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November 18, 2010

A classic among classics, Disney's second full-length animated film (1940)?was based on Italian author Carlo Collodi's story of a young marionette who wishes to be a real boy. Written in serial form in the 1880s, the story was translated into English in 1892. The marionette's adventures are amazing. Pinocchio is kidnapped by the puppeteer Stromboli; gets in trouble with bad boy Lampwick, and then rescues father Geppetto from the belly of Monstro the Whale. Thanks to Pinocchio's good deeds, the Blue Fairy grants his wish to become human.

Disney altered some elements of the original story. In Collodi's original version, Pinocchio ignores the cricket who attempts to lecture him, finally squashing him like the bug he is. The Disney feature lets the cricket live to become a real hero. For all his hard work as Pinocchio's conscience, Jiminy Cricket was awarded an Official Conscience Medal by the Blue Fairy. Jiminy would go on to an illustrious career in other Disney films.

An early problem with Pinocchio's production was that the puppet couldn't seem to carry the film on his own. This was solved by creating the strongest supporting cast ever seen in a Disney picture. Characters from this film include Figaro the kitten, Cleo the goldfish, the Coachman, the Blue Fairy and the famous Fox and Cat, "Honest" John Worthington Foulfellow and Gideon.

The film was directed by Hamilton Luske and Ben Sharpsteen. The look of the film was based on the art of children's illustrator Gustav Tenggren. Noted animator Ward Kimball developed the look and feel of Jiminy Cricket. The music was composed by Leigh Harline, Ned Washington and Paul Smith. The picture won two Academy Awards, both for music: When You Wish Upon a Star won for Best Song, while the film as a whole won for Best Scoring of an Original Picture. Vocal talent included Dickie Jones, Christian Rub, Cliff Edwards and Mel Blanc. The film is tied with Snow White (1937) as the motion picture to have been re-released the greatest number of times.

Merchandise was extensive. It began in 1939, the year before the film's release, and included a variety of figural items, toys by the Marx Company, books, dolls and other products. Pinocchio, as well as characters from the Pinocchio family, appear in Four Color Comics #92, 252, 545, 701, 750, 795, 886, 897, 982, 989 and 1203. Some issues contain partial reprints of earlier issues. Pinocchio is considered a true Disney classic and items related to it are still being manufactured today.

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