1. Snow White – 1937
It has to be put in the top 10 because without this we’d have none of the others; it’s the original, and I believe the only Disney film that doesn’t have single member of the cast still alive. Walt Disney took a creepy kids tale and somehow turned it into a family friendly film complete with chirping little birds in a green, flourishing forest. The witch however, is still considered by many to be the scariest Disney villain of all and the ride based on it at Disneyland actually has a health warning due to the section with the witch. The film does of course end happily (is there a Disney film that doesn’t?) leaving you with the tune to “Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work we go!” stuck in your head. A film about a young girl that moves in with seven old men would never pass the censors these days so enjoy this film whilst you can.
2. Pinocchio – 1940
Walt Disney once again steals somebody else’s story and turns it into a masterpiece. This film is probably best known for its music more than anything else and it even won two Oscars including one for the song, “When You Wish Upon A Star”, one of the best known songs in cinema history. A story with a talking puppet, a bloke called Geppetto, a cricket that wears a top hat, and a whale that eats the lot of them isn’t bad in my eyes.
3. Dumbo – 1941
A film in which the lead character doesn’t utter a single word. Surrounded by other elephants that talk, talking crows, and a talking mouse, Dumbo still manages to keep quiet. That would explain why he was called Dumbo though. This isn’t one of my personal favourites but I know a lot of people have a soft spot for it so I had to put it in. It’s one of Disney’s shorter films at just 63 minutes but it still manages to entertain and pack in a full story complete with the emotion brought about by Dumbo’s mother being imprisoned in a small cage.
4. Alice in Wonderland – 1951
Alice in Wonderland was already a hugely popular book before Walt Disney got his hands on it so surely it could only disappoint? Shockingly, no. Disney did what they’ve done time and time again and created another classic but with the addition of more drug related innuendo than any other film before. However, I don’t believe these were intentional; you can make your own decision though. The characters in this film are probably the weirdest ever conceived: the Cheshire cat, the mad hatter, and the Queen of Hearts to name just a few. Weirdness is something that you love as a kid, it feeds your imagination and it’s C. S. Lewis’ influence rather than Disney’s that get this film onto the list.
5. Lady and the Tramp – 1955
This is only here because Ms NY said it’s her favourite and I suppose it’s only fair that a female point of view is taken into consideration. I think it’s fair to say that this is girls’ film. It’s an early, animated romantic comedy that I have no real care for. It is however worth mentioning that this was the first film that Disney made that was based on a completely original story. It only took 18 years of using other peoples work to get round to it. It also contains the well-known spaghetti scene but apart from that it’s relatively unknown. In my eyes, not one of Disney’s best. I think they knew that too and so they went straight back to using other people’s scripts with their next big hit being Sleeping Beauty.
6. Jungle Book – 1967
We have a 12-year jump here from Lady and the Tramp to this. In the late 50s and early 60s Disney seemed to concentrate on short cartoons (excluding 1959’s Sleeping Beauty) or live action films such as Mary Poppins in 1964. It had to get a mention somewhere, it’s got the main man Dick Van D*ke in it, possibly the only actor on Earth whose name won’t get past SR’s swear filter. Anyway, the Jungle Book was the last feature length animation that Walt Disney himself worked on although he died before it got its cinema release. This is definitely one of my favourites, at least in my top 3. The songs alone make it a classic with “The Bare Necessities” (cruelly beaten by some crappy song in Doctor Dolittle at the Oscars) and “I Wanna Be Like You”. Baloo, voiced by Phil Harris, is one of the most perfect characters in Disney’s history, perfectly scripted and performed to perfection also. The supporting cast were also done brilliantly; Bagheera the panther, Mowgli, Kaa the snake, and Shere Khan, done with an English accent by a Russian born bloke who committed suicide in Spain. Perfect.
7. The Aristocats – 1970
Some may see this as an odd choice but I have a soft spot for it. There’s a character called Scat Cat. How can you not like it? Not only that but the bloke that voices him is called Scatman Crothers, the same guy that voiced Hong Kong Phooey. Thomas O’Malley is another great character even if he does only come into the film around halfway through. A nice, if simple story, about some cats that are kidnapped by a butler that feels he is more deserving of the old woman’s money. The butler isn’t really a particularly menacing villain, which could be considered as one of the films downfalls but the cats’ journey back to central Paris with the streetwise O’Malley is what makes this film worthwhile.
8. Beauty and the Beast – 1991
Wow. A huge 21year jump. Disney didn’t exactly collapse in the 70s and 80s; they released the not too spectacular Robin Hood, The Rescuers, the under-rated The Fox and the Hound, and The Little Mermaid. Beauty and the Beast was in my opinion a real revival Disney. The animation is spectacular, especially the ballroom scene, though this was the first film where the Disney animators had computer technology available to them. It won two Oscars, in exactly the same categories as Pinocchio 51 years earlier, with “Beauty and the Beast” replacing “When You Wish Upon A Star”. It also received a further four Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture, beaten by Silence of the Lambs but it remains the only animated to film to even get a nomination in this category. The film is a classic piece of Disney that deserves recognition.
