Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
|Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree|
One of theatrical release posters. Piglet and Tigger, who did not appear in the film, here more closely resemble 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 directed by Wolfgang Reitherman and produced by Walt Disney Productions. It was the last short film produced by Walt Disney, who died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966, eight months after its release. 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.
It featured the voices of Sebastian Cabot as the Narrator, Sterling Holloway as Winnie the Pooh, Junius Matthews as Rabbit, (also the voice of Archimedes the Owl in the 1963 Disney feature film The Sword in the Stone), Bruce Reitherman as Christopher Robin, Clint Howard as Roo, Barbara Luddy as Kanga, Ralph Wright as Eeyore, Howard Morris as Gopher, and Hal Smith as Owl.
Winnie-the-Pooh, a bear living in the Hundred Acre Wood, 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. Pooh's best friend, Christopher Robin, gives Pooh a balloon and he tries to trick the bees by disguising himself as a Little Black Rain Cloud by rolling in a mud puddle and floating up to the beehive. He pulls out some honey and eats it without noticing that it is covered in bees. The bees fly around inside his mouth causing him to spit them out. One of which is the queen whom he kicks into the muddy patch below. Soon, Pooh's disguise starts to drip, to which the bees attack him. The queen sees this and angrily flies up and stings him on the bottom. The sudden hit causes Pooh to swing up and down and get stuck at the beehive. He is then shoved out of the hole by the bees, who proceed to chase him away.
Pooh, still hungry, decides to visit Rabbit’s house. Rabbit reluctantly invites Pooh in, and Pooh helps himself to jars and jars of honey until there is none left. He tries to leave, but gets stuck in Rabbit's front door. Rabbit tries to push Pooh thorugh and eventually discovers that not even with Christopher Robin pulling can they get him out. Thus, he is forced to wait until he is thin enough to budge. In the meantime, Rabbit decides to decorate Pooh's bottom so he will not have to face looking at him being stuck for so long when he tickled. While he is doing this, Kanga and Roo visit Pooh and give him some honeysuckle flowers which make Pooh sneeze, completely destroying the decoration. Rabbit is also forced to put up a "Don't feed the bear!" sign after Pooh tries to get honey from Gopher late at night.
Rabbit leans against Pooh one morning and feels him move a bit. Ecstatic, Rabbit and Christopher Robin gather their friends 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, and is shooted into the hole of another honey tree. The gang runs after Pooh and finds him stuck in the tree headfirst. Pooh happily eats inside the tree and tells his friends to take their time to get him out.
- Sterling Holloway as Winnie the Pooh, a teddy bear who loves honey
- Junius Matthews as Rabbit, a rabbit who is obsessive-compulsive and loves planting his vegetables in his garden
- Bruce Reitherman as Christopher Robin, a seven-year-old boy and Pooh's best friend
- Hal Smith as Owl, an owl who loves to talk about his family
- Howard Morris as Gopher, a hardworking gopher who lives underground and often falls into his hole
- Clint Howard as Roo, Kanga's energetic young joey
- Barbara Luddy as Kanga, a kangaroo and Roo's mother
- Ralph Wright as Eeyore, an old grey donkey who is always losing his tail and talks in a slow, deep, depressed voice
- Dallas McKennon, Jimmy MacDonald, and Ginny Tyler as the Bees (uncredited)
- Sebastian Cabot as The Narrator
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. However, 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 book, "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 from the original book, and was reportedly contemplated by Disney when he first read the book. Following the mixed reception of Alice in Wonderland (1951), 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 does not appear in the original stories, was added to the cast. Because other "Nine Old Men" animators were working on The Jungle Book (1967), 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.
|Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree|
|Soundtrack album by|
- "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 and Richard Sherman, who wrote 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 score of the film drew inspiration from Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and had different instruments represent the characters: baritone horn for Pooh, bass clarinet for Eeyore, flute for Kanga, piccolo for Roo, clarinet for Rabbit, oboe for Piglet, French horn and ocarina for Owl, and bass harmonica for Gopher.
The film was released on February 4, 1966 in the United States, 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 film was released on April 18, 1966 in the UK, as a double feature with Peter Pan (1953).
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
- 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 Honey 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.
- Sherman, Robert; Sherman, Richard (1998). Walt's Time: from before to beyond. Camphor Tree Publishers. p. 68. ISBN 978-0964605930.
- Brandon, Emily (October 28, 2015). "8 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT WINNIE THE POOH". Oh My Disney. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
- 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.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- 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.