Uncle Remus draws upon his tales of Brer Rabbit to help little Johnny deal his confusion over his parents' separation as well as his new life on the plantation. The tales: The Briar Patch, The Tar Baby and Brer Rabbit's Laughing place.Written by
Paul Penna <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When "Splash Mountain", an amusement ride based on this film, opened in Disneyland in 1989, the local NAACP and others protested. See more »
Shadows of the mike and boom are visible in the early scene in Johnny's room. See more »
There's other ways of learning about the behind feet of a mule than getting kicked by them, sure as I'm named Remus. And just because these here tales is about critters like Br'er Rabbit an' Br'er Fox, that don't mean they ain't the same like can happen to folks! So them who can't learn from a tale about critters, just ain't got the ears tuned for listening.
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Censorship: It's A Dirty Job, But Everybody Wants To Do It...
...Or, Queuing Up At The Outlaw Cinema.
In China and Saudi Arabia, the government has absolute and frightening authority to bury whatever films or music or publications it considers unacceptable. In the dollar-driven U.S., we let cowardly mega-corporations (which either can't blow their nose without ten rounds of focus groups pummeling the life out of what may have been a decent idea once, or are run by megalomaniacs who attend to every detail of everything, whether they are capable or not) suppress our art for us. So while I guess it's par for the course that the studio that financed Song of the South is scared to death to touch this film, and in fact refuses to acknowledge that it exists, this situation leaves me wondering whether this means that those focus group studies held in South Central L.A. didn't turn out like they planned. Or is the "they" who buried this film The Big E himself? Anybody?
Let me spell out the specifics of this despised and incendiary censored object: It is good-hearted and sweet in the extreme. It was lovingly crafted to be a sentimental family film in a time that was far more hospitable to sentimental, family-oriented entertainment than we are today. But the acid test that it passes, for me, is that as you watch it, you find yourself wanting to be Remus. Or to be a person with the stature, the imagination and the moral strength of Remus. He's lovable, wise, good, and possessed of immense natural wit. He has the smartest way with words of any film character of the 40s. James Basket is absolutely brilliant. His Remus is fully endowed with dignity, warmth and depth, even more so than most characters in mainstream films of this period.
Oh the humanity! How dare they put out something like this!?
Seeing it for the first time in 2004, you will likely be stunned that some bumbling corporate bureaucrats have decided that you shouldn't see this. The part that gives these people a problem is, I am guessing, that ex-slaves ('ex' because this is well after the Civil War) are shown here as (outwardly) well-adjusted people. This is kept off to the side, depicted (or really NOT depicted) by mostly dark, atmosphere-setting, long shot scenes of itinerant laborers ambling toward the work field, group-singing or sitting around fires, singing and telling stories. The fact that they are not on-their-sleeve embittered revolutionaries/guerrillas is apparently the deal-breaker for the PC inclined.
I give this film ten stars. (For the record, I got my copy of this film from on line, in a sparkling-clean D.V.D. transfer. They're out there, and well worth your bargain dollar. Just watch who you buy from.)
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