AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Bambi
Director: David D. Hand () (Supv dir)
Release Date:   21 Aug 1942
Premiere Information:   World premiere in London: 9 Aug 1942; New York opening: 13 Aug 1942; Salt Lake City, UT opening: 14 Aug 1942
Duration (in mins):   69-70
Duration (in feet):   6,259
Duration (in reels):   7
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Cast:   Peter Behn (Voice of young Thumper)  
    Hardie Albright (Voice of older Bambi)  
    Ann Gillis (Voice of older Faline)  
    Thelma Hubbard (Voice of girl bunny, quail mother and female pheasant)  
    Sterling Holloway (Voice of older Flower)  
    Will Wright (Voice of Friend Owl)  
    Marion Darlington (Bird calls)  
    Jane Randolph (Ice skating model for Bambi)  
    Donna Atwood (Ice skating model for Thumper)  

Summary: One April morning, the animal inhabitants of the forest welcome a new fawn, the son of the Great Prince of the Forest. Especially interested in Bambi, the new arrival, is young rabbit Thumper, who watches the fawn take his first awkward steps. Later, Thumper accompanies Bambi on a walk, teaching him how to say "bird" and introducing him to the beauties of the wilderness. While learning to say "flower," Bambi is confused when a young skunk emerges from a patch of blossoms and assumes he is being named, but the skunk is pleased by his new moniker. Bambi and his mother lead an idyllic life, cuddling to ward off April showers and enjoying the protection of the forest. One day, Bambi's mother takes him to the meadow to graze, but warns him that he must be careful as the meadow is without sufficient cover. Bambi and Thumper play and eat clover, although Bambi is overcome with shyness upon meeting a pretty little girl fawn named Faline. The Great Prince then walks through the meadow, and Bambi is awed by his father's majestic bearing. The Great Prince senses danger, however, and helps Bambi and his mother reach the forest as a gunshot echoes through the meadow. Bambi is mystified by the occurrence, and his mother explains that "Man was in the forest." Later, in the winter, Thumper and a clumsy Bambi ice skate on a pond covered with "stiff water." The season is harsh, however, and Bambi's mother diligently forages for food for her hungry son. Soon the grass begins to grow again, and Bambi and his mother return to the meadow to graze, but there, Bambi's mother becomes alarmed and orders him to run. Bambi races ahead as gunshots ring out, and upon reaching the thicket, is terrified to realize that he is alone. The Great Prince arrives and tells the grieving fawn that his mother cannot be with him anymore, then urges his son to follow him. Later, Spring comes again to the forest, and the adolescent Bambi, Thumper and Flower are scornful of the silly antics of the birds. Friend Owl warns them that all animals become "twitterpated" during the Spring, and soon his words are proven true as a pretty girl skunk and a lovely little bunny mesmerize Flower and Thumper. Left on his own, the disgruntled Bambi is drinking from the stream when he once again meets Faline. Faline flirtatiously licks Bambi, and the young couple chase each other and play. Bambi is challenged by another young buck but triumphs in battle, and soon is gamboling across the meadow with Faline. Later, Bambi is disturbed by the sound of hunting horns, and the Great Prince warns him that Man has returned in great numbers, and that they must retreat deep into the forest. Faline is separated from Bambi during the confusion, but when she is cornered by a pack of dogs, Bambi rushes to rescue her. Faline escapes from the dogs, but Bambi is shot as he jumps across a ravine. He falls unconscious as a fire, sparked by the hunters' campfire, begins to spread, but the Great Prince arrives and urges Bambi to flee. The animals dash through the forest as the fire races along behind them, but eventually the Great Prince and Bambi reach safety, and Bambi is reunited with Faline. More time passes as new growth appears in the burned-out areas, and one day, Flower and Thumper, who have families of their own, proudly watch as Faline introduce her twin fawns to the other forest animals. Bambi, who is standing with his father, oversees the gathering, then takes his father's place as the Prince of the Forest. 

