Rick’s Journal (MY FILM CAREER)
Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske
I feel shaken by my disappointment in a recent viewing of Pinocchio. This time around I found myself unusually disturbed by the kind of thing which has always concerned me even in my favorite Disney films, in this case Jiminy Cricket”s hangup on female posteriors and his being turned on by the cancan puppets. Not long before watching Pinocchio again I had written a blog about embarrassing sidekicks as a Hollywood convention. Jiminy is a prime example. He is indispensable to this plot; but he’s coarse; he’s shrewd but ignorant; and in our little Italian village of bygone days, he is quintessentially American. There is also an almost sexual tinge to the almost religious Blue Fairy — not as blatant as with Tinker Bell but it’s there; just ask Jiminy.
There is good music. There is glorious color, carefully preserved and restored over many years. There is staggering invention. In Geppetto’s shop the number of different clocks, music boxes and toys is as multifarious as nature’s profligacy. There is not time to appreciate them all. They fly past as throwaways.
Two factors startlingly new for me with this viewing: 1) The two villains who turn Pinocchio over to the stereotypically Italian Stromboli are not humans. One is a cat, the other a fox. It has never bothered me before and still doesn’t. Readers, response? 2) I have personally become so respectful of whales that I now have difficulty accepting a whale as a villain.
The Halliwell guide has this to say: “Charming, fascinating, superbly organized cartoon feature without a single second of boredom.” Halliwell gives it four stars. So does Maltin, quoted in Halliwell: “A film of amazing detail and brilliant conception.” Otis Ferguson is also quoted in Halliwell: “The limits of the animated cartoon have been blown so wide open that some of the original wonder of pictures has been restored.”
Those glowing comments express how I have always felt about Pinocchio and hope to feel again.
OUTSTANDING ACTING ON THE CURRENT SCREEN: the cast of Saving Mr. Banks. Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are excellent. But as the Disney creative crew, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak and and Jason Schwartzman are superb. More remarkable yet: the faces of Annie Rose Buckley as Ginty and Ruth Wilson as her mother. And then there’s Colin Farrell who has the job of making his flawed, failed character likeable and loveable. The film depends on our believing that he is the center of his little girl’s universe and Colin Farrell does his job.
NEXT FRIDAY POST, February 7
See you at the movies,