Edit
Dumbo (1941) Poster

(1941)

Trivia

Jump to: Spoilers (2)
Initially Walt Disney was uninterested in making this movie. To get him interested, story men Joe Grant and Dick Huemer wrote up the film as installments which they left on Walt's desk every morning. Finally, he ran into the story department saying, "This is great! What happens next?"
This was Walt Disney's favorite film made by his studios (source: DVD extras).
In December 1941, Time magazine planned to have "Dumbo" on its cover to commemorate its success, but it was dropped due to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Cels for "Dumbo" are the rarest in the industry. The animators, after the scene was safely "in the can", would strew the used cels in the corridors and go sliding on them. In addition the gray paint (used for so many of the elephant skins) would "pop" when the cel was flexed. Many irreplaceable cels were destroyed this way.
The first Walt Disney animated feature (and still one of the very few) to be set in America.
A very tightly budgeted, scripted, and produced film, because Walt Disney needed the film to bring in much-needed revenue after the expensive failures of Pinocchio (1940) and Fantasia (1940). Final negative cost of Dumbo was $813,000 (making it the least expensive of all Disney's animated features), and it grossed over $2.5 million in its original release (more than Pinocchio's and Fantasia's original grosses combined).
The first Walt Disney movie for Sterling Holloway (the Stork) and Verna Felton (the Elephant Matriarch). Both would become regulars in Disney animated films for the next thirty-five years.
While trying to comfort Dumbo, Timothy says, "Lots of people with big ears are famous!" According to animation historian John Canemaker on the 2001 DVD release commentary, the line was recognized by audiences of 1941 as a reference to Clark Gable. The line was also featured in the original theatrical trailer.
During production there was a long and bitter animators strike, in which half of the studio's staff walked out. Some of the strikers are caricatured as the clowns who go to "hit the big boss for a raise".
Timothy Mouse is a replacement for the robin from the original novel. The use of a mouse in an in-joke because folklore says that elephants are afraid of mice.
One of Leonard Maltin's favorite films. He particularly considers the Pink Elephant sequence to be the most original and interesting sequence that he has ever seen put on film.
"Dumbo" was the first Walt Disney Animated Classic to be released on videocassette. Its first video release was in 1981 for rental only, and put on sale in the summer of 1982. It was then repackaged in 1985 and 1989 and again in 1994. Then it was first released on DVD in 2001 and again in 2006, and the newest release in 2011. Dumbo has never gone out of print, thus considered the longest Disney animated feature on video to be in print since it came out.
Is portrayed as "The saddest Film In Disney History"
Mrs. Jumbo (Dumbo's mother) only speaks once when she says Dumbo's original name.
"Dumbo" and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) are the only classic Walt Disney films to use watercolored backgrounds (they were used in this film because they were cheaper than the gouache and oils used for Pinocchio (1940) and Bambi (1942)) and the last time they were used until Fantasia 2000 (1999).
The name of the circus (seen on a sign as the train leaves the winter headquarters) is WDP Circus (Walt Disney Productions).
There's a reference to "The Little Engine That Could". While Casey Jr. is trying to get up a hill, the train sounds like it's talking. It says "I think I can, I think I can." Then when the train gets up the hill and starts going faster, it changes to, "I thought I could, I thought I could."
HIDDEN MICKEY: When the drunken Timothy is sliding down the staircase-shaped bubble Dumbo has blown, his laugh is actually that of Mickey Mouse. Also, when Timothy coughs on Jim Crow's cigar smoke, that cough is also that of Mickey (it was specifically heard in both Giantland (1933) and Two-Gun Mickey (1934)).
Walt Disney's distributor, RKO Radio Pictures, had qualms about releasing this 64-minute feature as a major motion picture. They tried to persuade Disney to either cut it to short-subject length, extend it to at least 70 minutes, or have it released as a B picture. Disney stood his ground, and the film was released as an A picture as Disney intended.
Mrs. Jumbo picks up Dumbo with her trunk. In real life, elephants will push their babies because they grow too heavy, they will occasionally carry them by their trunks when they are newborns.
