lead astray

Pinocchio (1940 film)

Pinocchio is the second animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics. It was produced by Walt Disney and was originally released to theatres by RKO Radio Pictures on February 7, 1940. Based on the story Pinocchio: Tale of a Puppet by Carlo Collodi, it was made in response to the enormous success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The plot of the film involves a wooden puppet being brought to life by a blue fairy, who tells him he can become a real boy if he proves himself "brave, truthful, and unselfish". Thus begin the puppet's adventures to become a real boy, which involve many encounters with a host of unsavory characters.

The film was adapted by Aurelius Battaglia, William Cottrell, Otto Englander, Erdman Penner, Joseph Sabo, Ted Sears, and Webb Smith from Collodi's book. The production was supervised by Ben Sharpsteen and Hamilton Luske, and the film's sequences were directed by Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, and Bill Roberts.


Geppetto makes a wood puppet called Pinocchio. His wish that Pinocchio be a human is unexpectedly granted by Blue Fairy, however she only animates the puppet telling him that he has to prove himself in order to become a "real boy". Blue Fairy assigns Jiminy Cricket to act as Pinocchio's conscience and keep him out of wrong, and Jiminy requests that if he succeeds, he wants a medal. Jiminy is not too successful in this endeavor and most of the film is spent with Pinocchio deep in wrong.

On his first day of school Pinocchio is lead astray by the conniving Honest John and Gideon who convince him to join Stromboli's puppet show instead. Pinocchio becomes Stromboli's star attraction but Stromboli abuses Pinocchio by locking him in a bird cage. Stromboli also tells Pinocchio that "once you get old, I'll turn you into fire wood." The Blue Fairy appears and questions Pinocchio about his situation, Pinocchio lies about how he got into the situation but recants when his nose grows in size. With the help of the Blue Fairy and Jiminy, Pinocchio escapes from the cage after his nose is returned to normal.

Honest John and Gideon once more manage to lead Pinocchio astray by convincing him to go to Pleasure Island. On his way he befriends Lampwick, a misbehaved and destructive boy who convinces Pinocchio to act like he and the other boys on Pleasure Island do. Pinocchio enjoys gambling, smoking, getting drunk and destroying Pleasure Island much to Jiminy's dismay. However Jiminy discovers that the island has the power to turn boys who "make jackasses of themselves" into literal donkeys. These boys are then sold to work in the local salt mines.

Lampwick is transformed but Pinocchio manages to escape with only his ears transformed and having gained a donkey's tail, they escape Pleasure Island and return to Geppetto's house. However, when he returns to Geppetto's store the carpenter and his pets, who somehow learned that Pinocchio was on Pleasure Island, have gone to sea in search for him.

To search for Geppetto, Pinocchio and Jiminy manage to traverse underwater. However they are eaten by the gigantic whale Monstro, within they find that Geppeto and his pets also reside there having been swallowed themselves. Pinocchio devises an escape plan by burning wood in order to make Monstro sneeze. The plan works but in the process Monstro chases after them. Geppetto nearly drowns and asks Pinocchio to save himself, by swimming for shore. Pinocchio grabs his father and tries to swim to shore, but in the process, Monstro bumps into a huge boulder and causes a huge tidal wave, which washes everyone onto shore. Geppetto survives, but Pinocchio drowns and is dead.

Geppeto, Jiminy and the pets are distraught and return home with Pinocchio's body. The Blue Fairy decides that Pinocchio has proved his worth and brings him back to life and also turns him into a real boy. Everyone is overjoyed and they begin to celebrate. The Blue Fairy rewards Jiminy with the medal he requested when he was assigned as Pinocchio's conscience. The movie ends with Jiminy singing the classic song "When You Wish upon a Star".




The plan for the original film was considerably different from what was released. Numerous characters and plot points, many of which came from the original novel, were used in early drafts. Producer Walt Disney was displeased with the work that was being done and called a halt to the project midway into production so that the concept could be rethought and the characters redesigned.

Originally, Pinocchio was to be depicted as a Charlie McCarthy-esque wise guy, equally as rambunctious and sarcastic as the puppet in the original novel. He looked exactly like a real wooden puppet with, among other things, a long pointed nose, a peaked cap, and bare wooden hands. But Walt found that no one could really sympathize with such a character and so the designers had to redesign the puppet as much as possible. Eventually, they revised the puppet to make him look more like a real boy, with, among other things, a button nose, a child's Tyrolean hat, and standard cartoon character 4-fingered (or 3 and a thumb) hands with Mickey Mouse-type gloves on them. The only parts of him that still looked more or less like a puppet were his arms and legs.

Additionally, it was at this stage that the character of the cricket was expanded. Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards) became central to the story. Originally the cricket wasn't even in the film. Once added, he was depicted as an actual (that is, less anthropomorphized) cricket with toothed legs and waving anntenae. But again Walt wanted someone more likable, so Ward Kimball conjured up "a little man with no ears. That was the only thing about him that was like an insect."

Mel Blanc (most famous for voicing many of the characters in Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons), was hired to perform the voice of Gideon the Cat, who was Foulfellow the Fox's sidekick. However, it was eventually decided for Gideon to be mute (just like Dopey, whose whimsical, Harpo Marx-style persona made him one of Snow White's most comic and popular characters). All of Blanc's recorded dialogue in this film was subsequently deleted, save for a solitary hiccup, which was heard three times in the film.

