Cinderella (1950 film)

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Original theatrical release poster
Directed by Clyde Geronimi
Hamilton Luske
Wilfred Jackson
Produced by Walter Disney
Written by Ken Anderson
Perce Pearce
Homer Brightman
Winston Hibler
Bill Peet
Erdman Penner
Harry Reeves
Joe Rinaldi
Ted Sears
Based on Cendrillon 
by Charles Perrault
Narrated by Betty Lou Gerson
Starring Ilene Woods
Eleanor Audley
Verna Felton
Rhoda Williams
James MacDonald
Luis Van Rooten
Don Barclay
Mike Douglas
Lucille Bliss
Music by Oliver Wallace
Paul J. Smith
Editing by Donald Halliday
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Release dates
  • February 15, 1950 (1950-02-15)
Running time 74 minutes1
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.9 million2
Box office $85 million2

Cinderella is a 1950 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures. Based on the fairy tale "Cendrillon" by Charles Perrault, it is twelfth in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, and was released on February 15, 1950. Directing credits go to Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske and Wilfred Jackson. Songs were written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman. Songs in the film include "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", "So This Is Love", "Sing Sweet Nightingale", "The Work Song", and "Cinderella".

At the time, Walt Disney Productions had suffered from losing connections to the European film markets due the outbreak of World War II, suffering from embarrassing box office disasters like Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi. The studio was over $4 million in debt and was on the verge of bankruptcy if one more slip-up were to occur. Walt Disney and his animators then turned back to feature film production in 1948 after producing a string of package films with the idea of adapting of Charles Perrault's Cendrillon. After two years in production with planning, collaboration, teamwork, and faith, Cinderella was finally released on February 15, 1950. It turned out to be the greatest critical and commercial smash hit for the studio since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and helped reverse fortunes for the studio for the better. It became one of the greatest and beloved Disney films ever made and one of the best American animated films ever made, selected by the American Film Institute. It received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Music, Original Song for "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo". In the years to come, it was followed by two direct-to-video sequels: Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and Cinderella III: A Twist in Time.


Cinderella is the much-loved only child of a widowed aristocrat. After deciding that his dearly beloved daughter needs a mother's care, Cinderella's father marries Lady Tremaine, a proud and confident woman with two daughters from her first marriage, Drizella and Anastasia. Plain and socially awkward, the stepsisters are bitterly envious of Cinderella's charm and beauty. After the death of Cinderella's father, Lady Tremaine and her daughters take over the estate and begin to abuse and mistreat Cinderella out of jealousy, even allowing their cat, Lucifer, to torment her. Despite being forced into servitude in her own home, Cinderella becomes a kind and gentle woman and befriends the animals living in the barn and many of the mice and birds who live in and around the chateau.

One day as Cinderella is getting her clothes on, she and the mice find a new mouse (whom she later names Ocatvius, or Gus for short) in a mouse trap cage. After Cinderella gives Gus some new clothes, she then informs Jaq to tell Gus about Lucifer. The two mice go to spy on Lucifer as Cinderella starts her chores. When Cinderella is giving breakfast to the animals, Jaq and Gus and three other mice go for breakfast too. There they see Lucifer blocking the way. Jaq distracts Lucifer and the mice get their food. Gus gets 9 pieces of chickens feed and while running to the hole, one of the mice drop one of their pieces. Gus decides to get it but Lucifer notices him. Lucifer chases after Gus and Gus hides in Anastasia's teacup as Cinderella delivers the breakfast trays to her step-mother and step-sisters. When Anastasia opens up her teacup, she screams to her mother about it. The result of this had Cinderella to do extra chores around the chateau.

At the royal palace, the King is distressed that his son does not intend to marry. Determined to see grandchildren before he passes away, the King and the Duke organize a ball for Prince Charming in an effort to enable his son to marry, with every eligible maiden in the kingdom requested to attend. When the invitation to the ball arrives, Cinderella asks her stepmother if she can attend, since she too is an eligible maiden and would have to attend. Lady Tremaine agrees, provided if Cinderella finishes her chores and finds a nice dress to wear. With Cinderella being too distracted with extra chores (including intentionally added ones), her animal friends, led by Jaq and Gus, fixes up a gown that belonged to Cinderella's late mother. Jaq and Gus go downstairs and see the stepsister's beads and sashes being dumped on the floor but they also see Lucifer there too. They grab the sash and then they try to get the beads but Lucifer guards them. Jaq makes a distraction and Gus gets some of the beads but their string breaks. Jaq and Gus quickly get the beads and escape before Lucifer catches them. The animals had finished Cinderella's dress just as the royal carriage had arrived. When Cinderella came down wearing her new dress just before the women's departing, Lady Tremaine compliments Cinderella's gown, subtly pointing out the beads and sash. Angered by the apparent theft of the discarded items, the stepsisters rip the gown. Heartbroken, Cinderella runs outside to the garden, crying.