9 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
A sequel direct to video/DVD titled Dumbo 2 was announced back in the early 2000s. With a story that takes place after the original involving Dumbo and a group of young circus animals to get separated from the WDP Circus and try to find their way back to the circus. This proposed idea appeared to have been canceled with no more than storyboards and animated drawing sheets being made during preproduction.
Joe Grant and Dick Huemer changed Dumbo's mother's name from "Mother Ella" to "Mrs. Jumbo" as a reference to the famed Barnum & Bailey circus pachyderm.
During the song "Look Out For Mister Stork" the lyrics state, "Remember those quintuplets and the woman in the shoe." The latter is of course in reference to the classic nursery rhyme "The Old Woman In The Shoe". The former is a reference to The Dionne Quintuplets from North Bay, Ontario, Canada. The Dionne Sisters were well-known for having been the first complete set of quintuplets to survive birth, where many multiple-child births of the time were more fatal. The Dionnes were often exploited to the public before finally being reunited with their family.
Dumbo's mother's eyes are blue but when she goes "rogue" after the kids attack Dumbo her eyes are blood-red.
The film was originally planned as a 30-minute featurette before Walt Disney assigned one of his producers, Ben Sharpsteen, to expand the idea into a feature.
The top film that has been re-released on DVD and VHS in movie history.
7 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Casey Junior is based on the story "The Little Engine That Could".
7 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The vocals for the song "Baby Mine" were performed by Betty Noyes, the singer who dubbed two of Debbie Reynolds' songs in Singin' in the Rain (1952).
The "Casey Junior" segment was originally much longer. It was drawn and animated, then heavily edited, cutting several minutes from its run time. The full length segment can be seen on Disney's The Reluctant Dragon (1941) DVD.
This is the first Disney animated feature film to be set in the present time of its release.
6 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Dumbo is the first protagonist in a Disney animated feature film to have no spoken dialogue.
6 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Entered into the 1947 Cannes Film Festival.
There is some controversy about the crows of the film, who are meant to represent African Americans. While the association of African Americans and crows, both black, predates the film, there are still film historians like Richard Schickel who pointed it out as offensive and/or racist. But there are those who find their portrayals positive and progressive. Most of the crows were played by African American actors in an era which there was limited casting potential for them, and the crows are actually among the few friendly and intelligent characters in the film.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
One of the crows calls Timothy Mouse "brother rat." This is the traditional name for cadets at Virginia Military Institute, an group which adopted the name for themselves in the 1850's after rich folk used it as a pejorative against them, describing their shabby, "ratty" uniforms. (In 1941, it had also been the title of two recent movies, Brother Rat (1938), and its sequel, Brother Rat and a Baby (1940), both starring Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman.)
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Jim Crow's name derive from a minstrel show character of the same name. He was created by Thomas D. Rice (1808-1860) in the 1830s. The character as originally depicted was dressed in rags, battered hat and torn shoes. Rice blackened his face and hands and impersonated a very nimble and irreverently witty African American field hand. Crow was a popular and influential character, though later derivative characters and terms have made his legacy controversial.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
This is the only known voice acting role for Edward Brophy (1895-1960), who plays Timothy Q. Mouse. The actor is otherwise known for roles in live-action films. Brophy was a prolific character actor whose career stretched from the 1920s to the late 1950s.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
This is John Lasseter's favorite movie.
5 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The film features a stork delivering babies. The origin of the folklore belief is uncertain but widespread. The story is elaborated in German traditional accounts. "...storks found babies in caves or marshes and brought them to households in a basket on their backs or held in their beaks. These caves contained adebarsteine or "stork stones". The babies would then be given to the mother or dropped down the chimney. Households would notify when they wanted children by placing sweets for the stork on the window sill."
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The film contrasts wildly with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937), "Pinocchio" (1940) and "Fantasia" (1940). Due to Walt Disney's instructions, supervising director Ben Sharpsteen worked to simplify production and keep it inexpensive. The film lacks the lavish detail of its predecessors, the character designs are simpler, the background paintings are less detailed, and the character animation reused cels.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The lullaby "Baby Mine" from this film has become one of Disney's best remembered and regarded songs. It has been covered by several artists over the years, often with commercial success. The American Film Institute has included it in a list of the 100 best film songs.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The song "Pink Elephants on Parade" from this film has received several covers by artists, such as Sun Ra.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Dumbo eventually grossed $1.6 million during its original release. While Dumbo was the 4th Disney animated feature film, it was only the 2nd to turn up a profit. The only previous one to have done so was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937).
