Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.

As I was traversing Wikipedia as one does I happened to stumble across a rather interesting page about the unproductive films from the Disney headquarters. As such here are my picks for not only the films that should have been made, but the films that should never see the light of day at all.

Best

6)Fantasia III/Musicana: Put this down to wishful thinking, but I for one would love to see a third Fantasia film. What’s really depressing is we almost got Fantasia 2.0 with some great segment ideas: “Some segments of the planned film were to be titled “Finlandia”, involving a fight between the Ice God and Sun Goddess; an African segment about a curious monkey and a Rain God, including many hippos, lions and elephants; “The Emperor’s Nightingale”, based on the Andersen story, which would have starred Mickey Mouse as the keeper of the nightingale; a southern jazz story titled “By the Bayou”, which included many frogs, including caricatures of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong; a segment set in the Andes with a beautiful girl/bird; and a version of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, featuring tropical birds.” It’s a shame they never made this (instead thinking that The Black Cauldron of all things was a worthy successor to this) because this would have been one pretty awesome movie.

5)Who Discovered Roger Rabbit/Where is Roger Rabbit?: The former is a prequel set during the Second World War, the latter a direct sequel. And whilst Spielberg wasn’t comfortable making fun of the Nazi’s after making Schneider’s List I for one would have loved to see more of Roger Rabbit. I’ve always regarded him as the forgotten Disney character, the one that was marketed up a storm but then quickly forgotten about later on. It’s a shame since he’s really due to a comeback. Maybe one day he’ll grace the big screen again.

4)The Fool’s Errand: “The story is said to centre on a court jester who goes on a mythical journey to return peace to his kingdom.” Now considering this was made during the time when Disney was making notorious stinkers this would have probably been bad… or it’d have been as funny as The Emperor’s New Groove. Honestly it’s too hard to tell how this would have turned out, but I love the idea of the comic relief character being put centre-stage. Perhaps if they fleshed him out a bit, given him more of a backstory, this could have worked. It’d be better then Home on the Range at any rate.

3)Homer’s Odyssey: Okay why wouldn’t this be an awesome movie on par with the likes of Aladdin or Hercules? One of those great early epics that Disney would make extra spectacular. Again it’s one of those properties that seem obvious to adapt when you say it out-loud, but ironically enough it was beating by Aladdin. Still I don’t think they should give up on this idea just yet.

2)Don Quixote: 4 attempts have been attempted in making this film, from all the way in 1941 to 2001. And it is one of history’s first ever novels. But despite it’s history and its fame it’s never managed to have a good film (it almost drove Terry Gilliam to madness trying to make it) and tends to be oft forgotten about. Perhaps it’s because Don Quixote goes mad and it may be difficult to make it funny, but I think Disney could pull it off quite well.

1)The Emperor’s Nightingale: Another film that’s had four attempts, one of which was even going to star Mickey Mouse. But it’s the 1960 version I’m most upset that we didn’t get for one simple reason: “This proposed film would have used paper cut-out animation to tell the traditional tale, but with a much finer and more delicate Asian style than that earlier short.” It’s always a great shame that we are robbed of such a visually beautiful film such as this. Of course using paper cut-out animation would have taken forever, but I think in the age of modern technology this style could be achieved. If nothing else it’d make a break from the same looking animation we already have.

Worst

6)Pinocchio II: Yes this list is mostly going to be made up of those awful direct-to-video proposed sequels Disney was pumping out (and thankfully stopped) starting with this one. Is there anywhere to really take the Pinocchio story? He learnt his lesson, he’s a real boy, at this point you’d be repeating stuff we already know. Unless of course it was taking stuff from the book, in which case it’d be even more traumatizing.

5)Mickey Columbus: A retelling of the first discovers of America starring Mickey, Donald and Goofy. This one has potential, but quickly runs into the unfortunate implications of what to cast the Native Americans as. Add to that the history that comes after it… Yeah better to leave it just as being Pocahontas.

4)The Aristocats II: “The story was to have concerned Marie, Duchess’s daughter, who becomes smitten by another kitten aboard a luxury cruise ship. However, she and her family must soon take on a jewel thief on the open seas.” Do I even need to explain why this is a bad idea? Seriously not only is it almost like the exact same plot as the first film you just know the villain would be more pathetic then Edgar (and that’s saying something) and the story would be tripe. Seriously why would we need another one of these?

3)Chicken Little: The Ugly Duckling Story: This movie was critically panned, what made them think they should make a sequel out of it? All we know is that it would have involved Abby and would no doubt be a plot about her coming to terms of herself, which would have been great… except the original film is so bad that it destroyed any chance Disney had at taking on Pixar. Did they really think there was a market for films that had failed?

