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Sleeping Beauty (1959) Poster

Trivia

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The running gag of Flora and Merryweather arguing about whether Aurora's dress should be pink or blue originated from the filmmakers' problem as to deciding just that.
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Eleanor Audley--one of Walt Disney's favorite voice artists, most memorably as Lady Tremaine in Cinderella (1950)--initially turned the part of Maleficent down, much to Disney's surprise. As it later transpired, Audley was in the midst of battling a bout of tuberculosis and did not want to tax her voice too much. Fortunately, she recovered and accepted the part.
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Second only to Dumbo (1941) (who didn't speak at all), this Disney title character has only about 18 lines of actual dialogue throughout the entire film, in which she only appears in the film for 18 minutes and which is actually about the three fairies who protect her, not about Sleeping Beauty herself. Briar Rose/Aurora's first line is spoken 19 minutes into the film and her last is delivered after she learns of her betrothal 39 minutes in. However, she does sing two songs during this time frame. The very last sound she makes in the movie is when she arrives at the castle and is crying about never seeing her true love again.
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The last fairy tale produced by the studio until The Little Mermaid (1989) 30 years later.
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One of the film's iconic scenes, when Briar Rose (Aurora) meets Prince Phillip for the first time to the tune of "Once Upon a Dream," was called "Sequence 8" when it was being produced. It was a particularly hard sequence to get right (Walt Disney rejected it several times) and ultimately had to be done four times, almost bankrupting the studio in the process.
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In the traditional Italian version of this fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty is named Princess Talia. In the ballet she is Aurora. In the German version, she is named Briar Rose. The film incorporates both names by having Princess Aurora use the name Briar Rose while undercover.
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Princess Aurora's long, thin, willowy body shape was inspired by that of Audrey Hepburn.
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HIDDEN MICKEY: When the fairies discuss how to help the king and queen, Merryweather makes cookies in the shape of Mickey Mouse.
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The film was in production at the Disney Studios for nearly a decade. Story work began in 1951, voices were recorded in 1952, the actual animation took from 1953 until 1958 and the stereophonic score, drawn almost entirely from the ballet Spyashchaya krasavitsa by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in the same year animation production finished. The movie was finally released two months later, in 1959.
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The fairytale book used in the beginning of the movie was real, and was handmade by Eyvind Earle, the man responsible for the entire look and feel of the movie. It was restored in 2008 and is displayed sometimes during public events.
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Walt Disney suggested that all three fairies should look alike, but veteran animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston disagreed with this idea, saying that having them be alike would not be exciting. Also, the idea originally included seven fairies instead of three, as in the original fairy tale.
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Even though it is not mentioned in the film, Maleficent's pet raven is named Diablo.
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For the first time on a Disney animated feature, one man, Eyvind Earle, was in charge of the color styling, background design and overall look of the film, even painting the great majority of the production backgrounds. Earle's modernistic approach to design and painting resulted in giving the film a bold, unique art style, even though his colleagues did not care for his production methods and art style while the film was in production. The elaborate background paintings usually took seven to ten days to paint. By contrast, a typical animation background takes one workday to complete.
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The prince is named after Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, as well as Prince Philip.
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Much of the musical score is based on Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet "Sleeping Beauty." The musical score throughout the film was recorded by the The Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra. The ominous piece of music to which Maleficent hypnotizes Aurora into pricking her finger is called "Puss-in-Boots and the White Cat." In Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet, it is used for a comic number in which two cats snarl at and try to scratch each other. Various movements from "The Sleeping Beauty" ballet underwent some reworking for the Disney film. The opening song ("Hail to the Princess Aurora") is actually the ballet's second movement, after the overture. Also, the theme playing when the three fairies clean the cottage is based on "The Silver Fairy" movement, which, in its original form, is barely a minute long.
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At the time, the film was the most expensive Disney animation project. Although it was a hit on its initial release, it still did not gross enough to recoup its $6-million outlay.
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The Disneyland castle was named for this film, even though the park opened four years prior to the film's release.
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Such was the attention to detail brought about by the widescreen process that some of the character animators were only capable of producing one drawing of their characters a day.--24 drawn images are needed to make up one second of movement on film.
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The restoration process involved four painstaking steps. The first was to scan the original negative into a computer and subject the entire print to a deflickering procedure, evening out all the worn images and creating a cohesive canvas upon which the restoration artists could work. This was then followed by rotoscoping to extract the principal characters, dust-busting to remove all traces of dust and scuffing, and then re-inserting the characters into their cleaned-up backgrounds. Then all 180,000 frames would be completely repainted by up to 40 people in a process that clocked up nearly 48,000 hours. Once complete, the final product is then scanned onto a new negative.
