Cast & Crew
Happy-go-lucky Jiminy Cricket describes his philosophy of living in a fun and fancy free way to a glum doll and teddy bear, and to illustrate his point, plays a record album relating the story of Bongo the circus bear: Talented Bongo amazes audiences by performing tricks while riding a unicyle, but is treated harshly by his human owners. Bongo dreams of roaming freely through the forest, although he has lived in captivity all of his life. One day, while the circus is en route to a new location, Bongo's train car door opens and he escapes on his unicycle. Bongo is thrilled by the lovely forest and friendly animals, but later that night, is scared by alarming noises. Unsettled by the thunder and unaccustomed to hunger, Bongo is dejected about his inability to adapt to the wilderness. The next day, Bongo's spirits rise when he meets Lulubelle, a pretty girl bear who returns his affections. Their cuddling is interrupted, however, by the arrival of Lumpjaw, a ferocious bear who also loves Lulubelle. Hoping to settle the matter by choosing for herself, Lulubelle gives Bongo a hefty slap across the face, but Bongo, unaware that a slap is a sign of affection among wild bears, mistakenly assumes that Lulubelle prefers Lumpjaw. Brokenhearted, Bongo rides off on his unicycle, but deduces the truth behind Lulubelle's gesture when he watches other bears dancing and slapping each other. Determined to win back his girl friend, Bongo returns and is attacked by Lumpjaw. After a fierce struggle, Bongo and Lockjaw are trapped on a spinning log in the river, and Lockjaw is sent tumbling over a waterfall. Bongo returns to Lulubelle, and after giving her a sound slap, happily rubs noses with her.
When the record finishes, Jiminy sees a card, addressed to Luana Patten, inviting her to a party hosted by Edgar Bergen and his dummies, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. Jiminy hops over to Edgar's house and listens as Edgar tells the story of Mickey and the Beanstalk to Luana, Charlie and Mortimer: In beautiful Happy Valley, the magic of a golden, singing harp assures prosperity for everyone, but tragedy strikes when the harp mysteriously vanishes. Three poor farmers--Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy--are so hungry that they are forced to sell their beloved cow. The naïve Mickey trades the cow for some magic beans, which Donald angrily throws on the floor. After the three friends fall asleep, however, the full moon shines on the beans and an enormous stalk grows and carries Mickey and his pals into a fantastic land in the clouds. Awed when they awaken, the friends walk through the oversized landscape to a mammoth castle, where, as "three minds with but a single thought," they search for food. Their loud enjoyment of a waiting feast rouses the magic harp, who is locked inside a jewelry box. The harp warns Mickey that she was kidnapped by Willie the Giant, who can transform himself into anything, and as they talk, Willie returns to the castle. Mickey is caught by Willie but teases the gullible giant into changing himself into a bunny. Willie soon realizes that Mickey is trying to trick him, however, and puts Donald and Goofy into the box. Mickey escapes, however, and while the harp sings Willie to sleep, Mickey succeeds in getting the box's key from his pocket. Willie awakens as the three friends are running away with the harp, and after a frantic chase down the beanstalk, the pals cut down the stalk and Willie falls to his death. Joy returns to Happy Valley, but as the story ends, Mortimer cries because the childlike Willie was killed. Edgar tries to convince Mortimer that Willie is just a figment of his imagination, but the party guests are astonished when Willie removes the roof of Edgar's house and asks if they have seen a tiny mouse. After Edgar faints, Willie walks through Hollywood and stops to pick up the Brown Derby restaurant, which he wears as a hat.
The Kings Men
The Dinning Sisters
Charles P. Boyle
Robert W. Carlson Jr.
Don Da Gradi
Eva Jane Sinclair
C. O. Slyfield
Paul J. Smith
Harold J. Steck
Robert W. Youngquist
Fun and Fancy Free
Bongo was based on the 1930 Sinclair Lewis short story Little Bear Bongo, which had first appeared in Cosmopolitan. Bongo is a unicycle-riding bear cub who is forced to work in a circus while dreaming of freedom. When the opportunity to escape comes, Bongo flees to the forest where he falls in love with a female bear called Lulubelle and must fight another bear, Lumpjaw, to win her affections. Popular vocalist Dinah Shore sings "Lazy Countryside," "Too Good to Be True" and "Say It with a Slap" and acted as narrator. When the film went into production, Cliff Edwards reprised his role of Jiminy Cricket, allowing Disney to capitalize on the character's popularity thanks to his appearance in Disney's Pinocchio (1940), which had just been released.
