953 Movies in Public Domain",, December 7, 2006.
  49. ^
  50. ^ "Song of the South"AKAs for . Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  51. ^ "Walt Disney's: helaftens spillefilmer 1941–1981". Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  52. ^ Memorabilia"Song of the South". Song of the Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  53. ^ "Brer Rabbit" at Inducks


See also

Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Br'er Bear also appeared in the 2011 video game Kinect Disneyland Adventures for the Xbox 360. The game is a virtual recreation of Disneyland and it features a mini game based on the Splash Mountain attraction. Brer Rabbit helps guide the player character through that game, while Brer Fox and Brer Bear serve as antagonists. The three Brers also appear as meet-and-greet characters in the game, outside Splash Mountain in Critter Country. In the game, Jess Harnell reprises his role from the attraction as Brer Rabbit and also takes on the role of Brer Fox, while Br'er Bear is voiced by James Avery, who previously voiced Br'er Bear and Br'er Frog in the Walt Disney World version of Splash Mountain. This is the Brers' first major appearance in Disney media since House of Mouse in 2001 and their first appearance as computer-generated characters.

Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Br'er Bear appeared as guests in Disney's House of Mouse. They also appeared in Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse. Br'er Bear and Tar Baby also appear in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Br'er Bear can be seen near the end while the Toons are celebrating finding the will. Tar Baby can briefly be seen during the scene driving into Toon Town.

As early as October, 1945, a newspaper strip named Walt Disney Presents "Uncle Remus" and His Tales of Brer Rabbit appeared in the United States, and this production continued until 1972. There have also been episodes for the series produced for the Disney comic books worldwide, in USA, Denmark and the Netherlands, from the 1940s up to the present day, 2012.[53] Brer Bear and Brer Fox also appeared frequently in Disney's Big Bad Wolf stories, although here, Brer Bear was usually cast as an honest farmer and family man, instead of the bad guy in his original appearances.

References in other Disney media

Despite the film's lack of an official home video release directly to consumers in the United States, audio from the film—both the musical soundtrack and dialogue—were made widely available to the public from the time of the film's debut up through the late 1970s. In particular, many Book-and-Record sets were released, alternately featuring the animated portions of the film or summaries of the film as a whole.[52]

While most foreign releases of the film are literal translations of the English title (Canción del Sur in Spanish, Mélodie du Sud in French, Melodie Van Het Zuiden in Dutch, Sången om södern in Swedish, A Canção do Sul in Portuguese, and Etelän laulu in Finnish), the German title Onkel Remus' Wunderland translates to "Uncle Remus' Wonderland", the Italian title I Racconti Dello Zio Tom translates to "The Stories of Uncle Tom",[50] and the Norwegian title Onkel Remus forteller translates to "Storyteller Uncle Remus."[51]

A NTSC laserdisc was released out of Hong Kong for the Chinese rental market. It appears to have been created from a PAL videotape, and has a 4% faster running time because of its PAL source, and thus also suffers from "frame ghosting". There are reports that this laserdisc is a bootleg, but it is a legitimate Disney (albeit poor quality) product. A bootleg version was released on DVD in China by BoYing. The release is of poor video/audio quality as well and includes a large blue animated logo that travels across the screen every 4 minutes and 45 seconds.[49]

The film has been released on video in its entirety in various European, Latin American, and Asian countries—in the UK it was released on PAL VHS tape in 1982 and again in 1991, and in Japan it appeared on NTSC VHS, Beta, and laserdisc in 1985 then again in 1990 with subtitles during songs. (Under Japanese copyright law it is now in the public domain.)[48]

Disney Enterprises has allowed key portions of the film to be issued on many VHS and DVD compilation videos in the U.S., as well as on the long-running Walt Disney anthology television series. Most recently, the "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" number and some of the animated portion of the movie were issued on the Alice in Wonderland 2-DVD Special Edition set, although in that instance this was originally incorporated as part of a 1950 Walt Disney TV special included on the DVD which promoted the then-forthcoming Alice in Wonderland film.