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Walt Disney's constant mantra to his animators was that the film could not be like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
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A flamethrower was used to create the dragon breath sound effect for the climax of the movie. Castanets were used for the sound of its snapping jaws.
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Walt Disney had toyed with the idea of a royal couple dancing in the clouds as a finale for both Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Cinderella (1950). The concept finally got used in Sleeping Beauty (1959), and was later re-used in Beauty and the Beast (1991) and The Princess and the Frog (2009). A similar image had appeared in the Bongo (1947) segment in Fun and Fancy Free (1947).
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The second-highest grossing film of 1959 due to its re-releases, just behind Ben-Hur (1959).
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The first Disney animated film on which Walt Disney personally worked to be released in high definition.
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Queen Leah is the first mother of a Disney Princess to be alive during the film. This would not happen again until Mulan (1998).
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Bill Shirley and Mary Costa auditioned together to ensure that their voices complemented each other's.
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This was the last Disney feature to have cels inked by hand. From One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) onward, the cleaned-up pencil drawings were xeroxed onto the cels. However, some of the scenes in this movie did use the xerography process.
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Art direction for this movie was inspired by European paintings and French medieval tapestries, French gothic manuscripts and French and German architectures.
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Animator Eric Cleworth based the dragon's head movements on those of a rattlesnake about to strike.
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Several story points came from discarded ideas from Walt Disney's previous fairy tale involving another sleeping heroine, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937); they include Maleficent's capture of the Prince and the Prince's daring escape from her castle. Walt Disney discarded these ideas from "Snow White" because he believed that his artists were not able to draw a human male believably enough.
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Only one other Disney animated film, The Black Cauldron (1985), was shot in the same format of Technirama.
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The third Disney film to undergo a painstaking computer restoration, after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) in 1987 and 1993, and Pinocchio (1940) in 1992.
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Famed Warner Bros. animation director Chuck Jones worked on the film briefly when "Termite Terrace"--the name Warner Bros.' cartoonists gave the building they worked in--closed temporarily during the late 1950s. He found the atmosphere at Walt Disney Productions oppressive because everything anyone did there had to be approved by Walt Disney before, during and after the process of production. He was more than happy when Warner's animation department re-opened, where he stayed until it closed again in 1964.
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During the transition screen to Maleficent's castle where Prince Phillip has been taken, with the fog/clouds swirling about, the wisps form skulls.
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For several years it was largely unknown who voiced Queen Leah (Aurora's mother), due to her being uncredited. Her lines were recorded by Verna Felton, who recorded most dialogue as Flora.
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Viewers never get to find out what gift Merryweather was meant to bestow upon the princess--wisdom or compassion would have been obvious choices--but according to the platinum edition DVD's commentary, her gift was going to be happiness.
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The song "Once Upon a Dream," is largely based on the Op. 66, Waltz of "The Sleeping Beauty Ballet", composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
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Aurora's hair does not stay "sunshine gold" throughout. Rather, it alternates between flesh and peach color. There are only a few scenes that she actually has gold hair.
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In 1960, to promote the release of the film in Japan, Walt Disney handpicked some 250 cels, backgrounds, preliminary paintings, animation drawings and story sketches to send to that country for a touring exhibition. Although the material was mostly for Sleeping Beauty (1959), Disney also provided examples from other films as well, including the only known cel and background setup from Flowers and Trees (1932). The exhibition opened at the Mitsukoshi department store that May and then traveled to 16 other stores throughout Japan. After the tour, Disney donated the artwork to Tokyo's National Museum of Modern Art. However, the material did not fit well into its permanent collection, so the museum gave the artwork to Chiba University to enhance the study of the school's visual arts program.
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Many elements of the film have been recycled into later films. The best example is The Sword in the Stone (1963), which reuses opening credit backgrounds and various animation sequences; the two most noticeable are the owl from the forest scene, who would inspire Merlin's pet Archemedes, and Maleficent in dragon form, which led to Madam Mim in dragon form.
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One song that was abandoned was "Evil-Evil," and it was to be sung by two of Maleficent's henchmen (who also happened to be brothers). It described their hatred of mankind and desire to cause them problems.
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Studio trademark: Habitually barefoot character(s): Aurora is barefoot for all but the very last scene.
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One of the first instances in which the movie soundtrack album featured the orchestral score instead of just songs from the film. This set the precedent for soundtrack albums that followed.
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Shot on a 35mm Technirama double-frame negative (which is as big as two regular Academy frames joined together) running horizontally through the animation camera, with each frame photographed three times (once with a red filter, once with a blue filter and once with a green filter). This negative was then printed on both CinemaScope-compatible anamorphic film and Super Technirama 70mm film, the first film released in Super Technirama 70.
