Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
|Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree|
One of theatrical release posters
|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|
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 combines live-action and animation, and 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.
The story opens with Winnie the Pooh going through his morning exercises during which he accidentally rips the stitching on his bottom. After repairing his torn rump he goes to his pantry for some breakfast, only to discover 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. Needing help, Pooh decides to go to Christopher Robin's house to get a balloon from him. His plan is to cover himself in mud to disguise himself as a rain cloud and use the balloon to float up to the hive. As Pooh gets at the honey, and as his muddy disguise is compromised, the bees fight back against him, and the scuffle ends with the balloon losing its string, sending Pooh flying through the air until it runs out of air. After Pooh falls to the ground, getting caught by Christopher Robin, the bees proceed to chase the two down, and they barely manage to escape them by jumping into the mud puddle.
With honey still on his mind, Pooh heads to Rabbit's house in hopes of getting some. The reluctant Rabbit invites Pooh in, despite realizing the bear's vast appetite, and Pooh proceeds to eat him out of all his honey. Pooh ends up becoming very rotund, and as he tries to exit Rabbit's house, he finds himself stuck and unable to fit through his front door. After a worried Rabbit tries to free Pooh by pushing his over-sized bottom, he runs off to get Christoper Robin for help, Owl flies by and examines Pooh's predicament. The two are met by Gopher, who suggests that he blast Pooh out with dynamite for pay. Rabbit returns with Christopher Robin, and they unsuccessfully try to pull Pooh out. With Rabbit refusing to push him back in, Christopher Robin decides that Pooh will just have to wait until he gets thin again. Rabbit decides to make the best of the bad situation and tries various ways to disguise the bears bottom.
One night, while Pooh is asleep, Gopher appears once again, taking a break from his "swing shift" to eat lunch. One of the things Gopher is snacking on is a jar of honey, and Rabbit manages to prevent Pooh from having some and wards Gopher off. Some time later, Rabbit wakes up and discovers that Pooh's fat bottom has slightly shrunken, meaning it is now possible to get him out. He gets Christopher Robin, who gathers Kanga, Eeyore, Owl, Roo, and Gopher, and they all pull on Pooh from outside the house while Rabbit pushes him from inside. Finally, Rabbit charges into Pooh, which sends him flying out of the front door, through the sky, and into the honey tree, which scares away the bees inside. The gang arrives at the scene, and Christopher Robin promises Pooh that they will help him get out again. However, Pooh tells them to take their time, for now he has an ample supply of honey to eat.
The film's plot is based primarily on three 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), "In which Pooh goes visiting and gets into a tight place" (Chapter II of Winnie-the-Pooh), and "In which Eeyore loses a tail and Pooh finds one" (Chapter IV from Winnie the Pooh).
- 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 as Bees
- 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"
Walt Disney acquired the film rights to the Winnie-the-Pooh stories in 1961 with the intent of adapting them into a full-length animated musical feature. However, upon realizing that worldwide audiences are not as familiar with the stories as the British, Disney soon decided to split the feature into a series of featurettes to give audiences the chance to get to know and love the Pooh characters. Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree would be the only featurette produced and released during Disney's lifetime, as he died later that year on December 15, 1966, just as production began on its follow-up Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.
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.
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 received positive reception. The New York Times said of it "The 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.