Over the years, Disney has made a variety of statements about whether and when the film would be re-released.[42][43][44][45] In March 2010, Disney CEO Robert Iger stated that there were no plans to release the movie on DVD, calling the film "antiquated" and "fairly offensive".[46] On November 15, 2010, Disney creative director Dave Bossert stated in an interview, "I can say there's been a lot of internal discussion about Song of the South. And at some point we're going to do something about it. I don't know when, but we will. We know we want people to see Song of the South because we realize it's a big piece of company history, and we want to do it the right way."[47]

Disney Enterprises has avoided making the complete version of the film directly available on home video in the United States because the frame story was deemed controversial by studio management. Film critic Roger Ebert, who normally disdained any attempt to keep films from any audience, supported the non-release position, claiming that most Disney films become a part of the consciousness of American children, who take films more literally than do adults. However, he favored allowing film students to have access to the film.[41]

Home media

Song of the South was re-released in theatres several times after its original Walt Disney Pictures/RKO Pictures premiere, each time through Buena Vista Pictures: in 1956; in 1972 for Disney's 50th anniversary; in 1973 as the second-half of a double bill with The Aristocats; in 1980 for the 100th anniversary of Harris' classic stories; and in 1986 for the film's own 40th anniversary and in promotion of the upcoming Splash Mountain attraction at three of Disney's theme parks.


A special Academy Award was given "To James Baskett for his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and story teller to the children of the world in Walt Disney's 'Song of the South.'" Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten in their portrayals of the children characters Johnny and Ginny were also discussed for Special Juvenile Awards, but in 1947 it was decided not to present such awards at all.[40]

The score by Daniele Amfitheatrof, Paul J. Smith, and Charles Wolcott was nominated in the "Scoring of a Musical Picture" category, and "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", written by Allie Wrubel and Ray Gilbert won the award for Best Song at the 20th Academy Awards on March 20, 1948.[39]

Academy Award recognition

The Disney Company has stated that, like Harris' book, the film takes place after the American Civil War and that all the African American characters in the movie are no longer slaves.[16] The Hays Office had asked Disney to "be certain that the frontispiece of the book mentioned establishes the date in the 1870s"; however, the final film carried no such statement.[7]

At the same time, however, some black press had mixed reactions on what they thought of Song of the South. While Richard B. Dier in The Afro-American was "thoroughly disgusted" by the film for being "as vicious a piece of propaganda for white supremacy as Hollywood ever produced," Herman Hill in The Pittsburgh Courier felt that Song of the South would "prove of inestimable goodwill in the furthering of interracial relations", and considered criticisms of the film to be "unadulterated hogwash symptomatic of the unfortunate racial neurosis that seems to be gripping so many of our humorless brethren these days."[38]

In the same vein, Time magazine, although it praised the film, also cautioned that it was "bound to land its maker in hot water", because the character of Uncle Remus was "bound to enrage all educated Negroes and a number of damyankees".[36] Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a congressman from Harlem, branded the film an "insult to American minorities [and] everything that America as a whole stands for."[37] The National Negro Congress set up picket lines in theaters in the big cities where the film played, with its protesters holding signs that read "Song of the South is an insult to the Negro people" and, lampooning "Jingle Bells", chanted: "Disney tells, Disney tells/lies about the South."[37] Jewish newspaper B'nai B'rith Messenger of Los Angeles considered the film to be "tall[ying] with the reputation that Disney is making for himself as an arch-reactionary".

"Both Jensen and Springarn were also confused" by the film’s Reconstruction setting, states Jim Hill Media, writing that "It was something that also confused other reviewers who from the tone of the film and the type of similar recent Hollywood movies [Gone with the Wind; Jezebel] assumed it must also be set during the time of slavery." Based on the Jensen and Springarn memos, White released the "official position" of the NAACP in a telegram that was widely quoted in newspapers.[34] The New York Times' Bosley Crowther, mentioned above, made a similar assumption, writing that the movie was a "travesty on the antebellum South."[35]

White however had not yet seen the film; his statement was based on memos he received from two NAACP staff members - Norma Jensen and Hope Springarn - who attended a press screening on November 20, 1946. Jensen had written that the film was "so artistically beautiful that it is difficult to be provoked over the clichés" but that it contained "all the clichés in the book", mentioning that she felt scenes like blacks singing traditional black songs were offensive as a stereotype. Springarn listed several things she found objectionable from the film, including the Negro dialect.[7]