The second part of the film is Mickey and the Beanstalk based on the old Jack and the Beanstalk tale, with Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck instead of the "Jack" character. As in the traditional story, the three use magic beans to grow a beanstalk that leads them away from their "Happy Valley" home to a castle in the sky owned by a giant named Willie. There they find a singing gold harp who has been kidnapped by the giant. The giant is eventually defeated and later reappears at the famous Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, where he places the hat-shaped restaurant on his head and goes in search of Mickey Mouse. Providing voices were Billy Gilbert, Anita Gordon and Disney staples Clarence Nash and Pinto Colvig. This would be the last time that Walt Disney himself would provide the voice of Mickey Mouse for a feature, since the demands of running an ever-expanding studio were too much to allow him the time necessary to do voiceovers. James MacDonald, who voiced Lumpjaw in Fun and Fancy Free would take over the role from Walt Disney after this film and continue to play the part for the next 30 years.
This was not the first time that Disney had produced a version of the Jack and the Beanstalk story; his Laugh-O-gram production company had animated it in 1922, and in 1933 he returned to the subject in Giantland. Mickey and the Beanstalk had been floated around the studio as a feature-length film since early in 1940 when animators T. Hee and Bill Cottrell pitched the idea to Disney, who laughed at the idea but was concerned about the potential for altering his established characters. In the end, he was convinced and production began with animation directors Ward Kimball, Les Clark, John Lounsbery, Fred Moore and Wolfgang Reitherman for about six months until the United States was attacked on December 7, 1941 by Japan. Once war was declared, the Disney studio was commandeered by the military to produce propaganda and training films, which sometimes cost the studio more to produce than the government reimbursed. Because so much manpower was being diverted to the war effort, few production materials were available due to wartime restrictions, and only a small amount of money could be diverted to entertainment. Fun and Fancy Free was put onto the back burner until late 1945 when production resumed.
When Fun and Fancy Free was released in September 1947, The New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther wrote that it was "a gay and colorful show--nothing brave and inspired but just plain happy. [...] Apparently Mr. Disney thought he had something cute in the use of Edgar Bergen to narrate his second episode. But the live-action cut-ins of Mr. Bergen relating the Beanstalk tale to Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, his two famed dummies and a little girl named Luana Patten are not inspired. The humans, as usual, look incongruous. [...]But there is one passage in it which the sophisticates should find much to their taste. That is the passage wherein the beanstalk sprouts and reaches toward the sky, writhing and gliding in the moonlight to the rhythms of a flutey symphony. There is madness and menace in this sequence, a sort of evil fascination for eye and ear, restrained by climactic comic touches. It is such stuff as this in Disney pictures that nourishes faith."
100 Greatest American and British Animated Films. (n.d.).
AFI|Catalog. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://catalog.afi.com/Search?searchField=MovieName&searchText=FUN+AND+FANCY+FREE&sortType=sortByRelevance
Fun & Fancy Free (1947). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039404/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ov_wr#writers/
Fun and Fancy Free | TV Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.tvguide.com/movies/fun-fancy-free/review/124027/
'Fun and Fancy Free,' a Disney Cartoon, With Bongo,Escaped Circus Bear, Provides Gay and Colorful Show at Globe. (1947, September 29). Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1947/09/29/archives/fun-and-fancy-free-a-disney-cartoon-with-bongoescaped-circus-bear.html
Fun and Fancy Free. (2019, April 22). Retrieved from https://www.skywaytowonderland.com/fun-and-fancy-free/
Fun and Fancy Free. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://movies.disney.com/fun-fancy-free
RKO Radio Pictures Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, 1929-1956. (n.d.).
By Lorraine LoBianco
Fun and Fancy Free
The latter segment, "Mickey and the Beanstalk" was released on television with Disney TV star Ludwig Von Drake narrating, and dubbing over many of Charlie McCarthy's jokes.
The Bongo story was inspired by a story appearing in the magazine Reader's Digest.
Both segments were being produced independently as full length features, but when wartime shortages lost the studio resources, time and animators (who were drafted), Disney made the decision to combine the two.
A scene with Mickey selling the cow to the queen of Happy Valley (played by Minnie Mouse) was storyboarded, but never animated.
Billy Gilbert voiced Willie the Giant. He was a well known radio comic whose best gag was a comic sneeze he did. He also voiced Sneezy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
This was the last time that Disney, Walt did the voice of Mickey Mouse.
