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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Seven Dwarfs Sing!

The Seven Dwarfs Sing! Briefly

Seven Dwarfs and their Diamond Mine animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
The 1967 Seven Dwarfs album

Everybody knows about "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the 1937 classic that starred seven loveable little guys who save Snow White and help dispense justice to the Evil Queen.

What you may not know is that the original Seven Dwarfs have their very own songs that you've probably never heard, that don't appear in the movie. Back in the day, album tie-ins to successful motion pictures were about as common video game tie-ins are now. "Snow White" was no exception.

The Seven Dwarfs and their Diamond Mine

First up, the 1967 tie-in to the 30-year anniversary re-release of "Snow White," an album entitled "The Seven Dwarfs and their Diamond Mine." This album was put together while Walt Disney was still in charge, so it (along with the others below) reflects his vision.



All right, it isn't exactly The Beatles, but it's amusing that the powers that be would even go to the trouble of coming out with "The Seven Dwarfs and their Diamond Mine," and even more so that they did so during the Summer of Love in the midst of '60s counter-culture. It's also an amazingly brief LP, clocking in at less than half an hour - apparently, the Dwarfs sing, but not that much.

It is all silly stuff - the Dwarfs throw a ball for Snow White in a ballroom built in their diamond mine after not seeing her for a couple of years - and the album is completely in keeping with a continuing focus (one might uncharitably call it an obsession) by Disney on the Dwarfs. As evidence of that, witness the recent opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction at Walt Disney World this year. Sometimes, to understand the present, it helps to recall the past.
WALT DISNEY presents
THE STORY OF THE SEVEN DWARFS AND THEIR DIAMOND MINE
 
Disneyland Records DQ-1297 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP / Mono / 1966)
Disneyland Read-Along Book and Record LLP-316 (12” 33 1/3 RPM with Book / Mono / 1967)
Executive Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Producer/Musical Director: Camarata.
Running Times: 25 minutes (LP) / 10 minutes (Read-Along).
Performers: Robie Lester (Narrator, Seven Dwarfs, Snow White); Bill Lee, Thurl Ravenscroft and Bill Kanady (Singing Voices of the Seven Dwarfs).
Songs: “Music in Your Soup” and “You’re Never Too Old To Be Young” by Larry Morey and Frank Churchill.
Music Excerpts: “Heigh-Ho,” “One Song.”
So, there, and you thought you'd seen everything!

Walt Disney's Snow White and Sneezy

All of the Dwarfs are little guys, but some are more equal than others.

All big fans of "Snow White" have their favorite dwarf. Grumpy is a big fan favorite at the moment, and in fact is a regular on the current Disney-produced "Once Upon a Time" ABC television series. The others are not as high-profile right now - but that wasn't always the case.

Disney always has its own favorites among the seven, no doubt based on surveys about their relative cuteness or current (and apparently fickle) fan interest or... something. Back in the day, those favorites did not include Grumpy, but rather were... Sneezy and Dopey.

Snow White Sneezy animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Walt Disney's Snow White and Disney as told by Dennis Day

"Walt Disney's Snow White and Sneezy" was a 1952 release from RCA Records "as told by Dennis Day." As any big music fan will know, Dennis Day was an Irish Tenor who had a continuing relationship with the Disney corporation. He did the "Johnny Appleseed" segment from the 1948 "Fantasia" crypto-sequel "Melody Time," for instance, which was turned into a short film of its own. As with the later "Gold Mine" release, this is a quickie at a mere eight minutes.

Dennis Day was a huge star in the 1950s, appearing on two different television series at the same time. He had a boyish "Golly gee whiz, Mr. Wilson" voice that fit in perfectly with the 1950s Disney culture. But while Day's star burned bright, it flamed out and completely disappeared as he got older. He is not as well-remembered today as many other stars of the time, but his Disney association assured him lasting fame.

Here, Day helps promote the 1952 re-release of "Snow White" (are we sensing a pattern here?) by playing the roles of all of the seven Dwarfs in somewhat eccentric fashion. Billy Gilbert voiced Sneezy in the film, but Day goes off on his own interpretation that is definitely different. That's great, establishing his own mark on the character is the mark of an artist, but it strains the continuity between the album and the film which it was designed to promote.

What's most fun about this album is that the Evil Queen's death in the film is absolutely ignored, and Sneezy must battle an evil plan given to her (here, the legendary June Foray) by the Magic Mirror (Hans Conried). The bottom line - Sneezy's sneeze stops! The Prince also has a bit role, but sadly for his fans remains un-named.
WALT DISNEY’S SNOW WHITE AND SNEEZY
RCA Little Nipper Youth Series Records WY-447
Told and Sung by Dennis Day
(7” 45 RPM & 10” 78 RPM / Mono / 1952 / 8 minutes)
It's just really cool to have the Evil Queen back in action, aided and abetted by the evil Magic Mirror. Maybe she survived that fall after all?

Walt Disney's Snow White and Dopey

Along the same lines as "Snow White and Sneezy," "Snow White and Dopey" has Dennis Day again voicing the Dwarfs and narrating. The plot this time again involves the Evil Queen - who knew she was this popular! - hatching an evil plot. Apparently, she has something against the Dwarfs, another indication that this is set post-film rather than pre-film since there is no indication in the film that she had ever heard of them.

Snow White Dopey animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Walt Disney's Snow White and Dopey as told by Dennis Day

The Evil Queen here plays a similar trick as she did in the film - she pretends to be nice in order to disarm and then eviscerate her enemy. She gives Dopey jingle berries, apparently again on the counsel of that dastardly evil Magic Mirror. Dopey completely falls for it (well - he's dopey, right?), which leads to him and Snow White being captured. Do things end badly? What do you think?
 WALT DISNEY’S SNOW WHITE AND DOPEY
RCA Little Nipper Youth Series Records WY-448
Told and Sung by Dennis Day
(7” 45 RPM & 10” 78 RPM / Mono / 1952 / 8 minutes)
For both "Sneezy" and "Dopey" albums:
Producer: Steven R. Carlin. Writer: Martin Weldon. Musical Director: Henri René.
Performers: Dennis Day (Narrator, Dwarfs, Prince); June Foray (Queen, Animals); Hans Conried (Magic Mirror, Animals).
Songs: “Sneezy Song” “Dopey Song,” by Martin Weldon and Henri René.



It's highly unlikely that any of these albums were transferred to CD, but you never know what you might find down at the Disney store.


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