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People recognizes in "Song of the South" remarkable artistic merit in the music and in the combination of living actors and the cartoon technique. It regrets, however, that in an effort neither to offend audiences in the north or south, the production helps to perpetuate a dangerously glorified picture of slavery. Making use of the beautiful Uncle Remus folklore, "Song of the South" unfortunately gives the impression of an idyllic master-slave relationship which is a distortion of the facts.[7]

When the film was first released, Walter Francis White, the executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) telegraphed major newspapers around the country with the following statement, erroneously claiming that the film depicted an antebellum setting:

Early in the film's production, there was concern that the material would encounter controversy. Disney publicist Vern Caldwell wrote to producer Perce Pearce that "the negro situation is a dangerous one. Between the negro haters and the negro lovers there are many chances to run afoul of situations that could run the gamut all the way from the nasty to the controversial."[3]

The film has received much critical attention for its handling of race. Cultural historian Jason Sperb describes the film as "one of Hollywood's most resiliently offensive racist texts",[33] noting as Gabler, Stephen Watts and Thomas Cripps all had previously, the film's appearance in the wake of the Double V Campaign during World War II ("victory over fascism abroad, victory over racism at home".)


Although the film was a financial success, netting the studio a slim profit of $226,000,[31] some critics were less enthusiastic about the film, not so much the animated portions as the live-action portions. Bosley Crowther for one wrote in The New York Times, "More and more, Walt Disney's craftsmen have been loading their feature films with so-called 'live action' in place of their animated whimsies of the past, and by just those proportions has the magic of these Disney films decreased," citing the ratio of live action to animation at two to one, concluding that is "approximately the ratio of its mediocrity to its charm."[3] However, the film also received positive notice. Time magazine called the film "topnotch Disney."[7] In 2003, the Online Film Critics Society ranked the film as the 67th greatest animated film of all time.[32]

Critical response

In 1946, a Giant Golden Book entitled Walt Disney's Uncle Remus Stories was published by Simon & Schuster. It featured 23 illustrated stories of Br'er Rabbit's escapades, all told in a Southern dialect based on the original Joel Chandler Harris stories.

As had been done earlier with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney produced a Sunday strip titled Uncle Remus & His Tales of Br'er Rabbit to give the film pre-release publicity. The strip was launched by King Features on October 14, 1945, more than a year before the film was released. Unlike the Snow White comic strip, which only adapted the film, Uncle Remus ran for decades, telling one story after another about the characters, some based on the legends and others new, until it ended on December 31, 1972.[29] Apart from the newspaper strips, Disney Br'er Rabbit comics were also produced for comic books; the first such stories appeared in late 1946. Produced both by Western Publishing and European publishers such as Egmont, they continue to appear to this day.[30]

[3] The film grossed $3.3 million at the box office.[28] The film premiered on November 12, 1946 at the


The animated segments of the film were directed by Wilfred Jackson, while the live-action segments were directed by Harve Foster.[3] On the final day of shooting, Jackson discovered that the scene in which Uncle Remus sings the film's signature song, "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", had not been properly blocked. According to Jackson, "We all sat there in a circle with the dollars running out, and nobody came up with anything. Then Walt suggested that they shoot Baskett in close-up, cover the lights with cardboard save for a sliver of blue sky behind his head, and then remove the cardboard from the lights when he began singing so that he would seem to be entering a bright new world of animation. Like Walt's idea for Bambi on ice, it made for one of the most memorable scenes in the film."[3]


Also cast in the production were child actors Bobby Driscoll, Luana Patten, and Glenn Leedy (his only screen appearance). Driscoll was the first actor to be under a personal contract with the Disney studio.[23] Patten had been a professional model since age 3, and caught the attention of Disney when she appeared on the cover of Woman's Home Companion magazine.[24] Leedy was discovered on the playground of the Booker T. Washington school in Phoenix, AZ by a talent scout from the Disney studio.[25] Ruth Warrick and Erik Rolf, cast as Johnny's mother and father, had actually been married during filming, but divorced in 1946.[26][27] Hattie McDaniel also appeared in the role of Aunt Tempy.