Many of these ideas were later used in Geppetto (2000)

The influential abstract animator Oskar Fischinger contributed to the effects animation of the Blue Fairy's wand.

Film critic Leonard Maltin would later write that "with Pinocchio, Disney reached not only the height of his powers, but the apex of what many critics consider to be the realm of the animated cartoon.


Pinocchio was not commercially successful when first released, and Disney only recouped $1.9 million against a $2.6 million budget. The film achieved some success at the American box office, but was not able to profit, due to its poor performance in Europe. The timing of the film's release was a factor, with World War II cutting off European markets. Although the United States had not yet entered the war, the mood of the times may have meant less interest among Americans in seeing fantasy stories as they were in the days of Snow White. It also lacked the romance element that had proven popular in Snow White. To add insult to injury, Paolo Lorenzini, nephew of the original story's author, had beseeched the Italian Ministry of Popular Culture to charge Disney with slander for portraying the Italian puppet "so he easily could be mistaken for an American."

Nevertheless, there were positive reactions to the movie as well. Archer Winsten, who had criticized Snow White, wrote: "The faults that were in Snow White no longer exist. In writing of Pinocchio, you are limited only by your own power of expressing enthusiasm." Also, despite the poor timing of the release, the film did do well both critically and at the box office in the United States. Jiminy Cricket's song, "When You Wish Upon a Star," became a major hit and is still identified with the film, and later as a fanfare for The Walt Disney Company itself. Pinocchio also won the Academy Award for Best Song and the Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. In 1994, Pinocchio was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." In 2001 Terry Gilliam selected it as one of the ten best animated films of all time and in 2005 named it one of the 100 best movies of the last 80 years. Many film historians consider this to be the film that most closely approaches technical perfection of all the Disney animated features. Pinocchio earned $84,254,167 at the box office.

In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Pinocchio was acknowledged as the second best film in the animation genre, after Snow White.

Theatrical releases and home video

With the re-release of Snow White in 1944 came the tradition of re-releasing Disney films every seven to ten years. Pinocchio has been theatrically re-released in 1945, 1954, 1962, 1971, 1978, 1984, and 1992. The 1992 re-issue was digitally restored by cleaning and removing scratches from the original negatives one frame at a time, eliminating soundtrack distortions, and revitalizing the color. The film also received four video releases (and two DVD releases), being a hot-seller in 1985 (this print was re-mastered and re-issued in 1986). Then the more comprehensive digital restoration that was done for the 1992 re-issue was released on VHS,followed by the final VHS release(which was also the film's first release on Disney DVD as well as the first in the Walt Disney Gold Classics Collection VHS/DVD line) in 1999. The second Disney DVD release premiered the following year in 2000. The third DVD release and only the second Disney Blu-ray Disc release, following Sleeping Beauty's October 2008 release (a Platinum Editon), are scheduled for March 3, 2009.

United States theatrical release history

Worldwide release dates

Country Date
Brazil February 26, 1940
Argentina March 13, 1940
U.K. May 21, 1940
Australia October 24, 1940
Sweden February 3, 1941
Canada October 10, 1941
Eritrea December 3, 1941
Chile February 12, 1942
Switzerland May 13, 1942
Egypt November 12, 1942
Finland January 31, 1943
Spain February 7, 1944
France May 22, 1946
Belgium, Netherlands June 13, 1946
Norway September 5, 1946
Hong Kong December 19, 1946
Italy November 5, 1947
Poland February 7, 1949
Denmark May 25, 1950
West Germany March 23, 1951
Austria April 1, 1952
Japan May 17, 1952
Philippines October 7, 1952
Guyana May 14, 1954
Lebanon March 25, 1967
Saudi Arabia March 13, 1971
El Salvador August 17, 1976
Iraq December 14, 1976
Kuwait October 6, 1985

Pinocchio home video release history


Directing animators

Sequence Directors


Songs in film

The songs in Pinocchio were composed by Leigh Harline, Ned Washington and Frank Churchill. Paul J. Smith composed the incidental music score.

On Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic, this includes When You Wish upon a Star on the blue disc, Give a Little Whistle on the purple disc, and I've Got No Strings on the orange disc. And on Disney's Greatest Hits, this also includes When You Wish upon a Star on another blue disc, I've Got No Strings on the green disc, and Give a Little Whistle on the red disc.

Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee is not included on Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic or Disney's Greatest Hits.

Songs written for film but not used

  • "I'm a Happy-Go-Lucky Fellow" - Jiminy Cricket (this song eventually showed up in Fun and Fancy Free)
  • "As I Was Saying To the Duchess" - J. Worthington Foulfellow (this line is spoken briefly by Foulfellow in the film, however)
  • "Three Cheers For Anything" - Lampwick; Pinocchio; Alexander; Other Boys
  • "Monstro the Whale" - Chorus

Awards and honors

American Film Institute recognition

Media and merchandise

Theme Parks

Ice Show

Disney on Ice starring Pinocchio, toured nationally and internationally from 1987 to 1992. A shorter version of the story is also presented in the current Disney on ice production "100 Years of Magic"

Video Games

Pinocchio and Geppetto appear as characters in the game Kingdom Hearts. Monstro is also featured as one of the worlds. Jiminy Cricket appears as well, acting as a recorder, keeping a journal of the game’s progress in both Kingdom Hearts and its sequel, Kingdom Hearts II.


External links

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