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Walt Disney Animation Collection DVDs:
Wave 1: Volume 1: Mickey and the Beanstalk • Volume 2: Three Little Pigs • Volume 3: The Prince and the Pauper
Wave 2: Volume 4: The Tortoise and the Hare • Volume 5: The Wind in the Willows • Volume 6: The Reluctant Dragon

Walt Disney Animation Collection: Classic Short Films - Volume 3: The Prince & the Pauper DVD Review

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Volume 3: The Prince & the Pauper

DVD Details

Running Time: 56 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio), Dolby Surround/Mono 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned

DVD Release Date: April 7, 2009
Originally Released Between 1933 and 1990
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
White Keepcase with Side Snaps in Reflective, Embossed Cardboard Slipcover

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By Kelvin Cedeno

Disney has a vast film library. From animated features and shorts to live-action fare, there is a diverse filmography under the studio's belt. Unfortunately, some of those entries are a hard sell, and since Disney is a business, they have to milk their more notable titles to maximize profit.
Sitting somewhere in the middle between those two categories are the animated short subjects. They are neither prestigious enough to only be released exclusively every several years like the Platinum Editions nor obscure enough to never see the light of day like most TV movies. Instead, Disney finds new ways to package and repackage them as evergreens.

The Funny Factory and Classic Cartoon Favorites collections were aimed at the casual buyer who may not opt for the Walt Disney Treasures line. The first two faded relatively quickly while the third simply remains hard to find. Disney tries again with their new Walt Disney Animation Collection: Classic Short Films series of DVDs. The titling suggests that perhaps full-length features may be come under this banner, hence the need for a subtitle. For the time being, though, the brand is only being used on shorts.

The cast of Disney's "The Prince and the Pauper" celebrates the crowning of the new, pint-sized King of England. Old King Cole's palace opens up as a pop-up book in Storybookland.

It's difficult to really pinpoint who this collection is aimed at. The banner, design, and included lithograph give the impression that it's for older fans, but the actual disc presentation (discussed below) suggests otherwise. It's hard to see this going much farther than the previous DVD lines seeing as there are only a handful of shorts that the general public would even know about, let alone be interested in buying. If anything, this collection seems like filler. With so much of their focus on selling Blu-ray lately, Disney's DVD catalogue releases have been dwindling. This seems like an answer to that problem, but most of the people who've been noticing would surely prefer first-time releases of rarer content over shorts that have seen the digital medium as many as three times.

Volume 3: The Prince & the Pauper puts the 1990 Mickey Mouse featurette in the foreground.
The Prince and the Pauper movie poster The Prince and the Pauper video poster
Ye Olden Days poster Knight for a Day poster
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classic Disney cartoon short posters
The Disney version of Mark Twain's classic novel is the highlight for a reason: it's the strongest and most substantial of the lineup. Twain purists may balk at the adaptation, but then they'd miss the point. It's a loose, comical retelling, not a direct translation. Even in that vein, the short is darker and more dramatic than most of Mickey's films. Deftly mixing humor, drama, and action, it entertains and is one of the stronger shorts the studio has ever put out.

This cartoon is accompanied by four shorter and older films, all of which carry a sort of Medieval theme. A solid piece like Pauper is hard to follow, but there are still charms to be found in its company: The Pied Piper, Old King Cole, Ye Olden Days, and A Knight for a Day. Funnily enough, the first three all happen to have been originally released in 1933 and therefore have a similar look and feel. Ye Olden Days is the best of that trio not because it stars Mickey Mouse, but because it offers more of a story and less the musical revue of the others. Still, A Knight for a Day, released 13 years later, ends up being even better. By the 1940s, the Disney animators had honed their craft and were obviously more comfortable with their work. The Goofy-filled short has sharper gags that fit better with Prince and the Pauper's fast-paced style than the more whimsical tone of the '33 shorts.

The Pied Piper leads the hordes of rats out the gates of Hamelin. Mickey and Minnie cheerfully climb down the tower window with an impressive array of bed sheets in "Ye Olden Days."

"The Prince and the Pauper" (1990) (25:31)
As the king of England lies on his deathbed, his captain of the guards takes full advantage of the townspeople. Oblivious to this is the prince, who's constantly locked away in the palace to attend to royal duties. Things change, though, when a peasant named Mickey catches his eye, a peasant who happens to look exactly like the prince. The two switch places in an effort to spice up their lives, but each one finds that grass on the other side isn't quite as green as anticipated.

"The Pied Piper" (1933) (7:36)
Rodents run rampant throughout a small kingdom, forcing the king to seek help from outside. A piper with the ability to lure the creatures away answers the call.

