Cinderella is a 1950 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney and originally released by RKO Radio Pictures. Based on the fairy tale Cinderella by Charles Perrault, it is the twelfth Disney animated feature film. Directing credits go to Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, and Wilfred Jackson.
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 (1940), Fantasia (1940), and Bambi (1942), 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.
With a wicked stepmother (Eleanor Audley) and two jealous stepsisters (Rhoda Williams, Lucille Bliss) who keep her enslaved and in rags, Cinderella (Ilene Woods) stands no chance of attending the royal ball. When her fairy godmother (Verna Felton) appears and magically transforms her reality into a dream come true, Cinderella enchants the handsome Prince Charming at the ball, but must face the wrath of her enraged stepmother and sisters when the spell wears off at midnight.
Why It Rocks
- Smooth, wonderfully done animation.
- It captures the magical tone to the source material with some it’s own kid-friendly adjustments.
- Well-done voice acting.
- Excellent character and story development.
- Cinderella is a very sympathetic main character, as she has to put up with her stepmother and step-siblings but stays strong.
- Cinderella’s mice and bird friends are adorable and likable side-characters.
- Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella are wicked and memorable antagonists.
- A very heartwarming ending.
- A hilarious running gag of Lucifer trying to eat the mice and failing.
- The second sequel, Cinderella III: A Twist In Time, is just as good.
- Many memorable songs, such as Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.
The film became a critical success garnering the best reception for a Disney animated film since Dumbo. In a personal letter to Walt Disney, director Michael Curtiz hailed the film as the "masterpiece of all pictures you have done." Producer Hal Wallis declared, "If this is not your best, it is very close to the top." Mae Tinee, reviewing for The Chicago Tribune, remarked "The film not only is handsome, with imaginative art and glowing colors to bedeck the old fairy tale, but it also is told in a gentle fashion, without the lurid villains which sometimes give little lots nightmares. It is enhanced by the sudden, piquant touches of humor and the music which appeal to old and young."
Contemporary reviews have remained positive. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film three out of four stars. Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader wrote the film "shows Disney at the tail end of his best period, when his backgrounds were still luminous with depth and detail and his incidental characters still had range and bite." Rotten Tomatoes reported the film received an approval rating of 97% based on 31 reviews with an average score of 7.81/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The rich colors, sweet songs, adorable mice and endearing (if suffering) heroine make Cinderella a nostalgically lovely charmer".