Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
|Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree|
One of theatrical release posters (notice the different designs of Piglet and Tigger, who weren't in the film, more closely resembling their appearance in the E.H. Shepherd illustrations)
|Directed by||Wolfgang Reitherman|
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Story by||Larry Clemmons|
|Based on||Stories written|
by A. A. Milne
|Narrated by||Sebastian Cabot|
|Music by||Robert & Richard Sherman (songs) |
Buddy Baker (score)
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Box office||$6.2 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)|
Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree is a 1966 animated featurette based on the first two chapters of the book Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne. The film was produced by Walt Disney Productions. Its songs were written by the Sherman Brothers (Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman) and the score was composed and conducted by Buddy Baker.
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Winnie the Pooh is introduced as a bear living in the Hundred Acre Wood. After doing his Stoutness Exercises, he is disappointed to find that he is out of honey. He hears a bee fly by and decides to climb a nearby honey tree, but as he reaches the beehive, a branch he is sitting on breaks, causing him to fall and land in a gorse bush. Pooh's best friend Christopher Robin gives Pooh a balloon and he tries his best to trick the bees by disguising himself as a Little Black Rain Cloud by rolling in a muddy puddle and floating up to the bees' nest. Without looking, he pulls out some honey covered in bees and eats them with the honey. They fly around inside his mouth causing him to spit them out. One of the bees is the queen who Pooh kicks down into the muddy puddle. By now the other bees have realised what is going on and they fly out to meet him as his disguise starts to drip revealing that he is in fact a bear. The queen bee sees this and angrily flies up and stings his bottom. The sudden hit causes him to swing back and forth and jam his bottom in the hive. The queen bee rests on a nearby branch and starts laughing heartily at Pooh's expense. The now nervous Pooh admits to Christopher Robin that these are the wrong sorts of bees, and is shoved out of the hole by them who proceed to chase him away.
Pooh, still hungry, decides to visit Rabbit’s house, as Rabbit "uses short, easy words like 'how about lunch?' and 'help yourself, Pooh." Rabbit reluctantly invites Pooh in, where Pooh helps himself to jars and jars of honey. When Pooh has eaten all of the honey in Rabbit's house, he tries to leave, but is too large to fit through Rabbit's door. Rabbit tries to free Pooh by pushing him through his door, but realizes he will need help to get Pooh out, and leaves via his back door to fetch Christopher Robin for help. Owl flies past and tries to give Pooh advice, but is then interrupted by Gopher, who claims he can use dynamite to blast Pooh out of the hole.
Despite the effort of Christopher Robin and Rabbit pulling together, Pooh does not budge. Pooh is worried he may be stuck for a while, and while he is, Rabbit decides to decorate Pooh's bottom so he will not have to face looking at him being stuck for so long. He decorates Pooh's bottom into a moose-like "hunting trophy". While he is doing this, Kanga and Roo visit Pooh and give him some honeysuckle flowers which make Pooh sneeze, ruining Rabbit's moose. Rabbit is forced to put up a "Don't feed the bear!" sign after Pooh tries to get honey from Gopher.
Rabbit leans against Pooh one morning and feels him move a bit. Ecstatic, Rabbit and Christopher Robin gather the whole of the Hundred Acre Wood to get Pooh out. Everyone except Rabbit pulls from outside while Rabbit pushes from inside. Rabbit shoves Pooh with a running start, and Pooh is launched free from Rabbit's door and into the air while the others fall to the ground, and they watch as Pooh shoots into the hole of another honey tree. The gang runs after Pooh and finds him stuck in the tree headfirst. Christopher Robin shouts up to him not to worry, but Pooh is happily eating the honey that fills the inside of the tree and tells his friends to take their time.
- Sterling Holloway as Winnie the Pooh
- Junius Matthews as Rabbit
- Bruce Reitherman as Christopher Robin
- Hal Smith as Owl
- Howard Morris as Gopher
- Clint Howard as Roo
- Barbara Luddy as Kanga
- Ralph Wright as Eeyore
- Dallas McKennon, Jimmy MacDonald, and Ginny Tyler as the Bees (uncredited)
- Sebastian Cabot as The Narrator
- "Winnie the Pooh"
- "Up, Down and Touch the Ground"
- "Rumbly in My Tumbly"
- "Little Black Rain Cloud"
- "Mind Over Matter"
All songs were written by Robert & Richard Sherman, who have written most of the music for the Winnie-the-Pooh franchise over the years, subsequently incorporated into the 1977 musical film, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which is an amalgamation of the three previous Winnie-the-Pooh featurettes including "Honey Tree".
Originally, "Mind Over Matter" was about tempting Pooh to think about getting thinner again. The original lyrics can be heard on the soundtrack album from Disneyland Records. In the end, it ended up being the "Heave Ho" song in the final film.
