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5 Animated Disney Films Everyone Forgets About

Do you remember any of these?

By Kristy AndersonPublished 7 months ago 5 min read
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Credit: Disney.

Disney fans around the world have fallen in love with the short film Once Upon A Studio, produced to celebrate one hundred years of Disney animation. The short, taking place after the studio has closed for the day, follows numerous characters as they emerge from the frames on the studio walls, while Mickey and Minnie Mouse attempt to gather them all for a group photo in celebration of the hundred-year milestone.

The short features over 500 characters from Disney animated features and shorts, uses a mix of traditional and CGI animation, and features the voice work of forty actors through both new and archival recordings. With so many characters and films produced over the last century, it is understandable that some would fade from memory, however, the appearance of some of these more obscure characters in Once Upon A Studio has brought new attention to some of these forgotten films.

Here are some of the animated Disney films you probably forgot about.

1. Make Mine Music

During World War II, a large majority of Walt Disney Animation Studios staff had been drafted. Those who remained behind were pushed by the U.S Government to produce training and propaganda cartoons. To keep Disney's feature film division alive during this time, a skeleton crew of animators produced a collection of six package films, each featuring a series of unrelated animated shorts set to music. The third of these, Make Mine Music, was released in 1946.

Make Mine Music is made up of ten segments, the most of any of the package films. Most of the segments have been re-used separately from the film, released as individual theatrical shorts, or segments on Disney anthology programs or videos.

However, the film in it's entirety is near impossible to come by, as it has never seen a wide home video release outside North America, and even then, these releases often omit the original opening short, The Martins and The Coys, for gunplay deemed unsuitable for young audiences, and heavily edits another short, All The Cats Join In, for sexualised imagery. And, it is the only film in the Disney animated canon not to be available on the Disney Plus streaming service. It is highly likely the only people to have seen the full, unedited version of Make Mine Music are those who saw it during its limited war-time theatrical release, making the film a mostly forgotten piece of Disney history.

2. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Prior to WWII, Disney animators were developing animated adaptations of classic children's novel The Wind In The Willows, and Washington Irving's short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Both were initially intended to become their own full length feature, but in light of Disney's reduced staff, the projects were reworked as shorts and merged to become The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, the studio's final wartime package film.

The two shorts that make up the film were later split and aired as separate segments on the Disneyland anthology TV series, and both have a presence in Disney parks. Mr Toad's Wild Ride at the original Disneyland in anaheim follows the plot of The Wind In the Willows short, while Sleepy Hollow's Headless Horseman appears in park parades during the Halloween season. However, the full length version of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad has only received limited home video releases, so most fans are more likely to remember the individual shorts rather than the film as a whole.

3. The Black Cauldron

Released in 1985, The Black Cauldron loosely adapts the first two books in Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series. Taran, a young assistant Pig-Keeper imagines himself as a future war hero. Taran soon learns that Henwen, the pig he cares for, possesses psychic powers, and could be a target for the evil Horned King. While attempting to transport Henwen to safety, Taran meets the Princess Eilonwy and becomes swept into a quest to keep the Horned King from locating the Black Cauldron, the source of his evil power.

The Black Cauldron was much darker in tone than most Disney films, and faced heavy edits before release after some sequences proved too disturbing to children in test screenings. Despite the edits, the film was a massive box office bomb, almost killing Disney's animation department, and as a result of it's failure, it was buried in the Disney vault for over a decade. When The Black Cauldron was finally released on video, the film quickly developed a cult following, but remains one of the least remembered features in the Disney animated canon.

4. Dinosaur

Released in 2000, Dinosaur was intended to herald in a new era for Disney animation. Passing through the claws of various predators, a stolen Iguanadon egg eventually makes its way into a tree housing a family of lemurs. Hatching in the tree, the baby Iguanadon, Aladar, is adopted and raised by the lemurs.

When their island home is destroyed by a meteor shower, the now adult Aladar and his adoptive family join a large multi-species dinosaur herd on their migration to the safety of the nesting grounds. They make friends within the herd, and must work together in the face of pursuing predators, and the outdated, 'survival of the fittest' mentality of Kron, the herd leader.

Making use 0f CGI characters in filmed live-action environments, Dinosaur was a technological achievement with visuals that still hold up even by today's high standards. It was a hit at the time of it's release, and was one of the highest selling Home Video releases of 2001. Unfortunately, in the long term, Dinosaur's visual spectacle was not enough to save it from a lacklustre plot, resulting in the film drifting from the memory of all but the most die-hard fans.

5. Home On The Range

In 2004, Disney released the Western-inspired Home On The Range. After Cattle Rustler Alameda Slim steals all the other cattle on her ranch, forcing it to close, decorated show cow Maggie (voiced by Roseanne Barr) is moved to hobby farm Patch of Heaven, owned by the kindly Pearl. Unfortunately, Pearl is behind on paying back a bank loan, and if she cannot find the money within three days, Patch of Heaven and it's occupants will be sold off. Unwilling to lose another home, Maggie convinces fellow cows Mrs. Calloway (Dame Judi Dench) and Grace (Jennifer Tilly) to venture away from the safety of Patch of Heaven on a quest to capture Alameda Slim, after which they will allow Pearl to collect the bounty on him and save the farm.

After the box office disappointments of Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet, it was hoped that Home On The Range would continue the return to form seen with Brother Bear, released a year prior. Unfortunately, the film was a massive flop, leading to Disney's decision to stop producing 2D traditionally animated films, the only exceptions being The Princess and the Frog, and 2011's Winnie The Pooh. Unlike Atlantis and Treasure Planet, which eventually earned cult-classic status, Home on the Range remains one of Disney's most forgettable films.

While often forgotten by all except the most hardcore fans, none of these are bad films, and each one has good moments. If anything, the high quality of even their lesser known films proves why, even after one hundred years, Disney remains the biggest name in animation.

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About the Creator

Kristy Anderson

Passionate About all things Entertainment!

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  • Amanda Rue4 months ago

    "Dinosaur" and "Home on the Range" are the only two movies from this list that I have watched. As someone who grew up watching "The Land Before Time", "Dinosaur" was an immediate favorite in my book. I recently watched "Home on the Range" for the first time. It wasn't a bad movie, it just didn't quite feel like a Disney movie. I have yet to watch "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" and "The Black Cauldron" but I am familiar with the names and movie premises. I think I never watched them mostly because they are more adventure-themed and maybe more on the dark side. I'd love to give them a watch eventually. "Make Mine Music" I had never even heard of until you listed it here in your article. Willy didn't deserve to die darn it! I never knew most of Disney's staff was drafted in the war. The fact they were even able to stay afloat during that time is a miracle. Thanks for the fun read!

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