Ilene Woods suffered from Alzheimer's disease in the later years of her life. During this time, she did not even remember that she had played Cinderella, but nurses claimed that she was very much comforted by the song "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes".
Ilene 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 telling her.
Lucifer was modeled after animator Ward Kimball's cat, a plump, six-toed calico named Feetsy. To prepare for "Cinderella" Kimball studied dozens of cats but had trouble coming up with an effective design for the villainous feline. One day Walt Disney visited the animator's home to talk shop, and Feetsy persisted in brushing against Walt's legs throughout the conversation. Walt, who was not fond of cats, finally declared, "For gosh sakes, Kimball, there's your Lucifer right here!"
Excluding the initial prologue explaining how the stepmother came into Cinderella's life and the closing wedding scene, the main story of the film takes place over approximately a 24-hour period. Cinderella starts her day with her chores, the prince's ball is that evening and she successfully tries on the lost slipper the following morning.
Walt Disney had not had a huge hit since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). At the time, his studio, Walt Disney Productions, was over $4 million in debt and was on the verge of bankruptcy. Walt Disney and his animators turned back to feature film production in 1948 after producing a string of package films with the idea of adapting Charles Perrault's "Cendrillon" into a motion picture. The production of this film was regarded as a major gamble on Disney's part. At a cost of nearly $3,000,000, Disney insiders claimed that if this movie had failed at the box office, it would have been the end of the Walt Disney Studios. Through faith, hard work, and a bit of luck, everyone associated with the film's production were determined to create Cinderella (1950) a great film that would stand the test of time for all time. As a result, it was a spectacular hit, becoming the greatest critical and commercial hit for the studio since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as well as its first commercial hit since Song of the South (1946), and helped reverse the studio's fortunes. Cinderella received overwhelming critical acclaim and many international film honors, including three Academy Award nominations. The film also became the third highest grossing film of 1950, behind King Solomon's Mines (1950) and the Academy Award-winning All About Eve (1950), respectively. The profits from its 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. Much like Cinderella herself, the Walt Disney Studios had its own rags to riches story, which eventually propelled them back to greatness and prominence after years of misfortune.
When Walt Disney had the resources to return to full-length animation in the late 1940s after the war, he was indecisive over whether they should release Cinderella (1950) or Alice in Wonderland (1951) first and finally decided to have two animation crews working on each film compete with each other to see not only which would finish first but also which did the best job. As it turned out, "Cinderella" came first, being released in 1950, while "Alice" was not released until the following year.
Cinderella loses a shoe three times in the film: first, when she delivers the breakfast trays (causing Lucifer to look under the wrong cup), second, when she is running away from the ball, and lastly, on her wedding day running down the steps.
According to Marc Davis, one of the directing animators of Cinderella (1950), at least 90% of the movie was done in live action model before animation. Dancer Ward Ellis was the live action model for Prince Charming. Cinderella's carriage is actually a live-action model painted white with black lines; this was the first time this technique had actually been used.
While it could be just a coincidence, it may not be, three of the lady mice in the dress making scene (around when Jaq says "Poor Cinderelly") are in green, pink, and blue dresses-not quite the exact same colors as the Three Good Fairies in Sleeping Beauty (1959), which would be released nine years later. Also, Verna Felton voices fairy godmothers for both films. In Sleeping Beauty, she is Flora, the red member of the team.
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 and playing games, thus establishing the Prince as an animal lover instead of a killer. The elements of the Prince's original character development would later be incorporated in the characterization of Kit (a.k.a. Prince Charming) in Walt Disney Pictures' 2015 live-action remake Cinderella (2015).
Was the first Disney film to have its songs published and copyrighted by the newly created Walt Disney Music Company. Before movie soundtracks became merchandisable, 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.
The royal proclamation on the castle gate wall reads: "All loyal subjects of his Imperial Majesty are hereby notified by royal proclamation that in regard to a certain glass slipper, it is upon this day decreed that a quest be instituted throughout the length and breadth of our domain. The sole and express purpose of said quest is as follows to wit: that every single maiden in our beloved Kingdom shall try upon her foot this aforementioned slipper of glass, and should one be found whose foot shall properly fit said slipper, such maiden will be acclaimed the subject of this search and the one and only true love of his Royal Highness, our noble Prince. And said Royal Highness will humbly request the hand of said maiden in marriage to rule with him over all the land as Royal Princess and future Queen."
