This is going to set you back several Disney dollars… (Part 1)
Count Fosco, a good friend of mine, was recently inquiring about the subject of Disney animated features on DVD, and it occurred to me that a post dealing specifically with the available versions and which ones are the best would be a good idea. Disney, after all, has a rather annoying habit of releasing a film on DVD for a limited period, deleting it and then re-releasing it a few years down the line, and, as a result, there are several different iterations of many of their animated classics. This post isn’t meant to be taken as completely gospel, because I don’t own every single Disney film on DVD, but, generally speaking, I’ve tried my best to point out instances where I am unsure about a specific title.
So, without further ado…
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (David Hand, 1937) - I don’t own this title on DVD (surprisingly). Of the various editions released, the most preferable seems to be the now out of print Region 1 2-disc Platinum Edition from 2001, which features the original mono track (the Region 2 UK release claims to have a stereo track instead, but I can’t confirm whether or not this is a mislabelled mono track). A new Platinum Edition is expected in 2009.
Pinocchio (Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske, 1940) - The old Region 1 Gold Collection release is long OOP, but the currently-available Region 2 UK Special Edition features a very nice transfer, despite limited extras and a lack of the original mono audio mix. A Platinum Edition is expected in 2009.
Fantasia (James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe, Norman Ferguson, Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, 1940) - I don’t own this one on DVD. The 60th Anniversary Special Edition and 3-disc Collector’s Edition (bundled with Fantasia 2000) are both OOP. A Platinum Edition is expected at some point, but there is currently no estimated release date.
Dumbo (Ben Sharpsteen, 1941) - No known version contains the original mono mix. The recent US Big Top Edition has the most extras, although it does drop a few that were included in the earlier and now OOP 60th Anniversary Edition. It also has a cleaner transfer, although the 60th Anniversary Edition (the one I own) probably looks more faithful to the film’s original intended look.
Bambi (David Hand, 1942) - This film wasn’t actually released on DVD until 2005, as a 2-disc Platinum Edition, which is now OOP. Unusually, the Region 2 releases all seem to include the original mono mix, meaning that any of the available releases of this film should be adequate. Please note, though, that all releases suffer from some noticeable “drifting” artefacts.
Saludos Amigos (Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, 1942) - I don’t own this one on DVD. The OOP Region 1 version is edited to remove a racial stereotype; I’m unable to confirm whether the Region 2 releases are similarly affected.
The Three Caballeros (Norman Ferguson, 1944) - I don’t own this one on DVD. The OOP Region 1 release includes the original mono mix. I don’t have access to the specs for the Region 2 version.
Make Mine Music (Bob Cormack, Clyde Geronimi, Joe Grant, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, Joshua Meador, 1946) - I don’t own this one on DVD. All releases appear to be edited to remove an entire 8-minute short, “Martins & Coys”.
Fun and Fancy Free (Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, William Morgan, 1947) - I don’t own this one on DVD. The Region 1 release is preferable for including the original mono mix; all other versions feature a 5.1 remix.
Melody Time (Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, 1948) - I don’t own this one on DVD. The Region 1 release is edited to remove a cigar from one of the shorts; the Region 2 UK release is unedited. Note, however, that the US release features the original mono mix, while the UK release appears only to have a 5.1 remix.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney, 1949) - I don’t own this one on DVD. The Region 1 release is preferable for including the original mono mix, whereas the Region 2 releases are 5.1 only.
Cinderella (Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, 1950) - I don’t own this one on DVD. The 2-disc Platinum Edition is the only current release of this film, and, as all territories appear to include the original mono mix, any version should suffice.
Alice in Wonderland (Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, 1951) - The 2004 Region 1 2-disc Masterpiece Edition includes the original mono mix and the best assortment of extras. Avoid the various Region 2 (and Region 4) editions, which junk most of the extras plus the mono mix so that the film can be sold on a single disc. The old OOP Gold Collection release features a poorer transfer and minimal extras, and is also missing the mono mix.
Part 2 will follow in the not too distant future…