Disney at the Movies – Day 4


Dumbo Day 4

photo by Martin Blanco

                                               Disney at the Movies – Day 4

  1. Cartoon Shorts    Elmer Elephant and Mickey’s Circus
  2. Main Feature      Dumbo
  3. Live Action          Toby Tyler

Today we leave the concert hall behind to join the circus as our main feature is Dumbo.  While Dumbo did not advance cinematic art, and was far less visually sumptuous than its predecessors, it remains a beloved favorite because of its appealing story and emotional potency.  The circus imagery is delightful and Ward Kimball’s animation of Casey Junior, the locomotive that pulls the circus train, foreshadows the strong influence that steam locomotives would have on the aesthetics of the Walt Disney Company. Dumbo premiered in the fall of 1941 and was supposed to be featured on the cover of Time magazine in December, but this was sidelined for a portrait of Admiral Yamamoto in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Nevertheless, the movie was a big hit for Disney then and has lost none of its appeal in nearly 80 years.

Dumbo pairs well with Elmer Elephant.  This 1936 Silly Symphony is strikingly similar to Dumbo and one wonders if this sweet cartoon inspired Disney to pursue the Dumbo project.  Elmer, like Dumbo, is a mute elephant who faces mockery and rejection because of his physical appearance, Dumbo for his enormous ears and Elmer for his trunk. In the end, their physical features that provoked so much derision are the very things that make them heroes.

Mickey’s Circus is also from 1936.  Mickey Mouse is the ringmaster of a traveling circus.  The cartoon features ringmaster Mickey Mouse presenting a free show for dozens of orphan mice, all of whom look like young Mickey (in an adorable baby Yoda way).  Most of the cartoon features the antics of Donald Duck and a quartet of seals, as well as some naughty hijinks perpetrated by the orphans (as orphans are wont to do).

The live action feature is Toby Tyler (1960).  The time is the turn of the century. Toby is an orphan raised by a harsh aunt and uncle.  Toby literally runs away from home to join a circus.  As tantalizing as the circus seems, circus life is rife with exploitation, and there is as much sorrow and cruelty as there is joy.  Toby makes friends and enemies, and there’s just enough goodness in humanity for Toby to find his way.  This is an excellent companion to Dumbo, and if you are missing the Magic Kingdom, the circus parade at the beginning of the film will transport you to Main Street USA. Toby Tyler isn’t currently on Disney+, but it can be rented from Amazon Prime.

The kettle corn is popped, and we are ready to embark on Day 4 of Disney at the Movies.  Hope you enjoy this!

#dumbo #tobytyler # #sillysymphony #disneymovienight #mickeymouse


Disney A to Z The Official Encyclopedia Fourth Edition Dave Smith c. 2015 Disney Editions

The Disney Films Leonard Maltin c. 1978 Popular Library

c. Martin Blanco, Kathryn Blanco, and Disney at Home April 29, 2020

Toby Tyler Day 4

TobyTyler2 Day 4

This illustration from the opening credits in TOBY TYLER is evocative of the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA. photo by Martin Blanco


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