The 1950s was a decade of transition of Disney movies from its early masterpieces like Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to a whole new level of fairy tales, Disney princesses, and animated musical adventures. Let’s take a look at the top Disney movies of the 1950s.
This film was released on February 15, 1950 and it features a sweet and faithful telling of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella with beautiful animation and adorable taking mice. This animated movie is Disney’s twelfth animated feature film and it was directed by Wilfred Jackson, Clyde Geronimi, and Hamilton Luske. It also features the classic songs such as “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”, “Bibidi-Bobbidi-Boo”, and “Sling Sweet Nightingale”. Cinderella became Disney’s greatest critical and commercial hit since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In fact, it was even nominated three times in the Academy Awards for Best Music, Best Song, and Best Music and Original Song.
Treasure Island was a movie adapted from the 1883 novel of the same title by Robert Louis Stevenson. This film was released on July 22, 1950 and it was directed by Bryon Haskin. It starred Robert Newton who played Long John Silver and Bobby Driscoll who portrayed Jim Hawkins. Treasure Island was Disney’s firsts complete live-action film and it was also the first on-screen version of the novel that was made in color. Making Treasure Island the oldest Walt Disney live action film.
Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland was an animated musical fantasy-adventure film that was based on the book entitled Alice written by Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland will take you on a psychedelic adventure where you will meet the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts. This was supposed to be a live action and animated film but Disney decided to make it just an all-animated film. The first release of Alice in Wonderland was considered to be a flop and it led the Walt Disney to air the film on television as one of the first episode of the TV Series, Disneyland. It became a hit on television which eventually led the film to be re-released in theaters and became massively successful.
This is another “Disneyfied” film because Peter Pan was a fantasy adventure film that was based on a play entitled “Peter Pan, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up” by James M. Barrie. Peter Pan was released on February 1953 and it is Disney’s 14th animated feature film. It was also the last animated feature film that Disney released through RKO Radio Pictures because Walt Disney founded his own distribution company which is Buena Vista Distribution.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was science fiction film that was personally produced by Mr. Walt Disney himself. It was directed by Richard Fleischer and it starred James Mason, Peter Lorre, Paul Lukas, and Kirk Douglas. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was adapted from the 19th century novel of the same title by Jules Verne’s. The movie received both commercial and critical success and it even won two Academy Awards for Best Special Effects and Best Art Direction.
Lady and the Tramp
Lady and the Tramp is a musical romance film that was released in June 1955. It was Disney’s 15th animation feature film and it is once again a “Disneyfied” movie because it was based on a novel entitled “Happy Dan, Cynical Dog” that was written by Ward Greene. Lady and the Tramp follows the story of a female American Cocker Spaniel named Lady that lives with a sophisticated family and a male stray dog named Tramp. Together they embark on several romantic adventures and fall in love with each other.
Sleeping Beauty was Disney’s 16th animated feature film and it was once again adapted from a novel of the same title that was written by Charles Perrault. However, Sleeping Beauty was the last adaptation of a fairy tale until 1989 because its initial release received mixed critical reviews and it did not perform well in the box office. That’s why they did not return to creating that genre 30 years later with the release of The Little Mermaid in 1989.
The Shaggy Dog
The Shaggy Dog is a black-and-white live-action film that was released in 1959. It is a about a teenage boy named Wilby Daniels who has an enchanted ring of the Borgias which has the power of transforming him in to a shaggy Old English Sheepdog. The Shaggy Dog was based on a 1923 novel by Felix Salten entitled The Hound of Florence. The film was directed by Charles Barton and it starred Jean Hagen, Fred MacMurray, Kevin Corcoran, Roberta Shore, Tommy Kirk, Tim Considine, and Annette Funicello. The Shaggy Dog was Disney’s first live-action comedy film.
The African Lion
The African Lion was a documentary film that was released in 1955 as a part of Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures series. This documentary film follows the life of the lion for three years in the complexity of the African ecosystem. The African Lion was so carefully and beautifully made that it won the Silver Bear award in the documentary category at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival.
Johnny Tremain was a live-action adventure film that was released in 1957. It was based on a Newbery Medal-winning children’s 1944 novel of the same title by Esther Forbes. Johnny Tremain follows the story of the times in Boston, Massachusetts before the outbreak of the American Revolution. This film was originally intended to be a TV movie but it was first released to theaters.
These are the top Disney films of the 1950s, which one is your favorite?