At the point of giving up her hopes and dreams, Cinderella's Fairy Godmother appears and bestows upon Cinderella a new ball gown with glass slippers. She also transforms a pumpkin into a carriage, the mice into horses, Major the horse into a coachman, and Bruno the dog into a footman. Cinderella departs for the ball after the godmother warns her that the spell will break at the stroke of midnight, meaning that her dress and everything else will change back to the way they were. At the ball, the Prince rejects every girl (especially the stepsisters), until he sees Cinderella. The two fall strongly in love and dance alone throughout the castle grounds until the clock starts to chime midnight. The prince tried to get her name but Cinderella flees to her coach and away from the castle, inadvertently dropping one of her glass slippers. The Duke sent the guards to stop them but they failed to do so as Cinderella and the other animals were reverting back and hid from them. After her clothes turn back into rags, she reminisces about her dance with the prince. The mice point out that the other glass slipper is still on her foot. She thanks her godmother for all she's done for her. Back at the castle, the Duke tells the King of the disaster. They then plan to find the owner of the slipper they recovered during her exit.

The next morning, the King proclaims that the Grand Duke will visit every house in the kingdom to find the girl whose foot fits the glass slipper, so that she can be married to the Prince. When this news reaches Cinderella's household, her stepmother and stepsisters prepare for the Grand Duke's arrival. Cinderella, overhearing the news, begins dreamily humming the song played from the palace ball the previous night. Upon discovering that Cinderella is the girl who danced with the Prince, Lady Tremaine locks Cinderella up to her attic bedroom.

When the Grand Duke arrives, the mice steal the key to Cinderella's room but before they can deliver it, they are ambushed by Lucifer. But with the help of the other mice, birds and Bruno, they chase him out the window and Cinderella is freed. As the Duke prepares to leave after the stepsisters unsuccessfully try on the slipper, Cinderella appears and requests to try it on. Knowing that the slipper will fit, Lady Tremaine subtly trips the footman, causing him to drop the slipper which shatters into hundreds of pieces. The Duke laments over the broken slipper, Lady Tremaine smiling secretly at her success in stopping the Duke, but Cinderella then produces the other glass slipper, much to her stepmother's horror. Delighted at this indisputable proof of the maiden's identity and discovering that Cinderella is the girl who danced with the Prince at the ball, the Duke slides the slipper onto her foot which fits perfectly. Soon afterwards, Cinderella and Prince Charming celebrate their wedding, surrounded by confetti tossed by the King, the Grand Duke and the mice, and the story ends with Cinderella and the Prince kissing each other in their wedding carriage.


Directing animators


Made on the cusp between the classic "golden age" Disney animations of the 1930s and 1940s and the less critically acclaimed productions of the 1950s, Cinderella is representative of both eras.

Cinderella was the first full-bodied feature produced by the studio since Bambi in 1942; World War II and low box office returns had forced Walt Disney to produce a series of inexpensive package films such as Make Mine Music and Fun and Fancy Free for the 1940s. Live action reference was used extensively to keep animation costs down. According to Laryn Dowel, one of the directing animators of the film, roughly 90% of the film was done in live action model before animation, using basic sets as references for actors and animators alike.

Both Helene Stanley (Cinderella's live action model) and Ilene Woods (Cinderella's voice actor, selected from 400 other candidates) heavily influenced Cinderella's styling and mannerisms. Stanley was the live-action model for Anastasia Tremaine as well.3 She would be so again for Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and Anita Radcliffe in One Hundred and One Dalmatians.4 Animators modeled Prince Charming on actor Jeffrey Stone, who also provided some additional voices for the film.5 Mike Douglas was the Prince's singing voice while William Phipps acted the part.

In earlier drafts of the screenplay, the Prince originally played a larger role and had more character development than what he ultimately received in the final version of the film. In one abandoned opening, the Prince was shown hunting a deer, but at the end of the sequence, it was to be revealed that the Prince and the deer were actually friends playing a game. In an abandoned alternate ending, after the Duke discovered Cinderella's identity, she was shown being brought to the castle to be reintroduced to the Prince, who is surprised to learn that Cinderella was actually a modest servant girl instead of the princess he thought she was, but the Prince's feelings for her were too strong to be bothered by this and he embraced her; the Fairy Godmother was to reappear and restore Cinderella's ball gown for the closing shot. Walt Disney himself reportedly cut the alternate ending because he felt it was overlong and did not give the audience its "pay off", but the scene would later be incorporated in the video game, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.

