Now that Dumbo is coming back into our lives, nostalgic folks may seek out the original for a family movie night, or just to relive the nostalgia of one of Disney's most magical tales. While the film itself is interesting, however, there's a lot about it in general that make it so much more than an animated movie. Check out some of these jumbo Dumbo facts below, which will certainly give you a greater appreciation for this Walt Disney classic.
Dumbo Is Only 64 Minutes Long
The first thing those who jump back into Dumbo might notice is that the ride is over almost as soon as it begins. Hell, it's shorter than a majority of episodes in Season 8 of Game of Thrones, and one of the shortest feature length films in the Disney catalog. One can hunker down on the couch to watch this classic, and not even need to get up for a bathroom break!
For the record, this runtime wasn't a sign of the times. RKO Pictures initially balked when Disney presented Dumbo to it, and requested the film either be cut down to short-form, scenes be added to make it longer, or it be allowed to release it as a B-movie. Disney refused all three options, as it was cutting serious corners at the time, and RKO eventually relented and allowed it to run as is.
Dumbo Basically Saved Disney
Disney had a great start with its animated films, but it only took a few failures to jeopardize the company's future. Pinocchio and Fantasia both failed at the box office, and European film distribution was impossible at the time due to World War II. Bottom line, Disney needed a hit, and it needed to spend as little money as possible to ensure its American audience showed up for the movie.
Dumbo did that, and in addition to doubling its modest budget of $950,000 (one-third of Pinocchio's budget), it managed to stand out in a good way. Its low-budget style resonated with audiences, and it has continued to do so throughout the years. The movie got some re-releases in theaters not long after the war, and two additional releases in the 70s. I guess non-verbal baby elephants can be a hit no matter the decade?
Dumbo Was Nearly Time's "Mammal Of The Year"
Response to Dumbo was so positive in America, that Time Magazine wanted to feature the character on its cover. Dumbo was to be it's "Mammal of the Year" a title that was meant to be a play on its iconic "Man of the Year" award. Unfortunately, a bigger news item bumped the character off the cover, as Time thought it may be more prudent to cover the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Obviously, Time made the right call in covering an event that would change the world as we know it. Plus, Dumbo still got an article in that issue, although it wasn't the cover story that was originally planned. Still, how many other movies can say it took one of the biggest wars in world history to knock it out of the news cycle?
There Was Once A Dumbo II In Development
This fact isn't too hard to believe, as it seems like every Disney animated feature seems to get a sequel whether it's warranted or not (albeit it's been a history of almost exclusively home video releases). This was going to happen with Dumbo, as Disney had concocted a story that took place not long after the first film in which the elephant, Timothy Q. Mouse and other animals were separated from the circus.
Among other things, the sequel would've explained some details on Dumbo's father, Mr. Jumbo. A behind-the-scenes trailer for the sequel was packaged with the 2001 DVD release to coincide with the movie's 60th anniversary, but the move was ultimately cancelled by John Lasseter when he took control of the company. The movie will likely never see the light of day, but if the live-action adaptation is a hit, perhaps elements from Dumbo II could appear in a sequel to that?
It Was The First Disney Movie For Sterling Holloway
Dumbo was the first Disney voice acting role for actor Sterling Holloway, who audiences hear as the Stork that delivers baby Dumbo to Mrs. Jumbo. For those who don't recognize the name, Holloway would go on to do many voices for the House of Mouse, including another iconic animal in the Disney family. Holloway was the original voice of Winnie The Pooh, and voiced the character from its beginning all the way up until 1982.
Beyond Pooh, Disney lovers can also hear Sterling Holloway voice the adult flower in Bambi, The Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland, and Kaa The Snake in The Jungle Book. Even if they didn't know the name, most probably knew that based on Sterling Holloway's distinctive voice, which is rather easy to pick out given the popularity of Pooh. Had he never gotten his role in Dumbo, who knows how the rest of his career would've went.
Timothy's Encouragement Of Dumbo Is Low Key Shade Towards Clark Gable
When one talks about the golden age of Hollywood, it's only a matter of time before Clark Gable comes up. He was the actor of the era, and still remains relevant today primarily thanks to his iconic role in Gone With The Wind. Despite that, audiences of today may overlook a statement made by Timothy E. Mouse that viewers at the time almost immediately attributed to the actor.
In one particular scene, which also appeared in the Dumbo trailer, Timothy informs Dumbo that his big ears aren't bad. In fact, he states "lots of people with big ears are famous," which audiences at the time took as a reference to Gable's large ears. It's a little mean spirited, but the movie came out during the prime of Gable's success, and there's no evidence he took particular offense to it. One could assume, frankly, he didn't give a damn.
"Look Out For Mister Stork" References A Famous Family
Here's another reference that, while relevant for viewers in the 40s, may not ring a bell to anyone in 2019. "Look Out For Mister Stork" references the classic nursery rhyme The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe, but also "those quintuplets" like any of us are supposed to know what that means today. As mentioned, folks back then knew the reference was made to the Dionne quintuplets of Ontario.
So, why did these five kids get a shout out in Dumbo? Well, they were famous because they were the first set of five kids to survive their infancy. It's impressive given the mortality rate of children at the time, and even more impressive when one reads about how the doctor who delivered them managed to keep them all alive. Suffice to say giving a newborn corn syrup with two drops of rum wouldn't have a doctor's recommendation these days.
As the new Dumbo makes its run in theaters, be sure to stick with CinemaBlend for updates on its performance at the box office and other news on the Disney front. For those unsure of whether or not they'll be going to check out the live-action adaptation, see what those who saw the film early are saying.
Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.
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