September 27, 1947 – The Ninth Animated Feature Film, Fun and Fancy Free, is Released to Theaters
“So if you’d really like to be happy-go-lucky just like me, drown your frowns my friend and you will see, you’ll see, that you’ll be full of fun and fancy-free.”
On September 27, 1947, the ninth animated feature film, Fun and Fancy Free, was released to theaters. It was the second package film released by Disney, comprised of two stories: Bongo (written originally by Sinclair Lewis), and Mickey and the Beanstalk, a retelling of the classic tale Jack and the Beanstalk. The two were originally meant to be full-length features of their own. Although Mickey was in the feature film Fantasia, this was the first time Goofy and Donald were also used to carry a feature film. As the story was tightened, many scenes were dropped, including the scene where Mickey receives the magic beans for his cow from none other than Minnie Mouse, playing the queen. The two stories were stopped in development when the country entered World War II. The live action segments were directed by William Morgan, with the animation sequences directed by Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts, and Hamilton Luske. The film included the talents of Anita Gordon, Cliff Edwards, Billy Gilbert, The Kings Men, the Dinning Sisters, and the Starlighters, as well as Edgar Bergen (ventriloquist for Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd) and Luana Patten. This film also marks the last time Walt Disney voiced the character of Mickey Mouse, as he would have sound effects man Jimmy MacDonald take over the role.
The movie begins with the voice of Jiminy Cricket ringing out, singing about being happy-go-lucky, and begins to sing and dance around a library, expressing his sadness about the whole world worrying about so many things. “But why get so excited,” he asks. “What’s going to be is going to be.” Unfortunately, he runs into a cat that chases him out of the library. He finds himself in a girl’s room, coming across what he calls a “deadpan doll and a droopy bear.” To cheer them up, he puts on a record about the story of Bongo, a musical story sung by Dinah Shore.
Bongo is a circus bear: “he was born in the circus, grew up in the circus; in fact, Bongo was the star of the circus.” Bongo was seen as being able to do it all, with the circus tent packed with fans that wanted to see him perform the greatest of stunts. But although Bongo appeared thrilled with what he was doing, he was a prisoner of the circus, kept in a cage. He spent his nights dreaming of a place where he was free from the circus life. One fateful day, he decides to answer the call of the wild, and escapes from the circus train. Finally free, he explores the woods where he landed, smelling the flowers and leaping over tree roots. Unfortunately, Bongo doesn’t know how to survive in the woods, but he’s still elated to be out in nature. He soon makes friends with the animals of the forest, and they walk around, exploring their surroundings.
Unfortunately, life in the woods is not as pleasant as Bongo thought, as at first he is unable to get to sleep, then finds himself caught in a storm. He becomes discouraged that his dream life wasn’t the way he thought it would be, and even more discouraged that he can’t even catch food like a real bear would. As he tries to catch a fish, he hears the giggle of a young female bear named Lulubelle, and begins to follow her as she flirts with him. The two quickly fall in love, but there is one problem: Lumpjaw, the roughest, toughest, meanest bear in the woods, who wants Lulubelle all to himself. After some mixup, Lulubelle ends up in Lumpjaw’s arms, with Bongo being left heartbroken, as he didn’t understand the way of bears (bears express their love by slapping). Lulubelle sneaks away from the bears to find Bongo, and a fight ensues between Bongo and Lumpjaw, with Bongo using his circus skills to win. Lulubelle and Bongo live happily ever after in love.
After the story ends, Jiminy comes across a party invitation for Luana Patten at Edgar Bergen’s house across the way, and decides to attend himself. Bergen is entertaining Luana, Mortimer Snerd, and Charlie McCarthy, and decides to tell the group a story: Mickey and the Beanstalk. He has Luana create a picture in his mind of Happy Valley, where Mickey, Goofy, and Donald live. Happy Valley was a prosperous place, with a magic singing harp residing in its castle, casting a spell of joy over the entire valley. One day, a mysterious shadow appears in Happy Valley, and steals the harp from the castle. Once the harp is stolen, the valley loses its joy and prosperity. The audience is taken inside the cottage of Mickey, Goofy, and Donald, sharing a pitiful meal. Unable to take it anymore, Donald loses his cool, going mad with hunger and desperation. He takes the axe from the wall and decides to kill their beloved cow.
The next day, Mickey decides to take their cow to market, with Goofy and Donald hopeful that they will be able to afford food. When Mickey comes home, however, he informs them that he sold the cow for magic beans. Donald loses his cool again, throwing the beans away. Once the moon hits the spot where the beans fell, however, a giant beanstalk begins to grow, destroying their house in the process and sending the trio sky high. When morning comes, the three are amazed to see a castle in the sky, and decide to explore. After surviving an attack a giant dragonfly, the three reach the castle steps and climb inside. They discover that the banquet table is covered in food, and don’t hesitate to eat the best meal they’ve had in ages. They also discover the harp being held hostage in a treasure box nearby, and she warns them about the giant, as he has the ability to turn himself into anything he wishes.
Suddenly, the giant appears, singing a simple song about himself and adding the words, “Fe Fi Fo Fum.” He smells the scent of the trio and searches for them, but gets distracted by the food on the table and begins to eat. He catches Mickey, but with Mickey’s quick thinking, he’s able to escape, tricking the giant into changing into a fly. However, the giant would rather change into a pink bunny rabbit, and when he spies the trio with a flyswatter, he catches them and throws them into the treasure box, keeping the harp out for her to sing him to sleep. With the harp’s help, Mickey is able to free his friends and escape with the harp. The giant wakes up as they begin their escape and chases after the three. When the trio makes it to the bottom of the beanstalk, they grab a saw and begin to chop the beanstalk down, sending the giant tumbling down to earth. Happy Valley is returned to its peaceful and prosperous state.
As Bergen finishes telling the story, he notices that Mortimer begins to cry over the death of the giant. Bergen tries to explain that the giant never existed, and is succeeding until the roof of his house lifts, and the giant appears, asking the group if they’ve seen a mouse. Bergen faints, and the giant leaves, exploring Hollywood for signs of Mickey (and taking the Brown Derby restaurant with him as a new hat).