UltimateDisney.com's Top 30 Live Action Disney Movies Countdown
7. Song of the South (1946)

A long time ago I got to talk with a little boy that just had seen Space Jam at the cinema. He was thrilled to see "the first movie ever" with real live people and cartoons. I told him that this was not new, and that movies like this had been made all since the '60s, and that was a movie called Mary Poppins. He did really not believe me but I did not care much about that. But this got me around to think about my answer and if it was correct. I was no expert in Disney movies and thought that I should look into this and see if I was correct. It was not long before I found out that I was not and I really had to find the movie Song of the South.

I live in Norway and it took me not long before I found out that this was never released here so I gave up my search. A couple of years later I got Internet and got to remember this old movie when I searched some English stores. There it was, and I was exited and ordered it at once.

The movie touched me a lot, the story was simple and what Disney movies really are about. Johnny (Bobby Driscoll) and his mother are taken by his father to his grandmothers (Lucile Watson) plantation down south because his father has problems in town in this hard time after the war. Johnny does not like it at the plantation and he soon decides to run back to his father, but when he passes the homes of the black workers he stops to listen at a old man called Uncle Remus (James Baskett) tell a story to the kids about Br'er Rabbit. When all the kids are gone he asks little Johnny what he is doing and Johnny tells it like it is, he is going to his dad in the town. Uncle Remus asks if he can come with him because he also wants to run away to town and Johnny thinks this is a great idea. But before they go Uncle Remus tricks Johnny into asking more about Br'er Rabbit and then he gets another story from when Br'er Rabbit wanted to run away from home as well. This is the great part of the stories from Uncle Remus because they all have a moral. It ends with little Johnny realizing that he is best of returning to his mother and grandmother that now are getting worried about him.

This is a great story and it is masterly told by Disney. James Baksett that plays Uncle Remus came to Disney to audition for one of the singing roles, but Walt hired him as the main character. Baskett was honoured with a special academy award for his role and that must be seen in the light of that time. He was a black actor and could never receive a real Oscar. This is also the essence of why Disney has not released it on video in America. The story is from after the slavery, but the workers at the cotton plantation are looking like slaves. But lots of people want to see this again and even Roy Disney (the nephew of Walt and former Disney CEO) has told that this is one "one of my favourite of the old Disney films".

-Lars Olav Karlsen

How do you describe a movie that:
- has ground-breaking innovations in combining live-action and animation?
- has one of the most recognizable Disney anthems, "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah?"
- introduced two of Disney's first child stars, Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten?
- Disney has abandoned and refused to release on DVD?

Whether you think it is a masterpiece or a dog, Song of the South is undeniably a film that provokes an emotional response in those who view it. I place myself firmly on the side of calling the film a masterpiece. The cinematography is great, the plot is solid, the acting is superb, and the special effects are all the more amazing when you realize this film was made nearly 60 years ago.

Some people have said that by depicting blacks in a servile roll, the movie is demeaning to all African-Americans. I am 100% positive that was never the intent. I always found the story to be uplifting -- you have three kids from various backgrounds (two are white, one is black; two are poor, one is rich; two are boys, one is a girl; one is from the city, two from the country) teaming with a gentlemen separated in time by at least two generations. There are two hearts of the story -- one is the amazing animation of Brer Rabbit, and the second is the strong bonds formed by the four human protaganists.

In short, I am now a parent of two kids, myself, and this is the sort of movie I love to share with them!

-Jim Hudson

The first time I heard of Song of the South was way back in the sixties when they played the song "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" on the radio. I knew instantly that I wanted to see that film. I was also quite fascinated by the characters Brer Bear, Brer Fox, and Brer Rabbit who frequently appeared in comic books at that time. During my childhood I came across numerous references to Song of the South, but where to find the film itself? I waited in vain for it to turn up at the local theatre. Many other Disney classics came and went, and sure enough, they kept me reasonably happy. But Song of the South never came, and that's the one I was really longing to see!

Several years later, in 1993, I finally got my chance to catch it on TV. It was everything I had hoped for, with a sweet and intelligent story, brilliant animation, and some wonderful music. Much later I learned about the controversy surrounding the film. Even with the full back-story in mind, I find it hard to believe that this delightful film has been so badly mistreated by the Disney company. I'm pretty sure that if Disney finally got around to releasing it on DVD, it would be one of the studio's all- time greatest successes!

-Anders M Olsson

DVD Details
Never officially released to home video in the United States, Song of the South continues to be a staple of bootleg DVD markets, most of them originating from laserdiscs released in Asia.
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