Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) had been a gamble for Walt Disney, but one that had paid off both critically and economically. But was Disney successful because of the novelty of a feature-length cartoon? Or was there something here that he could build on? Dozens of films later, we know the answer to that story, but as 1940 rolled around the answer was still unclear.
Pinocchio was to be Disney’s second attempt at success, and they took pains to differentiate it from its predecessor. While Snow White had been a fairy-tale of the Brothers Grimm variety, Pinocchio was based on a 57-year old Italian children’s novel. The former centered around women, a princess, and her evil step-mother, while the latter was a boys tale of adventure with a morale. We all know the story of Pinocchio: a puppet that wants to be a real boy, a nose that grows when he lies, and about the lengths that he goes to be reunited with his father. It’s an amazing story, told well. And yet, it was also a box-office failure. It seems inconceivable.
Read on for a recap and my thoughts on this second Disney classic.