Disney Flashback: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”

Since I’m enjoying taking a trip through all the Best Picture winners from the Oscars, I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane with the Disney animated films as well. (I don’t really know how to review my childhood, but I’m sure it’ll come to me in time.)

On January 13, my friend Emilie and I sat down to watch Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” of 1937. (No one ever calls it by the full title!) I decided it’d be fun to drink a Fair Maiden, which is a Disney-themed drink inspired by Snow White, created by Cody. (But let’s face it; I’m not a mixer.) And we had a blast looking back on our childhood, remembering certain moments and questioning other moments now that we’re older.


Rating: 5/10


My initial response to the film was that everything was FREAKIN’ CUTE, from the spiders to the flies to the chipmunks and beyond. My immediate reaction to Snow White was that she actually looked to be fourteen-years-old, and, when I was a child, I had never thought she looked young. I always thought she looked like she was in her thirties or something like that.

I forgot that there was music in the movie, and it actually didn’t play too much of a role in the storyline, except that the prince and Snow’s song synced up, which was pretty sweet. Honestly, I kept having flashbacks to “Once Upon a Time” because I’m obsessed with that show. So, if there were questions about certain scenes in the movie, I could explain things away or over-empathize because OUAT has created intricate backstories for each and every Disney character. (Is that good or bad? We shall see.)

As an adult, I’m more suspicious of fairy tales. So, this (we’ll say) fourteen-year-old girl stumbles into a home, she cleans it up, decides to make dinner, and then falls asleep on someone else’s bed. . . While she’s still cooking! (Not to mention, she can talk to animals. And they do what she wants. She has an animal army!) She goes from breaking-and-entering to caring for seven tiny men. She teaches them cleanliness and starts bossing them around IN THEIR OWN HOUSE. But they love her for it, sure. Now, in such a society, what would people say to a young woman living with seven men? This is suspicious, people.

The story was fluffy, and the ending was abrupt. The witch just falls off a cliff?! And suddenly the prince arrives for a happily ever after. . .

Most relatable character? Grumpy. He lives with six other men, who also happen to work with him. He’s been at work all day, and all he wants to do is have dinner and then go to sleep. Some girl shows up in his home unannounced, acting like she owns the place. I mean, come on. He’s a realist. He’s right in his suspicions of this young Snow White.

The most accepted theme of the film: if you wish really hard, hope really hard for something, then it will come true. . . If you take a bite out of a “Wishing Apple,” then all your hopes and dreams will come true. What a load of hogwash!

The most important lesson one can take from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:” if someone comes along selling you some crap about quick-fixes and dreams coming true in one swift moment, then it’s more than likely a lie and a deception. Take a page out of the dwarfs’ book: work hard and be loyal. Dreams can come true if you take steps toward specific goals.



Best Picture: “The Life of Emile Zola” of 1937



Rating: 4/10

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“The Life of Emile Zola” is interesting as a representation of French history. However, the title is misleading, as someone else has said. It would be more accurate to have a title related to this particularly depicted time in French history, and then from that point, Emile Zola might just pop in to save the day.

With that in mind, the story follows a lesser character on a B-plot, which, in turn, makes it the A-plot and forces the very life of Emile Zola to become the B-plot. The two storylines very weakly become intertwined, and then (Bam!) Emile Zola feels a strong connection to this minor character, who he never meets. It involves a lot of French politics and abuse of power. A lot of the scandal is weak, but I enjoyed the attempt at courtroom atmosphere.

Paul Muni as Emile Zola was compelling, but every other bit of acting left no impression. Some of the writing and directing choices were weak, so I dismissed them from my mind, so-to-say.

Some shots were ridiculous, I’m assuming an attempt at being edgy and revolutionary. And, at this point, the black-and-white game is being limited by their forerunners. (Honorable mention: way-to-go, costuming!)

If you enjoy courtroom dramas and stories that involve corrupt governmental systems, watch this film. If you’re looking for an accurate representation of Emile Zola’s life, I urge you to read a biography.

Best Picture: “The Great Ziegfeld” of 1936



Rating: 10/10

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“The Great Ziegfeld” was magical and dedicated. Like the title implies, the film follows the life of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., the very man who started the famous Ziegfeld Follies.

The film provides what it promises. In the beginning, we are shown a young Ziegfeld who exploits the strong man Sandow. We are told about his weaknesses with money and women; his tendency to lose money quicker than he can find it. And he openly admits he loves women; they’re gorgeous and treasured by him. (Not portrayed like dolls, as they were in “The Broadway Melody.”) Of course, history takes it course with this man, and he finds the appropriate personality to exploit, and his Follies are born. It’s fantastic and honest.

William Powell is so playful with his fellow actors; his performance is sincere. And while you follow him through his personal history, you never bore of Ziegfeld’s scheming and dreaming. Anna Held was marvelous as his first wife, and you truly feel for her when the women of the Follies come into her life. As a bonus, I was introduced to Fanny Brice in this film; I enjoyed the stark contrast she brought to the film when compared to the frilly beauties of the Follies.

Whoever took the time to cast, to organize, to direct, and to film this movie was a genius. Not only was the plot practical and enjoyable and true to the title, but the film was like stepping into a time machine and traveling back to classical theatre. Every performance had purpose and beauty; it was obviously choreographed and directed by dedicated artists. That deserves respect and admiration. (The only downside to this film: the three hours it takes to watch.)

Honestly, if you enjoy Lady Gaga, watch “The Great Ziegfeld.” If you love the idea of Vaudeville, watch this. If you love pretty artists, watch this. If you enjoy “The Greatest Showman,” this film is surely a precursor to its wonder. If you’re a true artist, I challenge you to take the time to watch this film; it will not disappoint.


