‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’: THR’s 1937 Review

On Dec. 21, 1937, Walt Disney premiered his first full-length animated feature at Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles.

On Dec. 21, 1937, Walt Disney premiered his first full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, at Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review, titled “‘Snow White’ Delightful Fairy Tale for All Ages,” is below:

Walt Disney’s long-awaited Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, first feature-length film told with animated drawings, meets even the wildest expectations of Disney’s millions of admirers. It is a masterpiece of entertainment for people of every age and proves beyond a doubt that length is no handicap to sustained interest in this medium, provided the quality is of such a standard as this.

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The production marks a milepost of motion picture progress, for it is in conceivable that this will not have many successors. Its appeal is so universal and its period of useful life so unlimited that it is certain to earn back the great cost and add note worthy profits as well.

Grimm’s fairytale of the little princess who was pursued by a vengeful step-mother, jealous of her beauty; who sought refuge in the home of the seven dwarfs; was put into a deathsleep by the witch’s magic and aroused by the loving kiss of Prince Charming, is known to children the world over. It has been retold and amplified here with consummate skill and charm. It is divided into contrasted episodes, each of distinctive character. There are scenes of idyllic beauty, of realistic terror, of quaint humor and broad cartoon comedy succeeding each other so smoothly as to give a sense of great variety, and of no untoward length anywhere.

The drawing and animation go far beyond anything seen before. Snow White is a lovely little figure who moves with the grace of a human person. She talks and sings, as do all but one of the dwarfs, who are broadly caricatured in typical cartoon fashion. All the action is accompanied by birds and little animals and the human happenings are pointed up delightfully by the reactions of the creatures. Of the many innovations one of the most striking is the mist effect used when the witch is being chased to her death by the dwarfs. Stereoscope effects are employed through out and many of them are marvelous.

The color is of great variety and beauty and is chiefly distinguished by the use of soft tones and startling new contrasts.

Of first importance is the music and accompanying sound effects. The score is strikingly original in both melodic and instrumental elements, continuously fresh and arresting, but taking its proper place in the story telling.

Several charming ballads, written by the Disney musical staff, are introduced for much-enhanced effect. Snow White sings “Some Day My Prince Will Come” and “The Wishing Well”, and her prince has a fine love ballad in “One Song.” The dwarfs also are well supplied with vocal numbers of appropriate character.

The little fellows make a grand crew of comics. Each has his individual characteristics and a name to fit. Grumpy, for example, is a woman hater and the last to be won over by the kind princess, while Dopey, the youngest, is the silent one, the butt of the practical jokes and the princess’s abject slave.

In attempting this monumental innovation Walt Disney, has carved for himself a permanent’ niche in the motion picture hall of fame. His years of devoted creative work have come to a splendid fruition and, despite his generous credits to his helpers, the picture stands as a tribute to his own fine courage and to his sensitive genius. — Staff byline, originally published on Dec. 22, 1937