Disney restored and re-mastered the movie for its 4 October 2005 DVD release as the sixth installment of Disney's Platinum Edition series. According to the Studio Briefing, Disney sold 3.2 million copies in its first week and earned over $64 million in sales.
When auditioning for the role of Prince Charming, Mike Douglas was asked where he was from. When he replied, in his Illinois accent, that he was from Chicago he was told that he wasn't going to do the speaking role and so William Phipps was cast as Prince Charming while Douglas sang for the role.
The first fully-developed, feature-length film the studio released after wartime cutbacks forced them to release several "package films" (Melody Time (1948), Fun and Fancy Free (1947), et al). The success of the animation department depended greatly on its success.
According to Ilene Woods, who did the voice for Cinderella, it was Walt Disney who suggested the layered harmonies in the "Sing, Sweet Nightingale" sequence. She thinks that it might have been the first time that it was attempted (Mitch Miller claimed to have invented the technique during his tenure as A&R man at Columbia Records a few years before 'Cinderella' started production).
The story takes place roughly in June. In the movie, the sun rises slightly before 6:00 AM (in France), as it would within a few weeks of the summer solstice. Also by this time, a pumpkin would have grown to 20-40 pounds.
Dinah Shore and Deanna Durbin were considered for the voice of Cinderella, but after Walt Disney heard demo recordings of the film's score by big band singer Ilene Woods, the relatively unknown Woods (who only had one film credit before 'Cinderella') was cast in the title role.
The song "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" is considered the most memorable of the film. It was written as a novelty song by Al Hoffman, Mack David, and Jerry Livingston in 1948. It became a hit single in 1949, with notable covers by Perry Como, the Fontane Sisters, Jo Stafford, Gordon MacRae, and Dinah Shore.
Earlier drafts of the film included a scene taking place right after Cinderella's departure from the royal ball. She would return home and eavesdrop on her step-family's discussion about the mystery girl from the ball. The scene would depict her amusement with them and their failure to recognize her. Walt Disney reportedly cut the scene because it would make Cinderella look smug and mean-spirited, risking the loss of the audience's sympathy.
Despite the enduring popularity and critical acclaim of the film, Cinderella is among the most controversial of the Disney protagonists. Various reviewers have called her too passive, one-dimensional, bland, colorless, banal, and a bit of a gold-digger who seeks a wealthy man to marry. Others feel that she is upstaged by some of the more intriguing supporting characters. On the other hand, positive views of the character praise her hard-working and strong-willed nature, her patience, her optimism, her perseverance against adversity, her approach to nonviolence when dealing with her cruel and evil step-family, her internal struggle to retain a good character even when hope dwindles, her courage in the face of evil, her design and style, and her role as a fashion icon. She is also compared positively to her predecessor Snow White, since she is actually a more active character and plays a larger role in her own film.
The film is seen as both an end and beginning for different eras of the Disney animation studio. The 1930s and early 1940s produced the most critically acclaimed of the Disney animated films, often groundbreaking and experimental in nature, though several of them were commercial flops. The rest of the 1940s involved the release of cheaper package films, films consisting of several short films combined into one. "Cinderella" was arguably the last product of Disney's "golden age" and was the the first of a new series of lavishly produced full-length feature films. The Disney animated films of the 1950s were in general less artistic and experimental, more commercial in nature. Most of them were box office hits but their critical evaluation often places them below their predecessors. Made on the cusp between the two eras, Cinderella (1950) is representative of both eras.
The live-action model of Cinderella was actress Helene Stanley, though some of the character's styling and mannerism were influenced by voice actress Ilene Woods. Stanley was also the live-action model for Cinderella's stepsister Anastasia Tremaine.
Earlier drafts of the film included an extended fantasy sequence where Cinderella would imagine impossible ways to finish all her chores and would muse what the royal ball would be like. It would include its own song, a work song.
The Prince in the Cinderella story and its adaptations is considered a variation of the Prince Charming stock character. He is the handsome prince who comes to the rescue of the damsel in distress, and marries her in the end.