Production Company: Walt Disney Productions  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: David D. Hand (Supv dir)
  Perce Pearce (Story dir)
  James Algar (Seq dir)
  Bill Roberts (Seq dir)
  Norman Wright (Seq dir)
  Sam Armstrong (Seq dir)
  Paul Satterfield (Seq dir)
  Graham Heid (Seq dir)
  Jack Atwood (Asst dir)
  Mike Holoboff (Asst dir)
  Bob Ogle (Asst dir)
Producer: Walt Disney (Pres)
Writer: Larry Morey (Story adpt)
  George Stallings (Story dev)
  Melvin Shaw (Story dev)
  Carl Fallberg (Story dev)
  Chuck Couch (Story dev)
  Ralph Wright (Story dev)
Art Direction: Thomas H. Codrick (Art dir)
  Robert C. Cormack (Art dir)
  Al Zinnen (Art dir)
  McLaren Stewart (Art dir)
  Lloyd Harting (Art dir)
  David Hilberman (Art dir)
  John Hubley (Art dir)
  Dick Kelsey (Art dir)
Music: Frank Churchill (Mus)
  Edward Plumb (Mus)
  Alexander Steinert (Cond)
  Charles Wolcott (Orch)
  Paul J. Smith (Orch)
  Charles Henderson (Choral arr)
Production Misc: Maurice Day (Research artist)
  Dee Worth (Secy)
  Vi Zimmerman (Secy)
Animation: Merle T. Cox (Backgrounds)
  Tyrus Wong (Backgrounds)
  W. Richard Anthony (Backgrounds)
  Art Riley (Backgrounds)
  Stan Spohn (Backgrounds)
  Robert McIntosh (Backgrounds)
  Ray Huffine (Backgrounds)
  Travis Johnson (Backgrounds)
  Ed Levitt (Backgrounds)
  Joe Stahley (Backgrounds)
  Franklin Thomas (Supv anim)
  Milton Kahl (Supv anim)
  Eric Larson (Supv anim)
  Oliver M. Johnston Jr. (Supv anim)
  Fraser Davis (Anim)
  Preston Blair (Anim)
  Bill Justice (Anim)
  John Bradbury (Anim)
  Don Lusk (Anim)
  Bernard Garbutt (Anim)
  Retta Scott (Anim)
  Joshua Meador (Anim)
  Kenneth Hultgren (Anim)
  Phil Duncan (Anim)
  Kenneth O'Brien (Anim)
  George Rowley (Anim)
  Louis Schmitt (Anim)
  Art Palmer (Anim)
  Art Elliott (Anim)
  Harry Hamsel (Anim)
  Fred Madison (Anim)
  Lynn Karp (Anim)
  George Goepper (Anim)
  Paul Busch (Anim)
  Murray McClellan (Anim)
  Robert W. Youngquist (Anim)
  Lars Calonius (Anim)
  Harvey Toombs (Anim)
  John McManus (Anim)
  Dan MacManus (Anim)
  Don Tobin (Anim)
  Joseph Gayek (Anim)
  Ugo D'Orsi (Anim)
  Jim Will (Anim)
  Cornett Wood (Anim)
  John Reed (Anim)
  Don Towsley (Anim)
  Edwin Aardal (Anim)
  Hazel Sewell (Anim)
  Karl Van Leuven (Anim)
  Noel Tucker (Anim)
  J. S. Escalante (Anim)
  Sandy Strother (Anim)
  Jerome Brown (Anim)
  Russell Dyson (Anim)
  M. James (Anim)
  John Harbaugh (Anim)
  Vernon G. Witt (Anim)
  Brad Case (Anim)
  Franklin Grundeen (Anim)
  James Moore (Anim)
  Paul Fitzpatrick (Anim)
  Cy Young (Anim)
  Paul B. Kossoff (Anim)
  Glenn Scott (Layout)
  Curtiss D. Perkins (Layout)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Love Is a Song," lyrics by Larry Morey, music by Frank Churchill, sung by Donald Novis; "Little April Shower," "Let's Sing a Gay Little Spring Song" and "Looking for Romance (I Bring You a Song)," lyrics by Larry Morey, music by Frank Churchill.
Composer: Frank Churchill
  Larry Morey
Source Text: Based on the book Bambi: Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde by Felix Salten (Berlin, 1923).
Authors: Felix Salten

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Walt Disney Productions 28/2/1942 dd/mm/yyyy LP12270

PCA NO: 5013
Physical Properties: col: Technicolor
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Children's works
  Children's works
  Children's works
Sub-Genre: with songs
  Animation
  Animal
 
Subjects (Major): Animal culture
  Deer
  Forest fires
  Hunting
  Maturation
  Romance
 
Subjects (Minor): Death and dying
  Dogs
  Family relationships
  Fights
  Flowers
  Friendship
  Gunshot wounds
  Ice skaters and ice skating
  Owls
  Rabbits and hares
  Rainstorms
  Rescues
  Self-sacrifice
  Shyness
  Skunks
  Snow

