Legacy Content

Toon Talk Special: 50 Greatest Disney Animated Moments: Part 1 of 2
Page 1 of 4

by Kirby C. Holt (archives)
April 20, 2001
In a special edition of Toon Talk, Kirby gives you his 50 Greatest Animated Disney Movie Moments. This first part features numbers 50-26.

The 50 Greatest Animated Disney Movie Moments
Part One of Two

In the spirit of such list making magazines as TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly, I've decided to turn the Toon Talk spotlight onto such endeavors.

Over the years, Disney has been a great source of wonderful, awe-inspiring, tear-jerking, cheer-raising movie moments. Combining every artistic and technical means at their disposal, the Disney filmmakers have created many classic scenes, memorable in their magic, inspirational in their imagination.

They have taken you to fantastic places, from Neverland to Wonderland, Atlantica to Naboombu. We have met immortal legends from American history, Greek mythology and the Arabian Nights; literary figures from the likes of Victor Hugo, Rudyard Kipling and Edgar Rice Burroughs; and classic fairy tale princesses and princes (with a few wacky sidekicks, nefarious villains and fluffy animals thrown in for good measure).

A puppet who wants to be a boy, an elephant who can fly, action figures and cartoon characters with a life of their own ... these are the stories that can best be told through the medium of animation, and we have had the pleasure to watch them all unfold.

Through my research preparing for this article, I was humbled by the scope and breadth of my task. To narrow the illustrious history of Disney feature animation down to fifty screen moments was daunting to say the least. (I naively thought at first I could do it with twenty-five slots, but that idea was quickly jettisoned as the list grew.)

I knew that I had to enforce some limitations and establish criteria for my choices. After all, this article is for Disney fans, who would all have their own opinions on what should be included in such a list. (Such opinions are, of course, eagerly encouraged and anticipated!)

First off, I limited myself to Disney feature animation. To include shorts, television, video and all other mediums would have been quite an undertaking. Nope, save those for a possible future list. Also included would be so called "non-traditionally" animated films, such as computer animation, stop motion, and live action/animation hybrids. After all, it is still film animation no matter if a pencil was used or not. And to be fair and include as varied a listing as possible, I limited the selections to two scenes per movie.

As for the criteria in which I made my selections, it broke down to five different aspects:

  1. Emotional Power: How does the scene make you feel? Joy? Fear? Wonder? Does it make you laugh? Cry? All warm and fuzzy inside?

  2. Historical/Cultural Significance: Is the scene historically important, not just in the realm of animation in general (and Disney animation in particular), but in cinematic history as well? Has the scene entered into that vast intangible universe known as "pop culture"?

  3. Technical Merit: What animation techniques and technology were used to create the scene, and to what success?

  4. Artistic Merit: How well did the scene combine such basic film making tools as writing, music, color, design?

  5. And finally, Personal Impact: Any such list would have to take into consideration how the scene effected the writer personally. So yes, it may be weighted a little to personal biases (something writers are know to have from time to time), but this "contest" had a lonely jury of one.

Before I commence with the list itself, I would like to thank all of the film makers responsible for the scenes to follow. Animators, writers, directors, producers, actors, singers, composers, musicians, technicians, designers, the list goes on and on, all to numerous to mention here. These talented men and women have all worked together to create these stories and the memories that they inspired.

#50 - The Football Match
Bedknobs and Broomsticks - 1971

The titular bedknob has transported our protagonists to the mythical Isle of Naboombu, a land populated by a zoo full of anthropomorphic animals. In order to get close enough to snatch the object of their quest, the mystical Star of Astaroth, from King Leonidas (who lives up to his name), Professor Emelius Browne (a game David Tomlinson) has agreed to referee the king's Royal Cup Match. He soon finds out why it is so difficult to find volunteers for this post. It's the king's Dirty Yellows versus the True Blues, and poor Emelius is caught in the hilarious cross-fire of this ragtag menagerie.

#49 - The Wizard's Duel
The Sword in the Stone - 1963

In the high point of this retelling of the Arthurian legend, Merlin the Magician must face-off against wickedly wacky Mad Madame Mim in a battle of wits and magical powers. Transforming themselves into an odd assortment of beasts, Mim gains the lead by changing into increasingly more predatory animals (crocodile, tiger, rhinoceros). Merlin, just trying to stay alive, opts for more timid creatures (turtle, mouse, rabbit). But when he achieves the upper hand, Mim breaks her own rules and changes into a fire-breathing dragon. Merlin triumphs by playing it fair, albeit creatively.

#48 - The Mad Tea Party
Alice in Wonderland - 1951

"How very curious" understates Alice as she happens upon this wild episode late in her adventures in Wonderland. Within this madcap tea party hosted by the indomitable duo of the Mad Hatter and the March Hare (voiced by the incomparable Ed Wynn and Jerry Colonna), she is introduced to the concept of the unbirthday, is serenaded by a sleepy Doormouse and is unable to drink a single drop of tea. The lunacy escalates when the hapless White Rabbit appears, who watches in horror as the Hatter, who has surmised that his perpetual tardiness is due to his watch being "exactly two days slow", proceeds to pour, slather and dump every conceivable item on the table into the timepiece. Everything, that is, except for the mustard. "Muthtard!?  Let'th don't be thilly" he lisps. "Thilly" indeed.

#47 - The King of the Apes
The Jungle Book - 1967

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(c) Disney

Mowgli has been kidnapped by monkeys and taken to their leader, the "ker-aze-eee" King Louie (scat man Louis Prima). The orangutan, long arms flapping on the ground, informs the man cub "what I desire is man's red fire so I can be like you." The scene erupts into a jazzy revelry of simian brotherhood. Baloo (Phil Harris, in his first of three Disney features), attempting to rescue Mowgli, crashes the party in ape drag. But when the jungle beat gets to him and he is discovered, the mayhem that ensues literally brings down the house.

#46 - Tiny Bubbles
Cinderella - 1950

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(c) Disney

As her stepsisters screech their way through a chorus of Sing Sweet Nightingale, we find Cinderella (classically voiced by Ilene Woods), beautifully continuing the song, scrubbing the marble floors below. A soap bubble forms, reflecting her image in itself. It is joined by others, all echoing her sweet soprano, until there is an entire choir of bubbles, filling the screen. In this brief but enchanting moment, the message is clear: beauty begets beauty.

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