Quite simply, one of the best animated films of all time. Based on the 1883 children's tale by Italian writer Carlo Collodi, PINOCCHIO is looser than SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS in its story telling, but its episodic nature works because each episode is so memorable and filled with such unforgettable characters. The story of a marionette come to life and given the promise of someday becoming a "real boy", PINOCCHIO may well have the most indelible cast of players in the entire Disney canon. Just look at this partial list: Jiminy Cricket, Gepetto, Honest John, Stromboli, Figaro the Cat, The Blue Fairy, Lampwick, Monstro the Whale... the stuff of cartoon legend. Unlike today, when most animated films are voiced by established stars (a tradition that started with Disney's own THE JUNGLE BOOK), the actors chosen for PINOCCHIO are virtually nameless. The only true star was singer Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards, as Jiminy Cricket, and not even he is credited. Yet this lost practice made it easier for audiences to get lost in an animated world. However much I admire films like TOY STORY, FINDING NEMO and CARS, I can never forget that I am listening to stars like Tom Hanks, Ellen Degeneres, Albert Brooks and Paul Newman.
As only the third American animated feature ever made - The Fleischer Brothers' GULLIVER'S TRAVELS followed Disney's own SNOW WHITE - PINOCCHIO was a milestone in movie-making. Even today, almost all the highlights hold their power over viewers. Lampwick's transformation from bad boy to donkey, shown only in shadow, ranks amongst the most frightening sequences in all of Disney, and Monstro the Whale was surely one of the inspirations for the design of the monster in ALIEN. Gepetto, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket are still as lovable today as they were in 1940. The film is one of those that, like THE WIZARD OF OZ, became so much a part of our culture so that even those who haven't seen it have still felt its effects. Always let a conscience be your guide. If you lie, your nose will grow. I've got no strings on me. When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true. Even the phrase "Jiminy Cricket", a substitute for using "Jesus Christ" as an expression of surprise (Snow White used it as such) might have faded away without this film.
Beautifully animated (I could spend hours just watching Figaro the Cat) and featuring several catchy tunes including the gorgeous "When You Wish Upon a Star" (sung by Edwards), PINOCCHIO quickly became the standard by which all other animated features, including Disney's, would be judged. - JB
A SHOUT OUT BY HARE MAIL
In the 1946 Warner Brothers Bugs Bunny cartoon Acrobatty Bunny, Bugs, looking into a lion's huge toothy mouth, calls out "Pinocchio!", a reference to Gepetto's calling out Pinocchio's name in the streets of his village, and to the climax of the film, in which Geppetto and Pinocchio wind up in the belly of the toothy Monstro the Whale.