Best Picture: “Mutiny on the Bounty” of 1935



Rating: 9/10

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“Mutiny on the Bounty” was exhilarating. There are two clear personalities in this film, sort of like Valjean and Javert in “Les Miserables.” The antagonist embodies the ideas of harsh law and justice. (Granted, his side argues from more of an abuse of power than actual justice.) And the protagonist fights for love and kindness. Of course, I prefer to root for love and kindness.

Although a little slow at first, the film surely picks up once the characters set to sea. While in the vast ocean, the captain treats his volunteers worse than animals. Once the crew lands on Tahiti, a love story ensues, and the captain wants nothing to do with it; in fact, he wants to jeopardize it. But the mysticism and romanticism of Tahiti coupled with disdain toward the captain inspire a mutiny. (Quite frankly, it’s enough to make you want to throw the captain overboard yourself.)

Once again, Clark Gable (The King of Hollywood) steals the show. Charles Laughton did a fantastic job at making me hate him, as well. (Honestly, that’s the best compliment an actor can receive as the antagonist.) Their acting partnership was phenomenal.

The makeup for this show was astounding. I was comparing it to a few recent films and was highly impressed. The shots out at sea were awesome. And I loved the diversity in angles, as well as the diverse casting.

Anyone who loves a good story about the ocean should watch this. It reminded me a lot of “In the Heart of the Sea” and “Moana.” Also, if you like a good romance, “Mutiny on the Bounty” has an element of that genre, too.


Best Picture: “It Happened One Night” of 1934


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Rating: 9/10

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“It Happened One Night” is freakin’ adorable. While watching, I literally gushed, “Awwwwww!” (See above photo.) This movie is a clever romantic comedy in which one constantly wonders, Who the hell is she going to end up with, or is she just going to make a run for it?!

Throughout the film, the writers drop cute little jabs at the characters; by the end of the film, all the minuscule plot points are tied together successfully. And the ending actually works.

Clark Gable (The King of Hollywood) and Claudette Colbert have the most believable on-screen chemistry that I’ve seen up-to-date in Best Picture. From the first minute of the movie to the last, I was rooting for Claudette. When Clark Gable showed up, I immediately fell in love with the both of them. (To be true, I was starstruck.)

The only thing that bothered me technically was a line spoken by a bus driver who simply says, “I haven’t got a hat!” while he’s wearing a hat. That confirms poor direction in consistency; I’m actually surprised that a costumer would miss that note.

Anyone looking to watch a romantic comedy should watch “It Happened One Night” at least once; it’s pure, well-thought-out, clean, and enjoyable.


Best Picture: “Cavalcade” of 1932/1933



Rating: 2/10

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“Cavalcade” was incredibly boring. I read somewhere that it marked a generation, and I have to agree with that. But I never believed this film would end. The more I wanted it to end, the longer it seemed to become.

The story followed an English woman who essentially lost everyone she cared about. If you know me, you know I enjoy a good tragedy, but to lose everyone with no through-line or point? That’s just a careless storyline.

The lead actress, first of all, struggled with the same novice acting technique that you see on the stage when “mommy dearest” reminds her daughter, “Never have your back to the audience; always look out front so that we can see your pretty face.” I swear, someone told her she needed to always have her face on camera – even when it MADE NO SENSE to look toward the camera. She treated her acting partners like pawns, and her lines were completely unbelievable. Not one word that left her mouth brought to me a sense of sympathy. And then, throw in her husband; their lack of connectedness bothered me so much that it was distracting me, even from the boredom.

As far as technical elements, there were pointless long-winded scenes in which the main cast would go to the opera or go to the theatre. . . And there was no need for it. It did not support the plot. The shots were so-so throughout the entire film. One A+ from me: the costumes. The costumes were superb.

I recommend this movie to no one unless, like certain critics have deemed, one wants to watch the passing of a generation, but I’d rather encourage reading a good book.


Best Picture: “Grand Hotel” of 1931/1932



Rating: 9/10

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In comparison to the rest of the films I’ve watched up to this point, I fear that I may need to go back and lower my former ratings. “Grand Hotel” took Best Picture to another level in terms of story, and it left me reflecting upon the power of a single moment. Overall, it’s a magical tale.

Incredibly enough five individuals enter a hotel, and by an unusual turn of events, these five people’s respective storylines get tangled up. It’s marvelous storytelling in its simplicity, and it actually got me excited to attempt the same style of writing. What impressed me the most about this type of storytelling was the overall theme of the Shakespearean Will of Fortune. (I don’t mean the game show.) I’m referring to the idea that fate smiles upon a man, and then, all of the sudden, the same man may be struck with misfortune. Fortune, thus, comes in turn. “Grand Hotel” came full circle, bookended by the line, “People coming, going. Nothing ever happens.” On the contrary, it’s a modest storyline in which an array of goings-on actually go on.

This is the first film in which I actually ended up looking into the actors because I enjoyed their performances so much. I looked into Greta Garbo’s expansive list of films. I also learned that John Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore are brothers! They were fantastic as the Baron and Mr. Kringelein. And I looked at Lionel’s impressive IMDB page and learned that he plays Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life!” So, at some point, I’ll probably watch more of their work.

I had one problem with the technical elements: the cuts. In certain scenes, the actors would be doing one action or movement with their hands, and then suddenly a cut would take actors to a different motion. There were slight editing issues, but overall the film was flawless.

I honestly believe no matter who you are, you will enjoy this story because of the whim and adventure within the hotel. (Oh, and there’s a musical based on the film that I just looked into, too! Totally awesome!)