- Disney released its first animated film “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs” in 1937.
- Since then, Disney films have become favourites with children and adults alike.
- Lesser-known movies include “Make Mine Music,” “The Great Locomotive Chase,” and “The Third Man On The Mountain.”
Although most people are familiar with animated heavy-hitters like “Cinderella,” “Peter Pan,” and “Mulan,” Disney produced many movies that have gone under-the-radar over the years.
Disney’s first animated feature film “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs” was released in 1937, and has been cited as the number one animated feature of all time. After the success of “Snow White,” Disney began producing a variety of films, ranging from animated musicals to live action westerns and everything in between.
Here are some Disney movies from the vault that you may never have heard of.
“The Reluctant Dragon” (1941) is half live action and half animation.
This 1941 film provides the audience with insight into how the animation process works in a mix of live action and animated sequences. The plot centres on a visit to the Walt Disney Studios by comic Robert Benchley. Benchley tours the facility while trying to convince Walt Disney into creating a film about a shy dragon. The film is based on Kenneth Grahame’s 1898 short story of the same title.
“Saludos Amigos” (1942) is set in South America.
“Saludos Amigos” is the sixth feature-length film in the Disney Animated Canon. It features a series of short stories, in a mix of live action and animated styles. The film is heavily influenced by South American cultures and is set in Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil. Disney favourites Donald Duck and Goofy are involved in two of the feature’s four short stories, which paved the way for the release of Donald Duck’s “The Three Caballeros” just two years later.
“Make Mine Music” (1946) was released during WWII.
The eighth movie in the Disney Animated Canon, “Make Mine Music” is one of six “package” films released by Walt Disney Studios. These package films were produced when most of the production staff was being drafted into World War II, and consisted of small segments set to music. “Make Mine Music” has 10 different sections, including “Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet” accompanied by music by The Andrews Sisters, and “Without You” sung by Andy Russell.
“Fun And Fancy Free” (1947) was Walt Disney’s last time voicing Mickey Mouse.
The fourth package film created by Disney is “Fun And Fancy-Free.” It consists of two segments, “Bongo” and “Mickey And The Beanstalk,” which are introduced by Pinocchio’s Jiminy Cricket.
This was the last movie Walt Disney was the voice of Mickey Mouse in, later handing off the role to sound effects artist Jimmy MacDonald.
“So Dear To My Heart” (1948) is the story of a boy and a lamb.
“The Great Locomotive Chase” (1956) is based on a true story.
“The Great Locomotive Chase” is based on a true story of Union soldiers who went undercover to hijack a Confederate locomotive during the Civil War. The goal was to tear up as much of the tracks from Atlanta to Chattanooga as possible in hopes of ending the war early.
“The Light In The Forest” (1958) is about a boy being helped out by Native Americans.
“Third Man On The Mountain” (1959) inspired the Matterhorn ride in Disneyland.
Set in the “golden age of alpinism,” “Third Man On The Mountain” follows the journey of Rudi, who attempts to climb the most dangerous peak in the region, The Citadel. While filming, Walt Disney reportedly fell in love with the concept and ultimately created Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds ride.
“Kidnapped” (1960) features a character sold into slavery.
“Kidnapped” is based on a novel by the same name by author Robert Louis Stevenson. Set in 18-century Scotland, the film is the story of David Balfour following his father’s untimely death. Balfour is tricked by his uncle and sold into slavery, and faces many dangerous encounters.
“Bon Voyage!” (1962) is about a family’s adventure to France.
In “Bon Voyage!” an all-American family sets sail on the Europe-bound S.S. United States. The Willard family had been saving for years to take their “dream” vacation to France, which quickly becomes an unforeseen adventure, including a variety of romantic entanglements.
“A Tiger Walks” (1964) is an adventure involving a tiger.
When a tiger named Raja escapes from a travelling circus, it settles in the woods of a small town. Everyone in town wants Raja to be found and killed, with the exception of the sheriff’s daughter Julie. Julie wants Raja to be found and put in a zoo and starts a nationwide campaign to buy the tiger from the circus. Julie, her father, and a tiger trainer must first find Raja before the National Guard does.
“The Monkey’s Uncle” (1965) is a story about football.
“The Monkey’s Uncle” stars Tommy Kirk as college student Merlin Jones and Annette Funicello as his girlfriend, Jennifer. Jones has a legal “nephew” – a monkey named Stanley – which is where the film gets its title. The college is about to lose funding for their football team due to low grades, and Jones is tasked with creating an “honest way to cheat.” Jones eventually creates a sleep-learning system to help the team, and later a man-powered aeroplane.
“Scandalous John” (1971) loses his wife and tries to maintain his farm.
In “Scandalous John,” an old ranch farmer who has just lost his wife fights to live out the rest of his days in the way he wants to. He is facing a legal battle to keep his land safe from a developer who wants to build a dam and flood the property. Other characters include the ranch hand Paco, an illegal immigrant, and the farmer’s daughter Amanda.
“The Great Mouse Detective” (1986) is about mice living in Victorian England.
“The Great Mouse Detective” was created by the same team as “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid,” and follows a group of mice who live in Victorian London. The story is based on “Basil Of Baker Street” by Eve Titus and draws on themes from Sherlock Holmes. This film is widely known as being an underrated favourite and has become a cult classic over the years.
“Snowball Express” (1972) follows a family building a ski resort.
When New York businessman John Baxter inherits his uncle’s Colorado hotel, he trades his corporate office for the promise of a golden opportunity out west. When he arrives, the hotel is in shambles. With no other attractions in sight, Baxter and his wife decide to build a ski lodge on the immense property.
“The Biscuit Eater” (1972) shows two kids bonding over a feral dog.
In “Where The Toys Come From” (1989) toys learn where they were made.
Two toys – Peepers and Zoom – and their owner Robin go on an adventure to discover how they came to be. They travel first to a factory, and later to Japan to find their maker.
“One Magic Christmas” (1985) follows a struggling mother.
“One Magic Christmas” stars Mary Steenburgen as Ginny Grainger, a mother of two whose husband has lost his job. Mary does all she can to make ends meet, but struggles to see the “true meaning of Christmas.” An angel steps in to help Mary and reminds her that it’s not the presents under the tree that matter, but the people around it.
“Tall Tale” (1995) stars Patrick Swayze.
Released as a “family western” in 1995, “Tall Tale” stars the late Patrick Swayze as Pecos Bill alongside Nick Stahl as Daniel Hackett, a young farmer who dreams of life in New York City. After his father is killed by a greedy land developer, Hackett teams up with tall-tale legends like Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan to stand up for the local farming community.
“Dinosaur” (2000) was the first Disney film with CGI.
“Dinosaur” was hailed by critics as being “a must-see for anyone who wants to see the next stage in computer-generated animation,” and was Disney’s first try at entering the realm of CGI films. Although it was a major flop at the box office, “Dinosaur” helped Disney catch up with competitor studios and introduced a move away from standard hand-drawn animation of the past.
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