2)Dumbo II: Dumbo is, in short, a perfect movie. It doesn’t have anything out of place, doesn’t have a scene wasted, it’s a practically perfect film. It’s also a film that doesn’t need to be sequelised because it would destroy the innocence and the uniqueness of the original. I mean come on Disney, what is with you and making sequels to your beloved movies? Are you that desperate for money? Is nothing sacred? Man the company sure went down hill after Walt died…

1)Bambi’s Children: “A sequel to the original Bambi film, dealing with Bambi’s adult life.” You see what I mean? Taking a beloved classic and milking it for all its worth! Squeezing it dry till every last bit of good was taken out of it! So when did they plan to make this, hmm? 2003? 2004?

… 1943? Seriously, they were planning to make a sequel to Bambi (based on the second book in the series) in 1943. Walt Disney was all but ready to make sequels to commercialise on the success of earlier beloved films.

… Huh. Sorry modern Disney, I didn’t know you were just taking inspiration from the man that started it all.

On the Fence

These are the films that I’m neither glad didn’t get made nor upset that they didn’t. I’m not sure how these would have turned out, or how much Disney would have changed because of it. So here are 6 films I’m on the fence about.

6)The Hound of Florence/Inspector Bones: “Based on novel by Felix Salten about a detective who turns into a dog. The dog detective in “Inspector Bones” was a direct parody of Basil Rathbone‘s role in the Sherlock Holmes films, which were very popular in the 1940s. Inspector Bones and Dr. Beagle are pitted against either Professor Mongrel (“The Mad Dog of London”) or Sir Cyril Sealyham.” So… yeah. Basil the Great Mouse Detective… but as a dog… made during 1941… Reportedly the humour would have been derivative of Tex Avery’s work (think early Looney Tunes wackiness) and would have probably be seen as a Disney version of Looney Tunes. Still I’m not upset that this one didn’t get made because 20 years later as “The Shaggy Dog”. Make of that what you will.

5)Hiawatha:Imagine Pocahontas… but made in 1949. “Hiawatha was a follower of The Great Peacemaker, a prophet and spiritual leader, who proposed the unification of the Iroquois people.” Now I can’t really comment on this since I don’t know my Native American history, but I can say that 1949 probably wasn’t the best time to make something like considering what they did with Peter Pan a few years later. However the story could work well today, but only if it was written properly and had a good cultural advisor on it.

4)Yellow Submarine: Yeah Disney was going to remake Yellow Submarine, the Beatles movie from the 1960s. And whilst this sounds like a great idea… they were planning to use the motion capture technique that Robert Zemeckis is so fond of. And given the reception motion capture has received… yeah this would probably work better as a traditionally animated story. But could it also be marketed towards kids? Would they want to see a Beatles musical? I guess we’ll never know.

3)Fraidy Cat: Proposed in 2005 “This proposed feature film was to have chronicled the life of a frightened cat who had already lost three of his nine lives trapped in a Hitchcock-esque plot, but that, too, was quickly axed and never revived.” Now the concept here is actually a pretty interesting one, the visuals could have looked really good… but when you read a synopsis like that the first thing you think of isn’t Disney. Maybe Dreamworks could take a stab at this and make it work, but I think Disney made the right idea in axing it. It’s a shame though, since it would have looked very nice.

2)Army Ants: “Disney considered producing an animated feature film that centered around a pacifist ant living in a militaristic colony. However, the idea never fully materialized.” Does this sound familiar to you * cough * Dreamworks Antz * unconvincing cough *. Considering this was pitched in 1988 and the film Antz came out in 1998… yeah it’s not hard to believe that the guys that worked on this idea also worked on this film and carried it out. So this is one of the few times we see a Disney idea being made by Dreamworks. Would Disney have done a good job with it though? Well who can tell.

1)Swabbies: I’m just going to copy this 1989 proposal in full: “The story found Mickey, Donald, and Goofy out of work, out of luck, and in need of a job. They enlist in the Navy and go to boot camp with Pete as their exasperated drill instructor. They meet their feminine counterparts—Minnie, Daisy and Clarabelle—who are all WAVES. After they put to sea, they encounter a submarine full of the Beagle Boys, who all speak a Russian-sounding gibberish.The entire film was storyboarded and recorded, and an animatic was created. Complete model sheets of all of the characters were printed, and layouts and some animation had begun before the project came to an abrupt halt.” So here is perhaps the most intriguing case of a film (or at least a half hour short) ever not being made at Disney, since it was already in production at the time. They even came up with some concept art for it: http://animationarchive.net/Deleted%20Movies/Swabbies/swabbies.png

So why was this not made? Well part of me thinks that Disney didn’t think it was right showcasing their classic characters in the military. I mean they’d done so in the 40s, but to do so in the 90s with the political climate as it was… yeah it might have seen a bit distasteful. It was also a retread of films that had come before, so perhaps they stopped due to thinking it was unoriginal. Or maybe it was something as simple as not wanting to disrespect those in the actual military. Nevertheless this is perhaps the most frustrating example because it was well on its way to being made when it stopped suddenly. Who knows if any of this still exists.

So there you have it. My look at the films that should have been made, those that I’m not sure should be made, and films that should never be made under any circumstance. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.

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