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A blend of live-action and animation, Fun and Fancy Free is comprised of two distinct tales linked by additional footage featuring Jiminy Cricket. Disney had been planning to use each story for separate feature films but the involvement of the United States in WWII disrupted his plans and the stories were shelved until after the war. The first is a musical story based on a children's story by Sinclair Lewis and is narrated by Dinah Shore, who also sings. It is the tale of a sad little circus bear named Bongo who is adored when performing but ignored after the show. Tired of travelling and being mistreated, he escapes into the forest where he discovers that life in the wilderness is not as free and easy as he thought. Despite the obstacles awaiting him, Bongo manages to find the thing he most longed for -- true love. By contemporary standards, the story is almost 'unbearably' sweet, but it should be remembered that such candy-coated fluff as "Bongo" was the remedy war-weary audiences needed to lift their spirits. The second tale is more zesty thanks to the peppery repartee between ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his two dummies Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. Together the three tell would-be Disney child star Luana Patton, a story based on "Jack and the Beanstalk" featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, who climb a magic beanstalk and try to retrieve a stolen singing harp to restore wealth to their impoverished kingdom.
In 1997, to commemorate the film's 50th anniversary, it was released on video tape in a restored version (the executive producers in charge of restoration were Phil Savenkic and Harry Arends) that has brought the colorful animated sequences back to their original depth and vibrance. This video version also contains a brief but informative documentary hosted by noted film historian Leonard Maltin and narrated by Corey Burton at the end that gives the fascinating history of the films. It also contains rare footage of the making of the films and a priceless segment in which Walt Disney performs as Mickey Mouse. "Mickey and the Beanstalk" was the last time Disney provided his voice. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi
- Edgar Bergen, Dinah Shore, (more)