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The first Disney animated feature to be created ostensibly for the 70mm format.
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This is the only Disney movie with square trees.
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The film's cost was a massive concern for Walt Disney, who slashed his animation personnel from 551 to 75 the following year. In fact, Disney was advised to pull out of animation altogether and concentrate on TV and theme parks instead.
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Among Aurora's animal friends in the forest are three birds who individually are red, green and blue-- the same colors as the three Good Fairies.
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George Bruns initially started scoring the film in Los Angeles in four-track stereo, until he got wind of a new studio in Berlin that used six-track stereo, so he decamped for Germany. Bruns' efforts were rewarded with an Oscar nomination.
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Live actors in costume served as models for the animators. The role of Prince Phillip was modeled by Ed Kemmer, who had played Commander Buzz Corry on television's Space Patrol (1950) five years previously. For the final battle sequence, Kemmer was photographed on a wooden buck. All the live actors' performances were later screened for the animators' reference. Among the actresses who performed in reference footage were Frances Bavier, Spring Byington and Madge Blake, the latter two of whom did some live-action doubling as the fairies. The voice artists were not chosen to do so for the fairies because they were not pudgy enough, though Merryweather's face does bear some resemblance to Barbara Luddy. Hans Conried did a live action reference for King Stefan while Don Barclay was the performance model for King Hubert.
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The spinning wheel is seen in Rapunzel's tower in 'Tangled'
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Was re-released in the US in 1970, 1979 and 1986. It was also re-issued in a few European countries in 1995. It was originally supposed to be re-released in America in 1993 as promoted on the 1992 VHS of Beauty and the Beast (1991), but no further evidence existed of these plans and was most likely to have been canceled by Disney.
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Hans Conried, best known as the voice of Captain Hook/Mr. Darling in Peter Pan (1953), recorded dialogue as King Stefan before Taylor Holmes was cast.
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The film took eight years to produce and cost more than $1 million, which would equate to about $68 million in 2018 dollars.
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Unlike the final cut that took place in the middle, King Stefan and King Hubert's argument (which is centered around them singing "Skumps," a drinking song) originally took place at the beginning of the film. They sang a song called "It Happens I Have A Picture," in which they proudly presented portraits of their children to each other while discussing their future plans of their kingdoms and children until Lord Duke told them about the Three Good Fairies who arrived at the castle gate. The demo of the song, which appears on the Legacy Collection edition of the soundtrack, was performed by Hans Conried (as Stefan), Bill Thompson (as Hubert), and Bill Scott (as Duke). In the final cut, while Thompson ended up doing the role of Hubert, Conried replaced Scott for the role of Duke and he was eventually replaced by Taylor Holmes for the role of Stefan.
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Selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, which deemed it "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" in 2019.
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In its original release, the film was preceded by the featurette Grand Canyon (1958).
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The look of Maleficent was mainly inspired by Maila Nurmi's character Vampira, who took most of her inspiration from Morticia Addams and coincidentally The Evil Queen from Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
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In active production from 1951 until the end of 1958, setting a record (for which it is tied with another 70mm film, The Black Cauldron (1985)) for being the Disney animated film with the longest production schedule.
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In the scene where Maleficent appears in the fireplace and hypnotizes Aurora, the female vocalist heard while the fire is burning out is actually saying "Aurora!" and is sung none other than Mary Costa herself. While difficult to hear in the film, it is much clearer on the score/soundtrack.
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Not only both films are implied to be set in France, both this film and Cinderella (1950) contain a nearly identical scene in which a dress is presented to the main character followed by the words, "Surprise! Surprise! Happy Birthday!"
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Despite being the titular character, Sleeping Beauty/Aurora/Briar Rose is only on screen for 18 minutes, and only has 18 lines of dialogue, making some people believe that her fairy godmothers are the main protagonists of the film. Furthermore, despite Aurora being marketed in a pink dress for all of her merchandise, her famous dress is blue for six minutes, about a third of her time on screen, while her dress is pink for only about 13 seconds.
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The music when Aurora and Prince Philip descend the stairs during the finale is the Royal Anthem of France, the former national anthem before the French Revolution.
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There was a scene storyboarded in which one of the fairies was attempting to make the cake without using the wand, but ultimately caused it to crash right through the roof. Ultimately, Walt Disney decided not to use it as he felt it was one gag too many.
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The second Disney animated film to be set in France, though not explicitly stated. The first was Cinderella (1950).
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This launched Mary Costa's successful career as an opera singer.
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Out of all the 16 voice cast members, Mary Costa (Sleeping Beauty) is the only one that is still alive as of January 2021.