According to the October 1947 New Yorker review of this film, Sinclair Lewis "adapted" his short story "Bongo" from an unspecified work by Heinrich Heine. According to April and August 1941 Hollywood Reporter news items, Disney originally intended to produce "Bongo" and "Mickey and the Beanstalk" as separate, feature-length cartoons. The "Mickey Mouse feature" was called Legend of Happy Valley by a August 15, 1941 Daily Variety item. The Daily Variety item stated that Disney had signed Lee Sweetland, "a baritone for NBC," to do narration for the picture, but he did not contribute to the completed picture. A "behind-the scenes" documentary about the picture, which accompanied its 1997 video release, asserted that originally, the studio contemplated using some of the settings and supporting characters from its 1941 film Dumbo for the "Bongo" segment. The plan was dropped, however, and no characters from Dumbo appear in the completed picture. The documentary also reveals that when story development on "Mickey and the Beanstalk" began in May 1940, the inclusion of "J. Worthington Foulfellow" and "Gideon" from Pinocchio was considered, as well as the "casting" of "Minnie Mouse" as a queen who induces "Mickey" to trade his cow for the magic beans. The three characters do not appear in the completed segment, however.
A August 21, 1941 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that "union turmoil" was threatening to "tie up" production on the two features as well as a number of other planned projects. [For more information on the 1941 Screen Cartoon Guild strike at the Disney Studio, please see the entry below for The Reluctant Dragon.] Then, on May 15, 1942, Hollywood Reporter announced that the Disney Studio would halt production on all features for the duration of the war, during which it would produce only theatrical shorts and films for the U.S. government and military. A May 19, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that "Bongo" was specifically delayed by work on "The New Spirit," a short that was made for the Treasury Department.
Near the end of the war, production plans were resumed, and although May 1946 Hollywood Reporter news items still referred to Mickey and the Beanstalk as a full-length feature, the studio had decided to produce the subjects as shorts and join them in one feature-length film. Many modern sources have noted that, due to various economic factors caused by the war, the studio relied on "package features," comprised of a number of different shorts, in order to boost income. [For more information on the Disney "package features," please see the entry below for Make Mine Music.] A October 24, 1945 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that narrator Dinah Shore would be appearing "before the camera" as well as offscreen, but in the finished film, she does not appear onscreen, except in a photograph on the cover of the "Bongo" record album.
According to modern sources, "Jiminy Cricket's" opening song, "I'm a Happy-Go-Lucky Fellow," was originally recorded for the 1939 Disney feature Pinocchio but not used. Jiminy, who made his debut in Pinocchio, has not appeared in any other feature-length cartoons since Fun & Fancy Free, although he was the animated "host" of many Disney television programs. The picture also marked the feature debut of animated shorts star Goofy. Modern sources add James Macdonald (Voices of Lumpjaw and Mickey Mouse) to the cast, and note that the picture marked the first time that Macdonald supplied Mickey's voice. Walt Disney, who previously had provided Mickey's voice, did some work on the "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segment in 1941, but was too busy to complete the task and so hired Macdonald, who went on to play Mickey again numerous times. Contemporary publicity materials for the picture credit only Disney as Mickey's voice, however.
According to studio press materials, three record albums were to be made to publicize the picture. The first, telling the story of "Bongo," would feature narration by Shore, while the second record, on which Johnny Mercer was to supply the narration, told the tale of "Mickey and the Beanstalk." The third album was to be made up solely of the musical numbers. Contemporary news items note that the release of the film was also publicized with several "birthday parties" for Mickey Mouse, who was "celebrating" his twentieth anniversary. One party, held at the Disney Studio in Burbank, CA in mid-October 1947, was attended by Edgar Bergen's young daughter Candice, as well as other children of celebrities, who watched a screening of the film.
The "Bongo" and "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segments have been reissued as separate shorts, and in the 1960s, the scenes with Edgar Bergen were replaced by animation of "Ludwig Von Drake" for the television showing of the "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segment on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. Although the full-length picture has not been theatrically re-released, as many of the other Disney pictures have been, it has been released on home video twice.
Among the many filmed versions of the "Jack and the Beanstalk" fairy tale were two shorts made by Disney. The first, a silent, was made in 1922 by Disney's Laugh-O-gram company in Kansas City. The second, entitled "Giantland," starred Mickey Mouse as "Jack" and was released in 1933. Other presentations of the fairy tale, all entitled Jack and the Beanstalk, include the 1917 Fox Film Corp. live-action feature, directed by C. M. Franklin and S. A. Franklin and starring Francis Carpenter (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.2253); a 1952 Warner Bros. feature starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello and directed by Jean Yarbrough; and an early 1980s, one-hour entry in Shelley Duvall's television series Faerie Tale Theater.
Released in United States Fall September 27, 1947
Re-released in United States on Video July 15, 1997
Original fully restored for video release.
Combines live action and animation.
Released in United States Fall September 27, 1947
Re-released in United States on Video July 15, 1997