Just last month, Walt Disney Records celebrated the 75th anniversary of Fantasia by releasing a new addition to the label’s Legacy Collection with a 4-CD reissue of the original soundtrack to that film. However, Fantasia is not the only Disney classic to turn 75 this year. 1940 was a pretty good year for the animation studio, as the classic Pinocchio also saw release during those twelve months. On February 10, 2015 (almost to the day the film premiered three-quarters of a century ago: February 7, 1940), Walt Disney Records will release The Legacy Collection – Pinocchio, a 2-CD expanded reissue of the original soundtrack.
After the smash success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Walt Disney was in search of a follow-up film. Initially, he thought it was going to be Bambi, but production problems were hampering that movie. That necessitated moving up another animated feature he had in development: Pinocchio. Based upon the 1883 Italian children’s book The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, it tells the tale of wood-carver Geppetto and puppet he makes named Pinocchio. Brought to life by the Blue Fairy, Pinocchio can become a real boy if he can prove himself to be “brave, truthful and unselfish.” He has many misadventures on his quest including encounters with a rather sly fox named Honest John and Monstro the giant whale, but is aided by traveling companion/conscience Jiminy Cricket.
Pinocchio’s production took around two years and boasted a large cast of creators including seven directors and seven screenwriters. The songs were written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington, with the musical score composed by Harline and Paul Smith, who had collaborated together on Snow White. In contrast with that picture, Walt Disney decided that he wanted celebrities to voice characters in the Pinocchio. Therefore, Cliff Edwards was brought in to play Jiminy Cricket. Nicknamed “Ukelele Ike,” Edwards had appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway and in numerous MGM and Warner Bros. films. During the late 1920s, he had scored two pop hits including his introductory recording of “Singin’ in the Rain.” For Pinocchio, he got to perform that film’s classic, signature song which opens the movie: “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
Upon its release in February of 1940 by RKO Radio Pictures, Pinocchio, like Fantasia later that year, was not a big success. Perhaps due to World War II, it would take until a re-release in 1946 for the film to actually become profitable. The critics recognized Pinocchio’s artistic achievement, though, and it garnered two Oscars: one for the musical score and one for “When You Wish Upon a Star.” It became the first animated film to win a competitive Oscar. Over the years, the stature of the film has grown. It was named to the National Film Registry and in 2011, Time proclaimed it the best animated film of all time. “When You Wish Upon a Star” became the opening theme for Disney’s television anthology series in the ‘50s and ‘60s and is the music behind their opening movie logo. Additionally, It was ranked No. 7 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Songs in Film History list. The characters themselves are still prominent parts of the Disney experience, appearing throughout the theme parks; Jiminy Cricket has been featured prominently in various, mostly educational, Disney projects over the years.
Pinocchio did not have a proper soundtrack release in 1940. Six of the songs were issued across three 78s by Victor. The 78s were labeled as “recorded from the original soundtrack.” Walt Disney Records has asserted that this is the first time the term “original soundtrack” was used to describe a recording of music from a motion picture. A full length soundtrack album for the film was not released until 1956 on Disneyland Records. An expanded version was issued on CD in 1992 which has become the basis for all subsequent reissues. Cliff Edwards also recorded several of the songs for Decca, including ones which were cut from the film.
Walt Disney Records’ new Legacy Collection edition presents the previously-issued 25-track sequence of the original soundtrack which has been newly remastered on Disc 1. Disc 2 contains eight bonus tracks: three “Lost Chords” – modern recordings of songs cut from the score – and a selection of five songs by Cliff Edwards that he performed as Jiminy Cricket following Pinocchio. Several more songs in this vein (such as “Anyone for Exploring”) exist but have not been included. This Legacy Collection volume is packaged in the series’ usual hardback digipak containing a booklet with original concept art.
Despite not having initial commercial success with his studio’s animated films, 1940 would turn out to be a very good year for Walt Disney as both features became classics. The first of these, Pinocchio, is argued by some as perhaps the greatest animated film of all time. “When You Wish Upon a Star” is indeed one of the greatest songs ever written. If you would like to revisit this classic soundtrack in newly expanded form, it’s available tomorrow, February 10, and you may order it below!
- When You Wish Upon a Star
- Little Wooden Head
- Clock Sequence
- Kitten Theme
- The Blue Fairy
- Give a Little Whistle
- Old Gepetto
- Off to School
- Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor’s Life for Me)
- So Sorry
- I’ve Got No Strings
- Sinister Stromboli
- Sad Reunion
- Lesson in Lies
- Turn on the Old Music Box
- Coach to Pleasure Island
- Angry Cricket
- Message from the Blue Fairy
- To the Rescue
- Deep Ripples
- Desolation Theme
- Monstro Awakes
- Whale Chase
- A Real Boy
- No Strings
- As I Was Sayin’ to the Duchess
- Rolling Along to Pleasure Island
- You (Are a Human Animal)
- Mickey Mouse Club Book Song
- I’m No Fool (On a Bike)
- Safety First/I’m No Fool (In Water)
- Stop, Look and Listen/I’m No Fool (As a Pedestrian)
CD 1, Tracks 1-25 originally released in this sequence on Walt Disney’s Pinocchio (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Walt Disney Records 60485-2, 1992
CD 2, Tracks 1-3 previously unreleased
CD 2, Tracks 4-6 from Walt Disney’s Jiminy Cricket Sings 5 Mickey Mouse Club Songs, Walt Disney Productions Disney Big Record DBR-56, 1955
CD 2, Tracks 7-8 from Disneyland Records LG-716, 1960