"Old King Cole" (1933) (7:32)
A merry king invites all the citizens of Storybookland to festivities at his palace,
and each invited guest performs a number based on his respective nursery rhyme.

"Ye Olden Days" (1933) (8:25)
When a princess refuses to give her hand in marriage to a rather goofy prince, she's locked away in a tower. It's up to a wandering minstrel to rescue her and prove his own worth.

"A Knight for a Day" (1946) (7:06)
A squire named Cedric (Goofy) takes the place of the knight he mistakenly knocked out. Terribly out of place at the arena, he finds all the inspiration he needs in the potential hand of the princess Esmeralda.


All the films on this disc are presented in the 1.33:1 fullscreen aspect ratio. That may seem appropriate at first given the subject matter at hand, but there's one glaring exception. Attached to The Rescuers Down Under in 1990, The Prince and the Pauper was originally exhibited in 1.85:1 widescreen. Like Down Under, Mickey's second color Walt Disney Treasures tin presented it on DVD windowboxed to 1.66:1, then the choice animation ratio at the studio. That makes this a pan and a scan job, as there's no sign of excessive vertical space that would be noticed an open matte presentation.

Such a practice is inexcusable, and one would think Disney would know better in this day and age. No animation buff who wishes to own this short on DVD would want it with side information missing, which once again raises the question of who exactly is this collection aimed at. Disney usually aims full screen presentations at children, and judging by the presentation of both the main attraction here as well as the menus and sneak peeks (all 4x3), that seems to be the case here. No matter what the reason, the decision is unfortunate.

As for the visual quality of the shorts, they're quite the mixed bag. Despite the cropping, The Prince and the Pauper looks quite good -- nicely sharp, colorful, and with only a thin level of grain that doesn't distract. The others don't fare so well, though. Considering three of the shorts are over 75 years old, some leeway is to be given, but even so, the images contain quite a few print flaws such as hairs and speckles. Colors are generally decent but occasionally blow out in The Pied Piper and Old King Cole, and look muddy in A Knight for a Day. All four of the shorter shorts also suffer from softness and interlacing issues. Without having the Walt Disney Treasures DVDs on hand, it's difficult to compare the transfers, but given that series' quest for quality, it's reasonable to assume these aren't the extensive restorations done for that collection.

Cedric's opponent in the duel of "A Knight for a Day" looks vaguely familiar. (It's also Goofy.) Mickey the static pauper showcases the fun design for the main menu.

There's less to say about the audio. The Dolby surround track for The Prince and the Pauper is more active than expected. Dialogue is clear, and the score and effects are given nice scope. The rest of the shorts are presented in their original mono and sound significantly more muffled. It's difficult to truly understand what's being said and sung in the '30s shorts, though this may be due more to the source material than the disc itself. A Knight for a Day sits somewhere in the middle. It's rather hollow sounding, but more intelligible than the older 'toons.


The disc has no video supplements, instead opting for a sole physical one: a 7 1/8" by 4 3/8" litho print. It depicts the iconic scene where Mickey and the prince first meet each other in The Prince and the Pauper The litho baffles more than anything since it once again blurs the demographic line. Those truly interested in an art card should be appalled at the feature presentation's cropping. Those who wouldn't care about the video presentation likewise may not care for the included gift.

Via Disney's FastPlay, the disc opens with promos for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Princess and the Frog, Up Bedtime Stories, and Disney Movie Rewards. After the shorts play consecutively, more ads appear for My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Big Splash, Monsters, Inc. on Blu-ray, The Black Cauldron: Special Edition, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, and Disney Parks. All of these can be accessed via the Sneak Peeks menu.

The colorful, static menus feel at odds with the more mature packaging. All feature clipart, bright geometric designs, and a looped score excerpt from The Prince and the Pauper.

The gray, artwork-barren disc comes housed in a white Amaray case with side snaps. This in turn comes in a silvery embossed slipcover. Inside is a Disney Movie Rewards code as well as the aforementioned lithograph.

Mickey, Goofy, and Pluto still find something to celebrate despite their poverty in "The Prince and the Pauper." Old King Cole proves he’s a merry old soul, indeed.


This third volume of the Walt Disney Animation Collection is, quite frankly, disappointing. The actual programming entertains, especially the title cartoon, but the disc itself falls short of Disney's standards. With half the content in pan and scan and the other half unrestored, there's little reason for anyone to purchase this. Some families may not mind, and if that's the case, then there's no stopping them from using this as a virtual babysitter. But those who really care about the content are better off tracking down the Walt Disney Treasures volumes containing these shorts.

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Reviewed April 7, 2009.