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Print edition of the New York Post article “Exclusively on YouTube”, published 4/7/2013,
Chief Film Critic Lou Lumenick of the New York Post recently published an article on April 7th titled “Exclusively on YouTube“, which chronicles a few different films that are, essentially, just that: movies that the studios have not released on video or DVD and live exclusively on YouTube.com.
One of those films is Disney’s Academy Award-winning and controversial movie “Song of the South”. I was contacted by Mr. Lumenick back in March to get my thoughts on this. Also contacted was Disney historian Jim Korkis (who recently published the book “Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South?“)
So, if you still haven’t seen Song of the South and don’t want to purchase one of the numerous bootleg copies available on the Internet, now’s your chance to go check it out on YouTube. It will be interesting to see whether Disney decides to tighten their enforcement.
The other films mentioned that are currently in the same boat as Song of the South are The Great Gatsby (1949), Christmas Holiday (1944), and Once in a Lifetime (1932). Here’s hoping that all of these pieces of cinematic history get the preservation they deserve and eventually make their way to a home video release. Special thanks to Lou for publishing this article!
The Projection Booth, a web site featuring podcasts on all things cinema, is discussing Song of the South in Episode 102, with special guests Bruce Bickley, Jim Korkis & Jason Sperb. Here is the description from the podcast page:
We celebrate Black History Month by looking at the controversial Disney film Song of the South. Based upon Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus tales, we discuss Ralph Bakshi’s satire, Coonskin, and the complicated history of the Zip A Dee Doo Dah movie.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Special thanks to Mike of the Song of the South Yahoo Group for letting us know!
“Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South?” by Disney Historian Jim Korkis
Disney Historian Jim Korkis, well known for his columns on MousePlanet.com (including articles about Song of the South, under the pseudonym Wade Sampson), has just released the first ever book primarily focused on the history of Walt Disney’s Song of the South.
The book, entitled “Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South?” weighs in at 291 pages, with nearly 100 pages dedicated to the history, controversy, secrets and more surrounding the film. The remaining chapters detail many, many other “forbidden stories” about Disney. You are guaranteed to learn a lot from this book (I certainly did!)
The foreword is written by Disney Legend Floyd Norman, Disney’s first African-American animator and storyman. The book is also praised by film critic Leonard Maltin, CartoonBrew.com webmaster Jerry Beck, MouseTracksOnline.com webmaster Greg Ehrbar, and yours truly.
The book is currently available on Amazon.com in paperback ($19.95) and digital Kindle edition ($7.99). If you are interested in Song of the South, or just Disney history in general, this book is an absolute must read!
My sincere thanks goes out to Jim for all his time and effort to make this book a reality, and to editor Bob McLain of Theme Park Press. Read the full press release here.
Song of the South’s worldwide premier was on November 12, 1946. Happy 66th Birthday!
Photo Credit: Lynn Hobbs/Staff of The Eatonton Messenger
On the DVD front, we’ve received several reports that Song of the South is being sold on DVD at the Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton, Georgia. An article published by the Eatonton Messenger sums it up the best:
“…Uncle Remus Museum bookkeeper Bill Watterson said the local museum is one of several venues that carry the movie on DVD.
Watterson said he’d been searching for a good copy of the movie for quite a while, because “over the years, we’ve had a lot of requests for it.”
It wasn’t until early this summer that he found one through one of the museum’s book publishers.
“It’s much better quality than you normally see. That’s why we carry it,” Watterson said. “Being self-supportive, we can’t afford to have poor-quality products.”
The DVD costs $25 at the museum and includes bonus features such as music by Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers, interviews with Walt Disney and cast members, rare behind-the-scenes footage, and “Tales of Uncle Remus” audio book.”
You can read the full article by Lynn Hobbs here. It should be noted that Disney has never officially released this movie on DVD. The version that the museum is carrying is technically an unauthorized copy, though it will be interesting to see if Disney takes any action on this.
Over the past several years, bootleg (unofficial) DVDs of Song of the South have become more and more prevalent (including Amazon), and YouTube offers clips of the movie that Disney is no longer attempting to remove. In fact, the last time any action was taken on unauthorized distribution (that we know of) was April 2004, in which a South Carolina man was arraigned for pirating Song of the South on VHS and DVD (read article here).
Has Disney essentially given in and turned a blind eye, allowing fans to distribute the film as a way to ease demand while avoiding responsibility? Only time will tell. Thanks to everyone for the news reports!
Christian Blauvelt of Entertainment Weekly has compiled a list of 30 Best/Worst Disney Animated Movies. Among the worst is Song of the South:
“It’s a great irony of Disney’s filmmaking history that one of its most technologically progressive efforts should also be among its most socially regressive. Based on Joel Chandler Harris’ Uncle Remus stories, Song of the South is a disturbingly idyllic presentation of Reconstruction Era southern plantation life, glutted with racial stereotypes — as such, it’s never received any home video release. But it’s also one of the earliest, and most ambitions, attempts at mixing live-action photography with animation, an enduring technique also explored in 1949′s So Dear to My Heart, 1964′s Mary Poppins, 1987′s Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and 2007′s Enchanted. Despite the film itself being kept under lock and key in the Disney Vault, Song of the South‘s characters and setting inspired the Disney theme parks’ wildly popular Splash Mountain rides. And of course, this was the movie to give the world ”Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”
Also listed as the Worst Disney Animated Films: Robin Hood (1973), Home on the Range (2004), Chicken Little (2005), Brother Bear (2003), The Black Cauldron (1985), Hercules (1997), Sleeping Beauty (1959), Tarzan (1999), and The Great Mouse Detective (1986).