The clothing of Cinderella in the film has attracted the attention of some fashion and art historians. The dress that the stepsister tear apart is thought to be inspired by the designs of Salvador Dalí and the magical gown is in the then contemporary style of Christian Dior.
Early drafts for the ending of the film involved a reintroduction of Cinderella and Prince Charming at the castle. The Prince would find out that his love interest is a servant girl and not a princess, come to terms with the fact, and embrace her. Walt Disney reportedly decided to scrap the scene for being overlong and not particularly engaging.
The three siblings, Cinderella, Anastasia, and Drizella have been described as representing the "Blonde, Brunette, Redhead" trope, a relatively common depiction of female trios. Cinderella is depicted as blonde or strawberry blonde, Drizella is a brunette, and Anastasia is a redhead.
Despite being labelled as the typical damsel-in-distress, Cinderella has shown rebellion and aggression in her third film, Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time (2007). She is also the first classical Disney Princess to develop from being "reactive" to "proactive", as proven to both A Twist in Time and the live-action remake Cinderella (2015).
The characters of the wicked stepsisters are unnamed in most of the variations of the Cinderella tale, and they seem to have no individual traits. The Disney version names them Anastasia and Drizella Tremaine and gives them different looks.
This was not the first Disney version of Cinderella. During his early years, producing the Laugh-O-Gram series (1921-1923), Walt Disney created several short films based on fairy tales. One of them was "Cinderella" (1922).
One of the criticisms of the film is that male lead Prince Charming lacks screen time and character development. Earlier drafts of the screenplay actually gave him both screen time and character development but were scrapped.
The film was the first of a minor franchise which includes two sequels, a live-action adaptation, and multiple associated material and releases. The character Cinderella is also prominently featured in the Disney Princess franchise.
Eleanor Audley, the voice and live action model of Lady Tremaine, would later return back to the Walt Disney Studios to provide the voice and live action model reference of another villain, who is in another league of the ultimate Disney villain: Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (1959).
The songwriters of the film were members of the Tin Pan Alley, a collective name for New York City-based music publishers and songwriters. The informal group was based in West 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. Some of the leaders of the music industry established offices there in the 1880s and the area continued to serve as an industry landmark to the 1950s.
Besides this film, the characters from Disney's Cinderella have been adapted into Disney Comics. Both in stories starring them and using the film's setting, and in crossovers with other characters. The most success has been enjoyed by Gus and Jaq. Besides Cinderella-related stories, they were long-term supporting characters in the "Grandma Duck" series of the 1950s. The star was Grandma Duck, Donald Duck's paternal grandmother who runs her own farm. Gus and Jaq have also appeared in Grandma Duck stories of later decades, though less frequently.
In the film, when Cinderella's ball gown is produced, the dress appears sparkling silver. For its 55th Anniversary 2-Disc Platinum Edition DVD release in 2005, however, most of the merchandise published her ball gown in a bright blue shade (most likely to make her dress seem more like a ball gown as opposed to a traditional white wedding dress - which the mistake is shown in the storybook ending, when her wedding dress changed into her ball gown). In the Kingdom Hearts video game series, the ball gown is correctly colored to silver.
Gus is not the only relatively prominent Disney character of that name. He is preceded by Gus Goose, Donald Duck's cousin who appears as a supporting cast member in various comic book series since the 1930s. There is also Gremlin Gus, who briefly had his own comic book series in the 1940s and has been revived in Disney's video games. Finally, there is Gus Griswald, a co-star in the television series Recess (1997).
According to Les Harding in his book "They Knew Marilyn Monroe", a popular legend arose that Marilyn Monroe was the physical model for Cinderella. It seemed that someone within the Disney organization heard a critic say that Cinderella was too voluptuous. This was in 1954, and the reigning queen of voluptuousness was Marilyn Monroe. The fact that Monroe was not connected to the Walt Disney Productions and was all but unknown in 1949 when the film was in production, did not stop the rumormongers. An actress named Helene Stanley was the actual model for Cinderella.
The name of the first of the eligible young ladies introduced to the Prince at the ball is given in the English subtitles and elsewhere as "Frederica Janie de la Fontaine". What the herald is actually saying sounds more like "Frederica Eugenie" - a more suitable name for a young lady of good family.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In an abandoned alternate ending, after the Grand 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 (2010).