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In 2001, a sequel of Dumbo (1941), called "Dumbo II", was announced. It was to be directed by Robert C. Ramirez, who had previously co-directed Joseph: King of Dreams (2000). Dumbo was to include a relatively large cast of new characters. The project was in development for years, but in 2006 John Lasseter terminated plans for this film and other sequels to Disney's classic films.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The original Dumbo story, that the film is based on, was created for a toy storytelling display device called Roll-A-Book. It involved moving pictures and accompanying text to tell the story. In Dumbo's case it only had eight drawings and just a few lines of text.
3 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Joseph Stilwell (1883-1946), a United States Army general, mentioned in his memoirs that viewing "Dumbo" in 1941 was one of his happier moments. The film "1941" (1979) , which is set in that year, depicts Stillwell attending a showing of Dumbo. Scenes from "Dumbo" are seen in the other film.
3 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
This was the last Disney animated feature film released before the entry of the United States in World War II.
3 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In an article on Dumbo (1941), writer Martin Markstein (1947-2012) pointed that the premise of the film strongly resembles another children's story of the same era. The one it resembles is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. In both cases, the stories are about an innocent child cruelly ridiculed for a physical deformity (huge ears, red nose), who achieved extraordinary success not in spite of but because of that attribute.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
As mentioned in the film, Dumbo's real name is Jumbo Jr., implying his father was named "Jumbo". While his mother is featured prominently, his father is otherwise unseen and unheard of.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
While the film won an Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, its key song "Baby Mine" failed to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It lost to the song "The Last Time I Saw Paris" from the film "Lady Be Good" (1941). Controversially, the winner was not actually an original song, since it had been previously performed in 1940.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Dumbo and his supporting cast were adapted to the Disney comics in 1941. While infrequently starring in solo stories, Dumbo himself was for decades a popular character for team-ups and crossovers.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Timothy Q. Mouse has a theophoric name, a name invoking a deity. "Timothy" derives from Greek name "Timotheos", which is variously translated as "honouring God", "in God's honor", or "honored by God". The root words in Greek are the verb "timao" ("I honor") and "theos" (god, God).
2 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
While the watercolor painting technique used in the film was unusual for a Disney animated feature film, it was hardly new to the studio. Watercolor painting was used for the production of Disney's animated shorts.
1 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Dumbo is the third prominent character in a Disney feature film with no spoken dialogue. The previous two were Dopey in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Gideon in Pinocchio (1940).
1 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Bringing the original Dumbo story to Walt Disney's attention is credited to Herman "Kay" Kamen (1892-1949). Kamen was Disney's head of merchandise licensing and a prototype of the Roll-A-Book storytelling device was displayed to him. He was mot much interested in the device but thought the story had potential.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Walt Disney purchased the rights to the original Dumbo story and its characters, his idea was to adapt it into an animated short. However, he eventually decided that there was enough story potential to turn this into the subject of a feature film.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The plot of the film was mostly developed by two persons, Dick Huemer and Joe Grant. This was unusual at the time, since Disney features films often incorporated the ideas of multiple staff members.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Dumbo (1941) is the first low-budget Disney animated feature film. Previous Disney productions were more ambitious, and more expensive to produce but often failed to produce much revenue. Walt Disney decided to change methods in this production.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The animation of Dumbo is credited to Bill Tytla (1904-1968). He is considered among the best character animators of his era. His other main credits include the animation of Grumpy in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937), Stromboli in "Pinocchio" (1940), Chernabog in "Fantasia" (1940).
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Mrs. Jumbo's only line throughout the Entire Film is "Jumbo Jr." when naming her calf.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Timothy's name is mentioned only towards the end of the film in a newspaper reel, signing Dumbo's Contract.
1 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page