Though definitely not a sequel, So Dear to My Heart is something of a follow-up to the more memorable Song of the South (although without the earlier film's racial aspect that causes discomfort among some modern viewers). Heart features several of Song's cast members, an agrarian period setting and a blend of live action and animation, but there the similarities end. The animation is professional but neither as lively nor as interesting as that in Song, and the cartoon elements therefore do not stand out; they're genial but not impressive. The score is catchy and serviceable, but not memorable, and the title song, while popular in its time, is somewhat on the treacly side. The screenplay lacks surprises, but does what it sets out to do, much like Harold D. Schuster's laidback direction. While no one turns in a powerhouse performance, the cast is solid. Bobby Driscoll carries off the lead role with assurance; if he occasionally goes in for a bit too much "cutesiness," he's still appealing. Beulah Bondi is quite good as the grandmother, a role which could easily be played as a too much of a harridan or too much of an old softy, and a young Burl Ives brings his downhome folksiness to the role of the uncle. Heart is typical of many Disney films of the period, but it has a warmth and a heart that will cause many viewers to overlook its flaws and give it a warm embrace.
by Craig Butler review