Note: Felix Salten's novel first appeared as a serial in Die Neve Freie Presse in 1922. After the opening credits of this film, an onscreen dedication reads: "To Sidney A. Franklin, our sincere appreciation for his inspiring collaboration." According to the HR review, producer Franklin originally bought the rights to Felix Salten's novel in the mid-1930s, and although he "planned to make it himself, [Franklin] surrendered the rights to Disney in the belief his medium would do greater justice to the yarn." A 19 Jul 1942 NYT article reported that Disney had purchased the rights from Franklin in Apr 1937, and modern sources assert that Franklin also agreed to serve as an artistic consultant on the picture. Several contemporary sources report that Bambi began pre-production in 1936 and was intended to be the studio's second feature-length animated release after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938). Producer Walt Disney's desire to make the film look as realistic as possible, as well as intermittent labor problems at the studio and economic difficulties, however, prolonged production significantly, and Pinocchio became the second release. According to an Aug 1938 NYT article, the Maine Development Commission sent two fawns, named Bambi and Faline, to the studio, where the animals were kept as pets while artists studied their movements, growth and behavior. The article noted that as the film was not due to be completed for two more years, the artists could photograph the animals "in all their phases." Other animals, such as skunks Herman and Petunia, squirrels, birds and chipmunks, were kept at the little zoo established at the Disney Studio in Burbank for use by the artists. When Bambi and Faline were fully grown, they were released into nearby Griffith Park, according to a 17 May 1942 NYHT article. Numerous contemporary sources discuss the contributions made by Maurice Day, an artist sent by Disney, in mid-1938, on a lengthy trip to Maine to photograph, sketch and paint scenes of the forest and its inhabitants. Day returned to Maine to study the winter landscape, and his extensive works were used as a reference for the animators. According to the Jul 1942 NYT article, while Day was gone, the studio assigned its "top animators--Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl, Oliver Johnston and Eric Larson--to the forest fable." The article also noted that Disney believed that Bambi "was going to be the toughest animation anybody had ever attempted." One of the problems plaguing the production was how to make the animals look natural while they talked. Modern sources state that the "look" of Bambi was most heavily influenced by the watercolor drawings of background artist Tyrus Wong. According to the film's pressbook, well-known animal artist Rico Lebrun conducted a series of classes for the animators about animal anatomy and motion. More lectures on anatomy and life drawing were conducted by art instructor Don Graham, according to publicity materials for one of the picture's re-issues. In a 1991 article in Funnyworld , animator Jack Kinney stated that he worked on the opening sequence of Bambi early in the film's production but asked to be removed from the project due to friction with story director Perce Pearce. According to the film's pressbook, the models for "Bambi's" and "Thumper's" ice skating were actress Jane Randolph, who had never skated before, and Ice-Capades star Donna Atwood. While the animators were working on various facets of Bambi , the studio finished and released three more features: Fantasia , The Reluctant Dragon and Dumbo (see entries below). [Brief animation of the character Bambi is seen in The Reluctant Dragon , although that clip does not appear in Bambi itself.] The lengthy production of Bambi presented a unique problem, according to the Jul 1942 NYT article, when retakes were needed from young Peter Behn, who provided the voice of "Thumper" as a young rabbit. According to the article, retakes were required several years after the initial recordings by Behn were done, and the sound department was worried that Behn's voice had changed, but "Peter just got in under the wire" and completed the retakes successfully. Modern sources credit the following actors with supplying the voices of the animal characters: Bobby Stewart, Donnie Donagan, and John Sutherland ( Bambi ); Paula Winslowe ( Bambi's mother ); Cammie King ( Faline ); Mary Lansing ( Aunt Ena / Mrs. Possum ); Fred Shields ( The Great Prince of the Forest ); Stanley Alexander ( Flower ); Tim Davis ( Thumper / Flower ); Thelma Boardman ( Mrs. Quail ); Margaret Lee ( Mrs. Rabbit ); Otis Harlan, Jeanne Christy, Janet Chapman, Bobette Audrey, Jack Horner, Francesca Santoro, Babs Nelson, Sandra Lee Richards, Dolyn Bramston Cook and Elouise Wohlwend. A 30 Apr 1942 LADN article on the film reported that Disney previewed a rough cut of the picture for friends and "because it was too long, eliminated 1,000 feet of it." According to a 1990 Los Angeles magazine interview with supervising animator Oliver "Ollie" M. Johnston, Jr., Bambi was trimmed from 9,000 feet to 6,200 feet because of "the initial lack of success on Fantasia , which the studio had put into limited release in 1940. According to HR news items, the picture was scheduled to have its world premiere at New York City's Radio City Music Hall on 30 Jul 1942, but the premiere was delayed due to the lengthy run of the M-G-M film Mrs. Miniver . The film's advertising campaign included the promotion of a song entitled "Twitterpated," composed by Helen Bliss, Robert Sour and Henry Manners, which was based on the lecture "Friend Owl" delivers about the