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The second Disney animated feature to be filmed in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The first was Lady and the Tramp (1955).
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The first Disney animated feature film to be composed by George Bruns, who eventually became a recurring composer after Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline, Paul J. Smith, Oliver Wallace, Edward H. Plumb, Charles Wolcott and Eliot Daniel.
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The film's disappointing box office take was instrumental in the Disney Studios posting its first financial loss in a decade and ultimately led to massive lay-offs in the animation department.
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The character Maleficient is pictured on one of ten US nondenominational commemorative postage stamps celebrating "Disney Villains", issued as a pane of 20 stamps on 7/15/2017. The set was issued in a single sheet of 20 stamps. The price of each stamp on day of issue was 49¢. The other villains depicted in this issue are: The Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Honest John (Pinocchio (1940)), Lady Tremaine (Cinderella (1950)), The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland (1951)), Captain Hook (Peter Pan (1953)), Cruella De Ville (One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)), Ursula (The Little Mermaid (1989)), Gaston (Beauty and the Beast (1991)), and Scar (The Lion King (1994)).
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Hans Conried ("Lord Duke"/"Sir Minstrel's Yawn"/model reference for King Stefan), Candy Candido ("Maleficent's Goon") and Bill Thompson ("King Hubert") were previously in Peter Pan (1953) as Captain Hook/Mr Darling, Indian Chief, and Mr. Smee/Pirates.
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For a long time, it is still largely unknown who voiced Lord Duke (Royal Herald), possibly due to Hans Conried being replaced by Taylor Holmes for the voice role of King Stefan in the movie's final cut. It can be inferred that while recording some voice lines as Stefan for the demo recording and that Duke almost has the same Mid Atlantic accent in higher pitch, Conried possibly recorded some dialogues as Duke in his exciting high pitch and possibly provided one yawning sound for Sir Minstrel, though never confirmed or solved either.
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Barbara Luddy (Merryweather), Dallas McKennon (Diablo/Owl), and Taylor Holmes (King Stefan) had previously co starred in ''Lady and the Tramp (1955)'' as Lady, Professor/Hyena/Toughy, and Jim Dear's Friend/Doctor.
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Bill Scott, known as the voice of Dudley Do Right and Bullwinkle Moose in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, recorded two dialogues as Lord Duke as heard in ''The Legacy Collection: Sleeping Beauty''. Scott was replaced by Hans Conried, while his role as King Stefan went to Taylor Holmes for his last film role.
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Although the film is implied to be set in France, Princess Aurora, Maleficent, King Stefan, and Lord Duke all speak in English accents while Prince Phillip, Mistress Flora, Mistress Merryweather, Mistress Fauna, King Hubert, and Queen Leah have American accents.
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The final Disney animated film to have the story written by multiple people.
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The last Disney animated feature film to be a box-office bomb until The Black Cauldron (1985).
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In the 2014 re-imagining of the film, Princess Aurora is portrayed by Elle Fanning. She reprised the role in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019).
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Production kept getting delayed as the Disney Studios were concurrently also working on the Anaheim theme park, their TV shows and their live action movies.
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Prince Philip is the first Disney prince to bear a name - the two in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Cinderella (1950) weren't so lucky.
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Disney's 16th animated feature and last one of the 1950's.
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Like ''Alice in Wonderland (1951)'' never re-released theatrically in Walt Disney's lifetime.
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Early in production (1953), the film's assigned director Wilfred Jackson suffered a heart attack. He was replaced by Clyde Geronimi.
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Jack Lawrence and Sammy Fain had initially written several songs for the film until Walt Disney decided that the music should be inspired by Tchaikovsky's ballet. Of Lawrence and Fain's efforts only "Once Upon a Dream" survived.
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Despite being released theatrically early in 1959, the film was completed in 1958 (MCMLVIII) according to the opening credits.
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Eleanor Audley (Maleficent) and Verna Felton (Flora/Queen Leah) previously co starred in ''Cinderella (1950)'' as Lady Tremaine and the Fairy GodMother
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The second Disney animated feature film to be released release in January, after Pinocchio (1940).
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The first Disney animated film where the Prince (Prince Philip) takes an active role in defeating the main villain. The Evil Queen/Witch fell off a cliff in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Lady Tremaine was left with her daughters after Cinderella (1950) married her Prince, who did nothing. Philip actually kills Maleficent in the film.
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Maleficent's scream when Prince Phillip's sword gets stuck in her heart is the very same scream the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) emitted when falling off a cliff at the end of the movie, even though Maleficent's character only uses the first two seconds of the original seven-second-long scream used in "Snow White".
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