A look back at this day in film history
February 07
Pinocchio February 7, 1940
Pinocchio premieres

Pinocchio, Walt Disney’s second animated feature, opened not long after war had broken out in Europe. As a consequence, the movie was a financial disaster. Barred from German and especially Italian markets, the film recouped only $1.4 million of its $2.3 million budget. But as a piece of animation, the film was magnificent success. While making Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the 30s, Disney was developing a number of other projects, including Pinocchio and Bambi. The original story, The Adventures of Pinocchio, was written by the Italian political journalist Carlo Collodi and published as a serial adventure between 1881 and 1883. While pure fantasy, many aspects of the book pointed to real and painful political realities (poverty, class oppression, etc). And the story ended violently with the puppet child being hanged, an ending the publisher insisted Collodi change. The book published from the serialized stories became an international children’s classic. Disney registered the title for a film in 1934, and began story meetings four years later. As soon as Snow White was finished, the animation team went to work on Pinocchio, taking their creative direction from many of the existing illustrations, as well as a range old world European images. But only months into production, Disney halted the project, and quite literally went back to the drawing table. Pinocchio was reconceived more as a boy than puppet, and Disney added a touch of the New World with the introduction of Jiminy Cricket.  Both the name and attitude were pure American (“Jiminy Cricket” being derived from the expletive Jesus Christ.). The little cricket was now given star billing, some of the best songs (“When you Wish upon a Star”), and ended up with a career all his own, reappearing in several shorts and in much of Disney’s marketing material.

More Flashbacks
February 7, 1961
Breathless opens in US

America gasped at Jean-Luc Godard’s virtuosic debut.

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