amorous effects of Spring. The trio also wrote "Thumper Song" for publicity of the picture. Modern sources report that the film, which cost over $2,000,000 to produce, did not turn a profit during its initial release, largely because the European market was inaccessible during World War II. It was not until the picture's first theatrical re-release, in 1947, that it began to recoup its production costs. The film proved to be a great success in each of its subsequent theatrical re-issues and its releases on home video. In a 1996 "making of" documentary that accompanied one of the picture's releases on home video, animator Johnston asserts that Bambi was Disney's favorite feature among the studio's output, largely because of its realism. Bambi was one of the last films to feature new songs composed by longtime Disney collaborator Frank Churchill, who committed suicide in May 1942. The picture received Academy Award nominations for Best Song for Churchill and Larry Morey's "Love Is a Song," Best Sound Recording and Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. In 1947, the film won a Golden Globe special award for "Furthering the Influence of the Screen" for its ground-breaking Hindustani version. The film also was to be dubbed into Russian, according to a Dec 1943 HR news item, with "new lyrics, the narration and dialogue" prepared by Russian-born character actor Leonid Kinskey. HR news items noted that the film was dubbed into French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese and Italian, with plans to do additional dubbing into Dutch, Urdu, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and Slovak. According to an Apr 1981 LAT article, the Spanish-language version of Bambi was scheduled for a theatrical re-release. A Nov 1994 HR news item noted that the picture had been dubbed into Arapaho to help encourage "Arapaho children to learn and preserve their language." The picture remains somewhat controversial due to the death of Bambi's mother, which some critics claim is too traumatic for young viewers, and due to objections from hunters, who assert that the film presents an unfair and biased view of hunting. An Aug 1942 HR news item noted that while most critics praised the film, a "big blast" had come from "the professioanl hunters who are attacking Bambi for casting reflections on their sport." The MPHPD review also raised the issue, commenting, "some fathers are going to have a hard time explaining their yearly hunting trips." According to a modern source, early screenplay drafts included the shooting of "Friend Hare," the prototype of "Thumper," by hunters, and the discovery by "Bambi" and his father of a hunter's dead body after the forest fire. In a 15 Jun 1948 HR news item, German author Eugion Prandi announced his intention to file suit against the Disney Studio, which, he claimed, had based Bambi on his 1932 novel The Hind rather than on Salten's book. The outcome of Prandi's claim is not known. Although several contemporary sources reported that Disney intended to produce a sequel to the film, based on Salten's book Bambi's Children , that picture was not made. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   30 May 1942.   
Box Office   25 Aug 1975.   
Daily Variety   26 May 42   p. 3, 7
Film Daily   6 May 41   p. 8.
Film Daily   27 May 42   p. 8.
Funnyworld   Fall 1979.   
Hollywood Citizen-News   11 Mar 1948.   
Hollywood Reporter   31 Jul 40   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Nov 40   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Jul 41   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Aug 41   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Feb 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Apr 42   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   7 May 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   15 May 42   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   26 May 42   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Jun 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Jun 42   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Aug 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Aug 42   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jan 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Dec 43   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jul 46   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Aug 46   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Mar 47   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   9 May 47   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Jun 47   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Nov 47   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Nov 47   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Dec 47   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jun 48   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   26 May 1966.   
Hollywood Reporter   4 Nov 1994.   
Los Angeles Daily News   30 Apr 1942.   
Los Angeles   Sep 1990.   
Los Angeles Times   30 Nov 1947.   
Los Angeles Times   12 Apr 1981.   
Los Angeles Times   15 Jul 1988.   
Motion Picture Daily   26 May 1942.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   30 May 42   pp. 685-86.
Natural History   1 Jun 93   p. 6, 8, 10-12.
New York Herald Tribune   17 May 1942.   
New York Times   14 Aug 1938.   
New York Times   29 Jan 1939.   
New York Times   26 Oct 1941.   
New York Times   24 May 1942.   
New York Times   19 Jul 1942.   
New York Times   14 Aug 42   p. 13.
PM (Journal)   12 Jul 42   pp. 19-21.
PM (Journal)   14 Aug 42   p. 23.
Variety   27 May 42   p. 8.

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