9. Aladdin – 1992
A personal favourite of many members of the forum, I know. Aladdin again won two Oscars and you’ll never guess which categories. That’s right, Original Score and Original Song for “A Whole New World”, just like it’s predecessors. Robin Williams puts out a great performance as the Genie and a special mention goes to Frank Welker for his work as Abu. The story is great, it has to be because to be fair the characters aren’t some of Disney’s strongest, and the humour helps it through. After Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin is far more boyish, with sword fighting, flying carpets searching for treasure, battling the evil ‘uncle’, and ultimately winning the girl. Aladdin also does well by managing to be the only Disney film to spawn a half decent sequel.
10. The Lion King – 1994
57 after Snow White and we finish with what in my eyes is the greatest Disney masterpiece of all. The Lion King is the last of the great Disney films, since then we have only been subjected to such rubbish as the Emperor’s New Groove and Lilo and Stitch. Right from the beginning when the “Cirlce of Life” begins and Simba is held out to the masses of animals below, you know this film is something special. Some people refer to this as a revised version of Bambi (which narrowly missed the cut for this list) but it’s far more powerful and most importantly, far more entertaining. The death of Mufasa is a sad moment, more so than that of Bambi’s mother because you actually see it happen on screen. Scar manages to be a very effective villain, mainly due to the fact that we see him push Mufasa down the cliff though he sends out the hyenas to do most of the other work during the film. The songs are all beautifully written from the “Circle of Life” to “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and the more upbeat “I’m Gonna Be A Mighty King” and the legendary “Hakuna Matata”. The Lion King also won two Oscars; I’ll leave you to guess what for. It would have had at least a nomination for Best Picture had it not been unfortunate enough to come out in the same year as Forrest Gump, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, and The Shawshank Redemption. The Lion King manages to get away with an all-star cast. No other Disney film has been filled with so many well-known actors and oddly it works. You’d think it would be a distraction but it really isn’t. Simba’s time with Timon and Pumbaa is brilliant and Simba’s return to defeat Scar is gloriously performed with a perfect, Disney-esque, happy ending. So why did they have to spoil it with a sequel?
These days all Disney manages to do is release sequels. We’ve had sequels for the Lion King, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, and the Jungle Book. More are in the pipeline including the sickening Snow White 2. Should that actually happen, Disney should be truly ashamed of themselves.
Here are only ten Disney films. I could have used Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, The Fox and the Hound, Robin Hood, The Rescuers, and far more that I need not list. So how did 60 years of genius lead to the state of Disney today? Go to Disneyland and you won’t see a single ride or attraction based on any of the newer Disney films. They realise they’re crap and so now they’ve begun to make sequels to all of the classics, tarnishing their legacy. Walt Disney must be turning in his grave. He left his company in a state of bliss, the Jungle Book and Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day were both nearing completion and both turned into great successes. But then the slump began, which in my opinion is a testimony to how influential Walt Disney actually was. It took until 1989 with The Little Mermaid for a revival to occur but it was a revival that lasted just 5 years.
Toy Story did well for them as a computer generated film and deservedly so but traditional animation has all but vanished. There were rumours that Home on the Range would be Disney’s last animated film but with the number of sequels planned that seems unlikely. The real problem with Disney making sequels is that they are bad at making their own scripts. Lady and the Tramp is the only one of the ten films listed above to be based on a completely original script and it was the only one to not get at least an Oscar nomination, never mind a win. Where Disney excels is in taking other pieces of work and adapting them. Somebody that works there needs to buy a Hans Christian Anderson book and start reading it quickly. They must have one lying around somewhere considering they did the Little Mermaid.
The ability of the Disney songwriters also needs to be mentioned. I know of 5 Disney films that have won both the Best Original Score and Best Original Song at the Oscars (Pinocchio, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Pocahontas). Various other films have managed to win one or the other or at least a nomination in those categories. Wolfgang Reitherman also needs a special mention. Director of 13 of Disney’s films including the Jungle Book, producer of 5 films, and animator on 34 films including Snow White.
Well, Disney have come back from a slump before but can they do it again? Last time there was little competition, now we’re in a world obsessed by CGI and Pixar will soon end their partnership with Disney. R.I.P. 2D animation.
The conclusion has turned into a bit more of a rant than I anticipated, so I’ll end with a salute to Walt Disney, Wolfgang Reitherman, and those others that worked on the Disney films back in the good old days, and we can only pray that their successors see the errors of their ways and fast, before it’s too late. And of course, which out of the top ten would you consider to be number one?
And it didn't pick up the s on the end of "letters" so I had to edit this post to get it in.
> (because it almopst never happens)
Hey munn, you spelt 'almost' incorrectly. You got it WRONG WRONG WRONG!
You got it out of me.
I saw the words "Winnie The Pooh".
I jump to conclusions like this:
Wow bam bang conclusion "my god I can't believe he said tha tnow I'll have to correct him becasue I'm such a pedant and then I'll have about 16 posts afterwards explaining my jumpiness at how I came to such a conclusion because everybody is too stupiod to realise that this is exactly what I did thankyou verymuch"
Does that make it any easier to understand?