Here is my list of the four most underrated Walt Disney movies. Hey I love all of the Walt Disney movies, well at least most of them, but the following four, at least in my opinion never get enough love. You don't really see any of their characters for sale at Disneyland or Disneyworld or at the Disney Store. Sure maybe a collectible pin, but no stuffed animal, no hat, and no costume. You can forget any rides dedicated to them, I mean Disney doesn't even have a ride for Mary Poppins and that move is one of their all time best sellers. So, on to the list.
4. The Three Caballeros: Disney produced this film based on the popularity of it's 1942 film, Saludos Amigos (Hello Friends). The Three Caballeros was produced as a good will message to South America. The movie stared Donald Duck, who is joined by Jose Carioca, the cigar smoking parrot from Saludos Amigos, who represents Brazil. Later in the film they meet up with new friend, Panchito Pistoles, a pistol carrying rooster who represents Mexico. Although the movie is considered an animated film, it is combined with live action. Several Latin American stars from that time appear, including singers Aurora Miranda, who is the sister of Carmen Miranda, Dora Luz, and dancer Carmen Molina.
The film is a series of seven segments tied together by Donald opening birthday gifts from him Latin American friends. The first present Donald gets is a film projector that shows him all the birds of Latin America. The second present is from Jose Carioca, it is a book that takes the two of them to Bahia. The third present is a piÃ±ata from Panchito Pistoles, and like all piÃ±atas there are surprises inside. In each of the seven segments you are taken to a new place in Latin America where you learn a little about the people and their culture along with learning a bit about the wildlife.
I didn't see this film until I was a teenager. I took Spanish class for three years in high school and every year a few days before winter break our Spanish teacher would show this film in class. I have to say it's the one thing I looked forward to all year in that class. Sure most of the kids would put their heads down and nap, but not me. Everything about this movie was mesmerizing to me. The story, the culture, the rich color and the music, which by the way, was composed by Manuel Esperon a very famous composer in Mexico.
3. The Black Cauldron: This is the twenty-fifth animated feature released by Walt Disney, it was release in 1985. The movie did not do well at the box office, but it has developed a very large cult following and a video game based on the movie was released in 1986. The movie is based on Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain which in turn is based on Welsh mythology. The plot is centered around the evil Horned King, voiced by John Hurt. The Horned King attempts to secure the black cauldron in order to rule the world. The heroes of the film, Taran, Princess Eilonwy, Fflewddur Fflam, Gurgi of course, try to stop the Horned King.
In the movie, Taran is an assistant pig keeper who is in charge of an oracular pig by the name of Hen Wen. The Horned King kidnaps Hen Wen with the hopes that the pig can show him the way to The Black Cauldron, which has the power to create an army of invincible undead warriors. Taran and his friends try to save Hen Wen and the world of Prydain from the Horned King, learning valuable life lessons along the way.
This movie was the first movie of Walt Disney's to be given a PG rating. I have to admit I was old enough to see this one in the theaters, and although it was not the hit Disney thought it was going to be, it left an impression on my that lasts today.
2. Robin Hood: This movie was release in 1973 and re-released in 1982 and was Disney's twenty-first animated film. Nothing much different here, it's the story of Robin Hood using animals instead. Robin Hood and Little John steal from the rich to help the poor, Robin Hood falls in love with Maid Marian, Robin Hood and the gang have to save Friar Tuck from the gallows. There is an archery contest, and a dumb lion prince that well all love to hate. I don't know what it is about this movie, the songs, the fact that they are all adorable animals, the great voices used, or the fact that I saw this movie for the first time when I was seven, but to me it's one of the most under-rated Disney movies out there. Perhaps because they had a smaller budget and had to use old animated scenes from other movies, is why it doesn't get the dues it deserves. If you pay attention to the movie you will see the same dances used in Snow White and The Jungle Book and you will hear some of the same sounds used in Cinderella.
1. The Fox and the Hound: This movie was released in 1981 and was Disney's twenty-fourth animated film. The movie is loosely based on the Daniel P. Mannix novel of the same name. The plot centers around two friends, a hound dog and a red fox, unlikely friends who fight to preserve their friendship despite their growing instinct to not be friends.
The young fox is orphaned and brought by other animals to a kind Widow, by the name of Tweed, to be looked after. Widow Tweed lives next door to a hunter named Amos Slade who at the same time gets a new puppy hound dog. Widow Tweed name's the young fox Tod and Amos Slade names his new puppy Copper. The two become fast friends as they grow despite the fact that one is suppose to hunt the other. Of course hunting season comes along, and Amos Slade takes Copper and his other dog Chief into the woods for a few months to hunt. When Copper returns he tells Tod that they can no longer be friends, because he is a hunting dog now. Before Tod can leave, Chief wakes up and chases Tod, Copper diverts Slade and Chief so Tod can get away, however, Chief gets hurt and both Copper and Slade blame Tod and swear vengeance on him.
Widow Tweed realizes it is no longer safe for Tod to live with her and sends him to a game preserve where he meets a female fox name Vixey. One day Slade and Copper trespass on the game preserve land to hunt and find Tod and Vixey. The chase after the foxes but end up provoking a bear. Slade steps on one of his own traps, and Copper tries to fight off the bear. Tod sees that Copper is struggling with the bear so he attacks the bear sending the two of them over a waterfall. Copper finds Tod laying in the lake below. As Slade comes up from behind to shoot Tod, Copper shields him and does not allow Slade to shoot him. The two friends share one last smile before going their separate ways.
Okay, I will give you a minute to pull out your tissues. Again, I saw this in the theaters at a young age. I was sad that they could not stay friends, I was upset with Slade and never like him. I didn't like Chief until his accident but then felt bad. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Times said this of the movie, "For all of its familiar qualities, this movie marks something of a departure for the Disney studio, and its movement is in an interesting direction. The Fox and the Hound is one of those relatively rare Disney animated features that contains a useful lesson for its younger audiences. It's not just cute animals and frightening adventures and a happy ending; it's also a rather thoughtful meditation on how society determines our behavior." I would not have understood that quote at such a young age, but I understand it now, and although as young as I was, I understood that just because society doesn't think we should be friends, it doesn't mean that we can't.
There you have it, my list of the top four most underrated Walt Disney Movies.