The following are what Entertainment Weekly considers to be the Best Disney Animated Films: Tangled (2010), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Mulan (1998), The Little Mermaid (1989), Cinderella (1950), Fantasia (1940), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Lady and the Tramp (1955), Dumbo (1941), Pinocchio (1940), The Aristocats (1970), Aladdin (1992), 101 Dalmatians (1961), The Lion King (1994), Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937), Peter Pan (1953), The Jungle Book (1967), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and Bambi (1942).
Interestingly, some of the movies in the “best of” list have been criticized for stereotypes as well, such as the crows in Dumbo, the Indians in Peter Pan, and the Siamese cat in the Aristocats. It’s also curious why Song of the South made it into the Disney Animated Films category, while other animation/live action hybrid films such as So Dear to My Heart and The Three Caballeros were listed among their Best/Worst Live Action films.
Thanks to Maggi for the news report!
D23, the Official Disney Fan Club, recently held a “Destination D” event at the Grand Ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, CA on August 12-13. This event was celebrating 75 Years of Disney Animated Features. Tickets cost $225 and were available to D23 members only.
The event kicked off with a welcome from Steven Clark, head of D23. There were several presentations throughout the first day, including Golden Age of Disney animation, the contributions of Roy Disney, and screenings of current Disney shorts. Of special interest was the following, which I will quote from Tom Bell’s DisUnplugged Blog:
“The afternoon continued with some never-before-seen or rarely seen Disney animation, including “Back to Neverland” with Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams, Roger Rabbit short “Tummy Trouble” and several commercials featuring Disney characters. There were two highlights of the presentation. The first was a strange idea that was considered for the “Pomp and Circumstance” section of Fantasia 2000 that included a procession of Disney prince and princesses followed by Dumbo and several storks delivering babies to the happy couples. The second, which took the audience by surprise, was the entire Zip A Dee Doo Dah section of the seldom-seen “Song of the South”.
Disney is well known for re-using the Academy Award-winning song from Song of the South in its promotions and such, but it is a rare thing for them to actually exhibit footage from the film itself. Perhaps this could be the start of a refreshing change in policy?
You can read more about the Destination D event over at Tom Bell’s DisUnplugged Blog here:
Day 1: http://www.disunplugged.com/2012/08/12/destination-d-75-years-of-disney-animation-features-day-1/
Day 2: http://www.disunplugged.com/2012/08/14/destination-d-75-years-of-disney-animated-features-day-2/
Special thanks to long-time reader Joey for the news report!
In an apparent error, Amazon.com’s DVD placeholder page for Song of the South listed the movie as slated for release on July 15, 2012, with the option to pre-order. However, this release was not official (the page showed the distributor as “Klassic Movies”, not Disney), and was quickly pulled today.
Interestingly, as of this article’s writing the page still shows buying options from other sellers, despite being unofficial (bootleg) copies. It will be interesting to see how long they remain up. You can view the other sellers here. Thanks to Joe and Cheryl for the news reports!
2012 marks the 20th anniversary of Walt Disney World’s Splash Mountain. To commemorate this occasion, on July 5th Disney has released a limited edition pin featuring Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. It is limited to an edition of 1000, and retails for $11.95. SKU #6680426.
Splash Mountain is the theme park ride based on the animated sequences of Song of the South. Disneyland’s Splash Mountain was the first to open in 1989, followed by Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland in 1992. You can watch the grand opening video over in the Splash Mountain section.
Hi everyone, here are a couple of site updates:
1) SongoftheSouth.net Merchandise (t-shirts, mugs, buttons, etc.) has received a much-needed overhaul, with literally dozens of new merchandise added. When I initially created these t-shirt designs back in 2005, CafePress.com (the company that makes these) had a very limited selection to choose from. Since then, they’ve added dark-colored clothing, baby clothes, and lots more. I thought it was high time I took advantage of this. I also created a new design as well. Check out the revamped store!
2) Song of the South Petition. Since approximately mid-April, the Song of the South Petition was no longer being updated with the latest signatures. I contacted PetitionOnline.com, but to no avail. Apparently Change.org is now the owner, and they’ve all but abandoned support for the old site. I was seriously considering starting a new petition over at Change.org, but their petitions have a maximum age of one year, so I would have to start a new one every year. Fortunately, the original petition has started working again! Unfortunately, anyone who signed the petition from April to mid-June probably didn’t get added. You might want to check and see if your name is there, and if not, try adding it again.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!
One of our readers has brought to our attention that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has updated their website with a section called Oscar Legacy, featuring all of the previous Academy Award ceremonies from 1927 to present.
Of special interest is the 20th Academy Awards, which was held at the Shrine Civic Auditorium on Saturday, March 20, 1948, honoring movies released in 1947. (Even though Song of the South premiered November 12, 1946, it was counted among the 1947 films.)
Song of the South won two Academy Awards: James Baskett received an Oscar ”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.” Also, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah won the award for Best Music (Song).
What makes this page special is a film clip from the UCLA Film & Television Archive, featuring a news reel from the 1948 Academy Awards. Here we get to see Mr. Baskett receive his Oscar, narrated in the first person by “Oscar” himself:
The second special award is to be made by Ms. Ingrid Bergman who presents me to Mr. James Baskett, so that my gleaming image may be a reminder that he gave us all a glowing and nostalgic happiness with his splendid Uncle Remus in the “Song of the South”.
The film clip can be viewed here:
Sadly, James Baskett passed away just four months later on July 9th at age 44, but his legacy will live on as being the first African American man to receive an Academy Award. (Incidentally, the first African American woman was Hattie McDaniel, who played Aunt Tempy in Song of the South). A special thanks to Bradley West for the news report!