Song of the South (1946)
Article 5694 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Harve Foster and Wilfred Jackson
Featuring Ruth Warrick, Bobby Driscoll, James Baskett
What it is: Live action / animation combo
A young boy is left at his grandmother’s plantation and separated from his father. He befriends the story-telling Uncle Remus and deals with his personal problems.
Due to a certain degree of racial controversy about this movie, Disney has never officially released it on home video in the states. I’m not going to delve into the reasons for this other than to say that I’ve seen far more offensive movies that are available. What I will say is that I wasn’t sure I was going to review the movie as I was watching it. Yes, it has animated segments with talking animals, but since that’s not sufficient content for me in reviewing cartoons, I wasn’t sure I was going to make an exception here. It wasn’t until the closing moments of the movie that it really turns into a fantasy when the real world and the cartoon world merge, so I decided to cover it.
As for the movie itself, I like the animated sequences better than I like the live-action story, which comes across a little bit too mechanical on tugging on the heartstrings. However, it’s well acted, and I quite like James Baskett’s performance as Uncle Remus; he apparently showed up to audition for the voice of a butterfly. I do wonder how the movie would have turned out if the movie had been a fully animated set of Uncle Remus’s tales, but I suspect budgetary concerns might have prevented that. All in all, it’s a good Disney feature, though I wouldn’t rank it with their greatest work.