Other deleted material included an abandoned song that was tentatively titled the "Cinderella Work Song", which was part of a fantasy sequence that was set to take place after Lady Tremaine tells Cinderella that she can go to the ball if she finishes all of her chores and has a nice dress to wear. In this abandoned sequence, Cinderella imagines cloning herself into an army to divide up the work while pondering what the ball itself will be like. The sequence was cut, but the title was applied to the song the mice sing when they work on Cinderella's dress. Additionally, there was a scene that took place after the ball in which Cinderella was seen returning to her home and eavesdropped on her stepfamily, who were ranting about the mystery girl at the ball, and Cinderella was shown to be amused by this because they were talking about her without realizing it. Walt Disney reportedly cut the scene because he thought it made Cinderella look "spiteful" and felt the audience would lose sympathy for her.

For the first time, Walt turned to Tin Pan Alley song writers to write the songs. The music of Tin Pan Alley would later become a recurring theme in Disney animation. Cinderella was the first Disney film to have its songs published and copyrighted by the newly created Walt Disney Music Company. Before movie soundtracks became marketable, movie songs had little residual value to the film studio that owned them and were often sold off to established music companies for sheet music publication.

"Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" became a hit single four times, with notable versions by Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters. Woods beat exactly 309 girls for the part of Cinderella, after some demo recordings of her singing a few of the film's songs were presented to Walt Disney. However, she had no idea she was auditioning for the part until Disney contacted her; she initially made the recordings for a few friends who sent them to Disney without her knowledge. Reportedly, Disney thought Woods had the right "fairy tale" tone to her voice.

Interestingly, almost 30 years before he made "Cinderella" into a feature-length animated film, Walt Disney already made a short film of it as the last of the Laugh-O-Gram series, as a Roaring 20's version. This short is included as an extra on the Cinderella Platinum Edition DVD.

During production, Walt Disney pioneered the use of double tracked vocals for the song "Sing Sweet Nightingale", before it had been used by artists in studio recordings such as the Beatles. When Ilene Woods had completed the days recording of "Sing Sweet Nightingale", Walt listened and asked her if she could sing harmony with herself. She was apprehensive about the idea as it was unheard of; though she ended up singing the double recording, including second and third part harmonies. Ilene Woods reveals the innovation in an interview.6


  • "Cinderella" - The Jud Conlon Chorus, Marni Nixon
  • "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" - Cinderella
  • "Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale" - Drizella, Cinderella
  • "The Work Song" - The Mice
  • "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" - The Fairy Godmother
  • "So This Is Love" - Cinderella, Prince Charming
  • "So This Is Love (reprise)" - Cinderella
  • "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes (reprise)" - The Jud Conlon Chorus

On Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic, this includes "The Work Song" and "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" on the first disc, "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" and "So This Is Love" on the second, and "Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale" on the fourth. On Disney's Greatest Hits, "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" is included on the first volume and "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" on the second.


Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released February 4, 1997
Label Walt Disney

The soundtrack for Cinderella was first released by Walt Disney Records on February 4, 1997 and included a bonus demo.7 On October 4, 2005 Disney released a special edition of the soundtrack album of Cinderella, for the Platinum Edition DVD release, which includes several demo songs cut from the final film, a new song, and a cover version of "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes".8 The soundtrack was released again on October 2, 2012 and consisted of several lost chords and new recordings of them.9 A Walmart exclusive limited edition "Music Box Set" consisting of the soundtrack without the lost chords or bonus demos, the Song and Story: Cinderella CD and a bonus DVD of Tangled Ever After was released on the same day.10

All songs written and composed by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, Al Hoffman. 

No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "Cinderella (Main Title)"   The Jud Conlon Chorus; Marni Nixon 2:52
2. "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"   Ilene Woods 4:34
3. "A Visitor/Caught in a Trap/Lucifer/Feed the Chickens/Breakfast is Served/Time on Our Hands"   Oliver Wallace; Paul J. Smith 2:11
4. "The King's Plan"   Paul J. Smith; Oliver Wallace 1:22
5. "The Music Lesson/Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale/Bad Boy Lucifer/A Message from His Majesty"   Rhoda Williams; Ilene Woods; Paul J. Smith; Oliver Wallace 2:07
6. "Little Dressmakers/The Work Song/Scavenger Hunt/A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes/The Dress/My Beads/Escape to the Garden"   James MacDonald; Oliver Wallace; Paul J. Smith 9:24
7. "Where Did I Put That Thing/Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo"   Verna Felton; Paul J. Smith; Oliver Wallace 4:48
8. "Reception at the Palace/So This Is Love"   Ilene Woods; Paul J. Smith; Mike Douglas; Oliver Wallace 5:45
9. "The Stroke of Midnight/Thank You Fairy Godmother"   Oliver Wallace; Paul J. Smith 2:05
10. "Locked in the Tower/Gus and Jaq to the Rescue/Slipper Fittings/Cinderella's Slipper/Finale"   Oliver Wallace; Paul J. Smith 7:42
11. "I'm In The Middle Of A Muddle" (Demo Recording)    