Song of the South was the first live-action dramatic film made by Disney.[21] James Baskett was cast as Uncle Remus after answering an ad to provide the voice of a talking butterfly. "I thought that, maybe, they'd try me out to furnish the voice for one of Uncle Remus' animals," Baskett is quoted as saying. Upon review of his voice, Disney wanted to meet Baskett personally, and had him tested for the role of Uncle Remus. Not only did Baskett get the part of the butterfly's voice, but also the voice of Br'er Fox and the live-action role of Uncle Remus as well.[22] Additionally, Baskett filled in as the voice of Br'er Rabbit for Johnny Lee in the "Laughing Place" scene after Lee was called away to do promotion for the picture.[21] Walt Disney liked Baskett, and told his sister, Ruth Disney, that Baskett was "the best actor, I believe, to be discovered in years." Even after the film's release, Walt stayed in contact with Baskett.[3] Disney also campaigned for Baskett to be given an Academy Award for his performance, saying that he had worked "almost wholly without direction" and had devised the characterization of Remus himself. Thanks to Disney's efforts, Baskett won an honorary Oscar in 1948.[3][7] After Baskett's death, his widow wrote Disney and told him that he had been a "friend indeed and [we] certainly have been in need."[3]


Rapf initially hesitated, but when he found out that most of the film would be live-action and that he could make extensive changes, he accepted the offer.[7] Rapf worked on Uncle Remus for about seven weeks. When he got into a personal dispute with Reymond, Rapf was taken off the project.[7] According to Rapf, Walt Disney "ended every conference by saying 'Well, I think we've really licked it now.' Then he'd call you the next morning and say, 'I've got a new idea.' And he'd have one. Sometimes the ideas were good, sometimes they were terrible, but you could never really satisfy him."[3] Morton Grant was assigned to the project.[7] Disney sent out the script for comment both within the studio and outside the studio.[3]

Rapf was a minority, a Jew, and an outspoken left-winger, and he himself feared that the film would inevitably be Uncle Tomish. "That's exactly why I want you to work on it," Walt told him, "because I know that you don't think I should make the movie. You're against Uncle Tomism, and you're a radical."[3]

Dalton Reymond wrote a treatment for the film.[7] Because Reymond was not a professional screenwriter, Maurice Rapf, who had been writing live-action features at the time, was asked by Walt Disney Productions to work with Reymond and co-writer Callum Webb to turn the treatment into a shootable screenplay.[7] According to Neal Gabler, one of the reasons Disney had hired Rapf to work with Reymond was to temper what Disney feared would be Reymond's "white Southern slant".


Disney first began to negotiate with Harris' family for the rights in 1939, and by late summer of that year he already had one of his storyboard artists summarize the more promising tales and draw up four boards' worth of story sketches.[3] In November 1940, Disney visited the Harris' home in Atlanta. He told Variety that he wanted to "get an authentic feeling of Uncle Remus country so we can do as faithful a job as possible to these stories."[3] Roy Oliver Disney had misgivings about the project, doubting that it was "big enough in caliber and natural draft" to warrant a budget over $1 million and more than twenty-five minutes of animation, but in June 1944, Walt hired Southern-born writer Dalton Reymond to write the screenplay, and he met frequently with King Vidor, whom he was trying to interest in directing the live-action sequences.[3] Production started under the title Uncle Remus.[3][7] Filming began in December 1944 in Phoenix, where the studio had constructed a plantation and cotton fields for outdoor scenes, and Walt Disney left for the location to oversee what he called "atmospheric shots".[3] Back in Hollywood, the live action scenes were filmed at the Samuel Goldwyn Studio.

Walt Disney had long wanted to make a film based on the Uncle Remus storybook, but it wasn't until the mid-1940s that he had found a way to give the stories an adequate film equivalent, in scope and fidelity. "I always felt that Uncle Remus should be played by a living person," Disney is quoted as saying, "as should also the young boy to whom Harris' old Negro philosopher relates his vivid stories of the Briar Patch. Several tests in previous pictures, especially in The Three Caballeros, were encouraging in the way living action and animation could be dovetailed. Finally, months ago, we 'took our foot in hand,' in the words of Uncle Remus, and jumped into our most venturesome but also more pleasurable undertaking."[20]