In 1964, when the Sherman Brothers were preparing to demonstrate "Little Black Rain Cloud" for Walt Disney, Robert Sherman reminded his brother Richard that Disney was from the Midwest and that he didn't pronounce the word "hover" like Californians would. Instead, he would pronounce it more like "hoovering". As Richard played the piano and sang, he repeatedly stumbled over the lyric, unable to get past the second line of the song. After a few tries Disney reportedly said, "Why don't you just tell us about it, Dick."
The insight and inspiration for the Pooh songs came from an unlikely source, as is explained in the Sherman Brothers' joint autobiography, Walt's Time:
|“||Walt (Disney) said 'Read the Pooh stories and let me know what you think.' We tried, but the stories just weren't coming through to us. At that time designer Tony Walton was working on Poppins. He was English born, and he was about our age, so we asked him to give us some insight on the Pooh character. His eyes lit up. 'Winnie the Pooh?', he said. 'I love Winnie the Pooh! Of course I'll help you!' Three hours later, he was still talking about Pooh, inspiring us no end. He explained how he had been a chubby little boy, and had felt very insecure. But Winnie the Pooh was his buddy, because Pooh was pudgy and proud of it. Pooh was probably the only character in the world who exercised to gain weight! Pooh was a wonderful, lovable friend who would never let you down or turn his back on you. Soon, we started to fall in love with Pooh ourselves. Our songs for Winnie the Pooh were truly a love affair, thanks to A. A. Milne and to Tony Walton. ||”|
The film's plot is based primarily on two A. A. Milne stories: "In which we are introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and some bees, and the stories begin" (Chapter I of Winnie-the-Pooh), and "In which Pooh goes visiting and gets into a tight place" (Chapter II of Winnie-the-Pooh).
Walt Disney first learned of the Winnie the Pooh books from his daughter, Diane. "Dad would hear me laughing alone in my room and come in to see what I was laughing at," Diane later recalled. "It was usually the gentle, whimsical humor of A. A. Milne's Pooh stories. I read them over and over, and then many years later to my children, and now to my grandchildren." As early as 1938, Disney expressed interest in obtaining the film rights to the Pooh books by first corresponding with the literary agency Curtis Brown. In June 1961, Disney acquired the film rights. By 1964, Disney told his animation staff that he was planning to make a full-length animated feature film based on the books. A meeting was held with senior staff members to discuss the proposed film, and during the meeting, Disney decided not to make a feature film, but instead a featurette that could be attached to a live-action film.
For the first film, Walt and his collaborators turned to the first two chapters of the first chapter, "In which we are introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and some honey Bees, and the stories Begin", and "In which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets into a Tight Place". The scene where Rabbit deals with Pooh's being part of the "decor of his home", was not used in the original book, and was reportedly contemplated by Disney when he first read the book. Following the mixed reception of Alice in Wonderland, he turned the project over to staff members who were nonchalant with the original stories. He selected Wolfgang Reitherman to direct the project in hopes of Americanizing the characters and including more humor. Reitherman cast his son, Bruce, to voice Christopher Robin and the character of Gopher, who doesn't appear in the original stories, was added to the cast. Because other "Nine Old Men" animators were working on The Jungle Book, only Eric Larson and John Lounsbery were assigned to animate the characters. Other character animators such as Hal King, John Sibley, and Eric Cleworth were brought onto the project.
The film was released on February 4, 1966, as a supplement to Disney's live-action feature The Ugly Dachshund. It would later be included as a segment in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which included the two further Pooh featurettes, released on March 11, 1977.
The short initially received mixed reception. Howard Thompson of The New York Times said that "[t]he Disney technicians responsible for this beguiling miniature have had the wisdom to dip right into the Milne pages, just the way Pooh paws after honey...The flavoring, with some nice tunes stirred in, is exactly right—wistful, sprightly and often hilarious. English critic Felix Barker strongly disliked it. E.H. Shepard called the short a travesty. A.A. Milne's widow, Daphne, is said to have liked it.
- Finch, Christopher (2000). Disney's Winnie the Pooh: A Celebration of the Silly Old Bear. Disney Editions. ISBN 978-0786853441.
- "Big Rental Pictures of 1966", Variety, 4 January 1967 p 8
- Sherman, Robert B., Walt's Time: from before to beyond, 1998, p 68.
- Fanning, Jim (February 4, 2016). "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree: Did You Know?". D23. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- Finch 2000, p. 33–5.
- "Winnie the Pooh and the Hoeny Tree: Behind The Very First Winnie the Pooh Film". Oh My Disney. August 9, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- Finch 2000, p. 38.
- Finch 2000, p. 37–9.
- Fanning, Jim (February 4, 2010). "All Facts, No Fluff and Stuff". D23. D23.com. Archived from the original on July 10, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
- Finch 2000, p. 49–50.
- Thompson, Howard (April 7, 1966). "A Disney Package: Don't Miss the Short". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 24, 2016.