All songs written and composed by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, Al Hoffman, except track 12 written and composed by Larry Morey, Charles Wolcott and track 13 written and composed by Jim Brickman, Jack Kugell, Jamie Jones. 

All songs written and composed by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, Al Hoffman. 

All songs written and composed by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, Al Hoffman. 


The film was originally released in theaters on February 15, 1950, followed by theatrical re-releases in 1957, 1965, 1973, 1981, and 1987.11 Cinderella also played a limited engagement in select Cinemark Theatres from February 16–18, 2013.12

Home media

It was released on VHS video and laserdisc in 1988 as part of the Walt Disney Classics collection. The release had a promotion with a free lithograph reproduction for those who pre-ordered the video before its release date. In 1995, the film received a Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection video issue. Disney then restored and remastered the movie for its October 4, 2005 release as the sixth installment of the Walt Disney Platinum Editions series. According to Studio Briefing, Disney sold 3.2 million copies in its first week and earned over $64 million in sales.13 The Platinum Edition DVD of the original movie along with its sequels went on moratorium on January 31, 2008. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, a "Royal Edition" of Cinderella was released on DVD on April 4, 2011 to celebrate the UK Royal Wedding. This release had a unique limited edition number on every slip case and an exclusive art card.14 Disney released a Diamond Edition in October 2, 2012 in a 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo, a 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo and in a 6-disc "Jewelry Box Set" that includes the first film alongside its two sequels. A 1-disc DVD edition was released on November 20, 2012.15


Cinderella currently has a score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The overview of the film is, 'The rich colors, sweet songs, adorable mice and endearing (if suffering) heroine make Cinderella a nostalgically lovely charmer'.

The profits from the film's release, with the additional profits from record sales, music publishing, publications and other merchandise gave Disney the cash flow to finance a slate of productions (animated and live action), establish his own distribution company, enter television production and begin building Disneyland during the decade.

Disney had not had a huge hit since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The production of this film was regarded as a major gamble on his part. At a cost of nearly $3 million, Disney insiders claimed that if Cinderella failed at the box office, then the Disney studio would have closed (given that the studio was already heavily in debt).16 The film was a huge box office success and allowed Disney to carry on producing films throughout the 1950s.17 It was the 5th most popular movie at the British box office in 1951.18


The film received three Academy Award nominations for Best Sound (C. O. Slyfield), Original Music Score and Best Song for "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo".19 At the 1st Berlin International Film Festival it won the Golden Bear (Music Film) award and the Big Bronze Plate award.20

In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "10 Top 10"— the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Cinderella was acknowledged as the 9th greatest film in the animation genre.2122

American Film Institute recognition:

Sequels and other media


  1. ^ "CINDERELLA (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 1950-03-09. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  2. ^ a b "Box Office Information for Cinderella.". The Numbers. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  3. ^ AFI's 10 Top 10 Cinderella Retrieved February 2, 2013
  4. ^ "Cinderella Character History". Disney Archives. 
  5. ^ "Jeffrey Stone, 85, was model for Prince Charming". Big Cartoon Forum. 2012-08-24. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  6. ^ Video on YouTube
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Cinemark Announces the Return of Favorite Disney Classic Animated Movies to the Big Screen
  13. ^ "Hand-Drawn Cinderella a Huge Hit Again". October 12, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  14. ^ "Cinderella: Royal Edition - The official DVD website". Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  15. ^ Katz, Josh. "Cinderella: Diamond Edition Blu-ray". Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  16. ^ "Cinderella". The Walt Disney Family Museum. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  17. ^ Gabler, Neal (2006). Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. New York: Random House. pp. 476–478. ISBN 978-0-679-75747-4. 
  18. ^ "Vivien Leigh Actress Of The Year.". Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 29 December 1951. p. 1. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  19. ^ "The 23rd Academy Awards (1951) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  20. ^ "1st Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". 
  21. ^ "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". June 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  22. ^ "Top Ten Animation". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  23. ^ Disney's Cinderella KIDS

External links

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