Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Movie Review: "Cinderella" (1950)

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Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
Year: 1950
Rating: G
Running Time: 1 hour, 14 minutes

After the death of her father, Cinderella (Ilene Woods) is left to be raised by her stepmother Lady Tremaine (Eleanor Audley). Lady Tremaine is cruel and treats Cinderella like a servant, forcing Cinderella to wait on her and her two daughters Drizella (Rhoda Williams) and Anastasia (Lucille Bliss). When the Prince (William Phipps) returns to the kingdom, his father decides to throw a royal ball to celebrate his son's return in the hopes that the Prince will find a wife. When Lady Tremaine makes sure Cinderella can't go to the ball by overloading her with chores, Cinderella is crushed. But, with the help of her mice friends and a fairy godmother, she may get to go after all.  

It has probably been a good 20 years since either of us had watched "Cinderella," so with Disney's upcoming live action version hitting theaters this week, we figured we would revisit this old animated Disney classic. There is definitely a certain nostalgia factor to watching a movie like this, and despite it predating either of us, both BigJ and I grew up watching it because our parents shared it with us when we were very young. I can distinctly remember my grandma pulling out her VHS copy of this movie and parking me in front of the TV to watch it. Of course, what stood out most for us as kids was the music, like the Oscar nominated song "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo," but that song and many others in the film are actually very short and don't take up as much time as they would in a full blown musical. We thought most of the in between scenes were filled with music, but apparently not. It's interesting what you remember as kids, am I right? These songs are memorable even now, and though short, weave fantastically in and around the goings on of the movie. Though Cinderella is the main and title character, much of the film's focus, especially in the beginning, is not on her, but on her little mouse friends, who sing and dance and help with the sewing. They have many instances throughout where they have Tom and Jerry types of scenes with the wicked cat Lucifer. Whether it be to get the food Cinderella is giving out, or to get beads for Cinderella's dress, or to get a key to rescue Cinderella from her locked room, the mice and their conflict with the cat are what drives the majority of this film. We understand why they are such a big part of the movie as the rest of it is comprised of Cinderella doing household chores and being yelled at by her stepsisters and stepmother, and if that was the whole film, it wouldn't have much appeal to children. Even now, knowing the story, it's still not all that appealing, even to adults! Watching poor Cinderella get yelled at for an hour and 14 minutes is sort of a bummer. Apart from the plot, all of the actresses and actors who do voice work do an excellent job conveying their character's emotions, especially Eleanor Audley, who is as evil and wretched as can be as Lady Tremaine. Some of the characters are rather bland, but it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the film.

Overall, this colorful, classic Disney animation is nice to watch everyone now and then. Unfortunately, much of the message conveyed in "Cinderella" is very antiquated in modern times, so some of its magic and luster was lost on us as jaded adults, but this is the ultimate rags-to-riches love story, so we guess it has to count for something.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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