Song of the South (1946)

Genres - Children's/Family  |   Sub-Genres - Childhood Drama, Rural Drama  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

For many years one of the most popular Disney films, Song of the South has been criticized for soft-pedaling race relations during the South's Reconstruction era. Many of the African-American characters, especially Uncle Remus, are considered too Uncle Tom-ish, and there's no denying that the film does not address the real concerns of the black characters, other than as how they relate to the white characters. However, if one can get past this considerable stumbling block, there is a great deal to admire in Song. The story is melodramatic but engrossing, filled with an appealing innocence which may be too fanciful to be true, but is irresistible nonetheless. The score is a delight, and includes the classic "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," as well as the infectious "Laughing Place" and the sinuous "Sooner or Later." What makes the film, however, are the fabulous animated sequences (as well as the artful blending of live action and animation). The cartoon characters have a life and vitality that is palpable; they truly light up the screen. Both the live action and animated segments are aided by a lush color palette that is truly gorgeous. The cast is quite good, with Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten adorable without being cloying, and James Baskett avuncular and charming. Due to the controversy surrounding it, Song of the South has been largely unavailable in the U.S. since 1986.