History and production

"Let the Rain Pour Down" is set to the melody of "Midnight Special," a traditional blues song popularized by Lead Belly (Huddie William Ledbetter). The song title, "Look at the Sun," appeared in some early press books, though it is not actually in the film. The song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" was influenced by the chorus of the pre-Civil War folk song "Zip Coon", that is considered racist as it plays on an African American stereotype.[18][19]

  • "Song of the South" Written by Sam Coslow and Arthur Johnston; performed by the Disney Studio Choir
  • "Uncle Remus Said" Written by Eliot Daniel, Hy Heath, and Johnny Lange; performed by the Hall Johnson Choir
  • "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" Written by Allie Wrubel and Ray Gilbert; performed by James Baskett
  • "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" (reprise) Performed by Bobby Driscoll
  • "Who Wants to Live Like That?" Written by Ken Darby and Foster Carling; performed by James Baskett
  • "Let the Rain Pour Down" (uptempo) Written by Ken Darby and Foster Carling; performed by the Hall Johnson Choir
  • "How Do You Do?" Written by Robert MacGimsey; performed by Johnny Lee and James Baskett
  • "How Do You Do?" (reprise) Performed by Bobby Driscoll and Glenn Leedy
  • "Sooner or Later" Written by Charles Wolcott and Ray Gilbert; performed by Hattie McDaniel
  • "Everybody's Got a Laughing Place" Written by Allie Wrubel and Ray Gilbert; performed by James Baskett and Nick Stewart
  • "Let the Rain Pour Down" (downtempo) Written by Ken Darby and Foster Carling; performed by the Hall Johnson Choir
  • "All I Want" Traditional, new arrangement and lyrics by Ken Darby; performed by the Hall Johnson Choir
  • "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" (reprise) Performed by Bobby Driscoll, Luana Patten, Glenn Leedy, Johnny Lee, and James Baskett
  • "Song of the South" (reprise) Performed by the Disney Studio Choir

The songs are, in film order, as follows:

Nine songs are heard in the film, with four reprises. Nearly all of the vocal performances are by the largely African-American cast, and the renowned all-black Hall Johnson Choir sing four pieces: two versions of a blues number ("Let the Rain Pour Down"), one chain-reaction-style folk song,[17]("That's What Unle Remus Said") and one spiritual ("All I Want").


The last couple of minutes of the movie contain animation, as most of the cartoon characters show up in a live-action world to meet the live-action characters as they all sing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", and in the last seconds of the movie, the real world is slowly merged into an animated variation as the main protagonists walk off into the sunset.

  • "Br'er Rabbit Runs Away": about 8 minutes, including the song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah"
  • "Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby": about 12 minutes, interrupted with a short live-action scene about two thirds of the way into the cartoon, including the song "How Do You Do?"
  • "Br'er Rabbit's Laughing Place": about 5 minutes and the only segment that doesn't use Uncle Remus as an intro to its main story, including the song "Everybody's Got a Laughing Place"

There are three animated segments in the movie (in all, they last a total of 25 minutes). These animated sequences were later shown as stand-alone cartoon features on television. Each of these segments features at least one song that is heard in the various versions of Splash Mountain.




Johnny, Ginny, and Toby are next seen skipping along and singing while Johnny's returned puppy runs alongside them. Uncle Remus is also in the vicinity, and he is shocked when Br'er Rabbit and several of the other characters from his stories appear in front of them and interact with the children. Uncle Remus rushes to join the group, and they all skip away singing.

When Uncle Remus returns to the plantation with the children, Sally meets them on the way and is angry at Johnny for not having attended his own birthday party. Ginny mentions that Uncle Remus told them a story and Sally draws a line, warning him not to spend any more time with Johnny. Uncle Remus, saddened by the misunderstanding of his good intentions, packs his bags and leaves for Atlanta. Seeing Uncle Remus leaving from a distance, Johnny rushes to intercept him, taking a shortcut through the pasture, where he is attacked and seriously injured by the resident bull. While Johnny hovers between life and death, his father returns and reconciles with Sally. But Johnny calls for Uncle Remus, who has returned amidst all the commotion. Uncle Remus begins telling a tale of Br'er Rabbit and the Laughing Place, and the boy miraculously survives.

