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Dumbo (Disney, 1941)

Dumbo was Disney’s fourth animated feature film and based on the children’s story by Helen Aberson. Dumbo was made to recoup Disney’s losses from Fantasia (at the time of Fantasia’s release in 1940, WWII prevented the film from being released in Europe). With a running time of only 64 minutes, Dumbo remains Disney’s shortest feature film.

Jumbo Jr. is a semi-anthropomorphic elephant cruelly nicknamed Dumbo. He is constantly ridiculed because of his giant ears which, when used as wings, allow Jumbo Jr. to fly. Beyond the love of his mother, Jr.’s best friend is Timothy the mouse. In the end, Jr. ends up a media sensation for the very reason he’s ridiculed.

WWII didn’t dampen American sentiment for Dumbo, it was Disney’s most financially successful film of the 1940s. During its original run, Dumbo took in $1.6 million. Dumbo became one of the first Disney films to be broadcast on TV. Dumbo won a 1941 Academy award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture and a 1947 Cannes Film Festival award for Best Animation Design.