Johnny heeds the advice of how Br'er Rabbit used reverse psychology on Br'er Fox and begs the Favers Brothers not to tell their mother about the dog, which is precisely what they do, only to get a good spanking for it. Enraged, the boys vow revenge. They go to the plantation and tell Johnny's mother, who is upset that Uncle Remus kept the dog despite her order (which was unknown to Uncle Remus). She orders the old man not to tell any more stories to her son. The day of Johnny's birthday arrives, and Johnny picks up Ginny to take her to his party. Ginny's mother has used her wedding dress to make her daughter a beautiful dress for the party. On the way there, however, Joe and Jake pick another fight. Ginny gets pushed, and ends up in a mud puddle. With her dress ruined, the upset Ginny refuses to go to the party. Johnny, enraged with the way Joe and Jake treat Ginny, attacks them. Uncle Remus breaks up the fight and while Johnny goes to comfort Ginny, Uncle Remus scolds Joe and Jake, telling them not to pester Johnny and Ginny anymore. Johnny doesn't want to go either, especially since his father won't be there. Uncle Remus discovers the two dejected children and cheers them by telling the story of Br'er Rabbit and his "Laughing Place."

Clockwise from left: Ginny (Luana Patten), Uncle Remus (James Baskett), Johnny (Bobby Driscoll) and Toby (Glenn Leedy)

As Uncle Remus cooks, he mentions Br'er Rabbit again and the boy, curious, asks him to tell him more. After Uncle Remus tells a tale about Br'er Rabbit's attempt to run away from home, Johnny takes the advice and changes his mind about leaving the plantation, letting Uncle Remus take him back to his mother. Johnny makes friends with Toby, a little black boy who lives on the plantation, and Ginny Favers, a poor white neighbor. However, Ginny's two older brothers, Joe and Jake—who resemble Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear from Uncle Remus's stories, one being slick and fast-talking, the other big and a little slow—are not friendly at all; they constantly bully Ginny and Johnny. When Ginny gives Johnny a puppy, her brothers want to drown it. A rivalry breaks out among the three boys. Heartbroken because his mother won't let him keep the puppy, Johnny takes the dog to Uncle Remus and tells him of his troubles. Uncle Remus takes the dog in and delights Johnny and his friends with the fable of Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby, stressing that people shouldn't go messing around with something they have no business with in the first place.

Seven-year-old Johnny is excited about what he believes to be a vacation at his grandmother's Georgia plantation with his parents, John Sr. and Sally. When they arrive at the plantation, he discovers that his parents will be living apart for a while, and he is to live in the country with his mother and grandmother while his father returns to Atlanta to continue his controversial editorship in the city's newspaper. Johnny, distraught because his father has never left him or his mother before, leaves that night under cover of darkness and sets off for Atlanta with only a bindle. As Johnny sneaks away from the plantation, he is attracted by the voice of Uncle Remus telling tales "in his old-timey way" of a character named Br'er Rabbit. Curious, Johnny hides behind a nearby tree to spy on the group of people sitting around the fire. By this time, word has gotten out that Johnny is gone and some plantation residents, who are sent out to find him, ask if Uncle Remus has seen the boy. Uncle Remus replies that he's with him. Shortly afterwards, he catches up with Johnny, who sits crying on a nearby log. He befriends the young boy and offers him some food for the journey, taking him back to his cabin.


The film is set on a Atlanta. Although sometimes interpreted as taking place before the US Civil War, while slavery was still in force in the region, the setting is the later Reconstruction Era, after slavery was abolished.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] Harris' original Uncle Remus stories were all set after the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery (Harris himself, born in 1845, was a racial reconciliation activist writer and journalist of the Reconstruction era). The film makes several indirect references to the Reconstruction era: clothing is in the newer late-Victorian style; Uncle Remus is free to leave the plantation at will; black field hands are sharecroppers, etc.[16]



  • Setting 1
  • Plot 2
  • Cast 3
    • Voices 3.1
  • Animation 4
  • Songs 5
  • History and production 6
    • Writing 6.1
    • Casting 6.2
    • Direction 6.3
  • Release 7
    • Critical response 7.1
    • Controversies 7.2
    • Academy Award recognition 7.3
    • Re-releases 7.4
    • Home media 7.5
  • References in other Disney media 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

[5] in the United States.home video Consequently it has never been released in its entirety on [4]

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