Cinderella (1950 film)

This article is about the 1950 Disney animated film. For the live-action film, see Cinderella (2015 Disney film). For the franchise, see Cinderella (Disney franchise). For the character, see Cinderella (Disney character).

Original theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by Walt Disney
Written by
Based on Cendrillon
by Charles Perrault
Narrated by Betty Lou Gerson
Music by Oliver Wallace (score)
Paul J. Smith (score)
Mack David (music-words-songs)
Jerry Livingston (music-words-songs)
Al Hoffman (music-words-songs)
Edited by Donald Halliday
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release dates
  • February 15, 1950 (1950-02-15) (Boston)[3]
  • March 4, 1950 (1950-03-04) (US)[3]
Running time
75 minutes[4]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.9 million[5]
Box office $263.6 million[5]

Cinderella is a 1950 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney and originally released by RKO Radio Pictures. Based on the fairy tale Cendrillon by Charles Perrault, it is the twelfth Disney animated feature film. Directing credits go to Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, and Wilfred Jackson. Songs were written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman. Songs in the film include "Cinderella", "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "Sing Sweet Nightingale", "The Work Song", "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", and "So This is Love". It features the voices of Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Rhoda Williams, James MacDonald, Luis van Rooten, Don Barclay, Mike Douglas, and Lucille Bliss.

At the time, Walt Disney Productions had suffered from losing connections to the European film markets due to the outbreak of World War II, enduring some box office bombs like Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi, all of which would later become more successful with several re-releases in theaters and on home video. At the time, however, the studio was over $4 million in debt and was on the verge of bankruptcy. Walt Disney and his animators turned back to feature film production in 1948 after producing a string of package films with the idea of adapting Charles Perrault's Cendrillon into a motion picture. It is the first Disney film in which all of Disney's Nine Old Men worked together as directing animators. After two years in production, Cinderella was finally released on February 15, 1950. It became the greatest critical and commercial hit for the studio since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and helped reverse the studio's fortunes. It is considered one of the best American animated films ever made, as selected by the American Film Institute. It received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Music, Original Song for "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo". Decades later, it was followed by two direct-to-video sequels—Cinderella II: Dreams Come True and Cinderella III: A Twist in Timeand a 2015 live-action remake directed by Kenneth Branagh.[6]


Cinderella lives an unhappy life, having lost both parents at a young age and being forced to work as a scullery maid for her cruel stepmother, Lady Tremaine, jealous of Cinderella's beauty, and stepsisters Drizella and Anastasia, in the dilapidated château they live in. Despite this, Cinderella is a kind and gentle young woman and is friends with mice and birds that live in and around the château. Meanwhile, at the royal palace, the King is frustrated that his son, the Prince, is still unmarried. He and the Grand Duke organize a ball in an effort to find a suitable wife for the Prince, requesting every eligible maiden attend. Upon receiving notice of the ball, Tremaine agrees to let Cinderella if she finishes her chores and can find a suitable dress to wear.

Cinderella finds a gown that belonging to her mother and decides to refashion it for the ball, but her stepfamily impede this by giving her extra chores. Cinderella's animal friends, including Jaq and Gus, refashion it for her, completing the design with a necklace and sash discarded by Drizella and Anastasia, respectively. When Cinderella comes downstairs wearing the dress, the stepsisters are angered when they realize Cinderella is wearing their accessories and angrily tear the dress to shreds before leaving for the ball with their mother. A heartbroken Cinderella runs out into the garden in tears, where her Fairy Godmother appears before her. Insisting that Cinderella go to the ball, the Fairy Godmother magically transforms a pumpkin into a carriage, the mice into horses, Cinderella's horse, Major, into a coachman, and dog, Bruno, into a footman, before turning Cinderella's ruined dress into a blue ball gown and her shoes into glass slippers. As Cinderella leaves for the ball, the Fairy Godmother warns her the spell will break at the stroke of midnight.

At the ball, the Prince rejects every girl until he sees Cinderella, who agrees to dance with him. The two fall in love and go out for a stroll together in the castle gardens. As they are about to kiss, Cinderella hears the clock start to chime midnight and flees. As she leaves the castle, one of her slippers falls off. The palace guards give chase as Cinderella flees in the coach before the spell breaks on the last stroke of midnight. Cinderella, her pets, and the mice hide in a wooded area as the guards pass.

The Grand Duke informs the King that Cinderella, who remains anonymous, has escaped, and that the Prince wishes to marry her. The lost glass slipper is the only piece of evidence. The King issues a royal proclamation ordering every maiden in the kingdom to try on the slipper for size in an effort to find the girl. After this news reaches Cinderella's household, Tremaine realizes her stepdaughter is that girl when hearing her humming the waltz played at the ball and locks her in her attic bedroom. Later, the Duke arrives at the château, and Jaq and Gus steal the key from Tremaine's dress pocket and take it up to the attic as Anastasia and Drizella unsuccessfully try on the slipper. Tremaine's cat Lucifer ambushes the mice, but Bruno chases him out of the house, allowing the mice to free Cinderella. As the Duke is about to leave, Cinderella appears and asks to try on the slipper. Knowing it will fit, Lady Tremaine trips the footman as he brings the Duke the slipper, causing it to shatter on the floor. Much to her horror, Cinderella presents the Duke with the other slipper, which fits perfectly. The film ends with a now-married Prince and Cinderella at their wedding, sharing a kiss as they leave.


Role Actor Voice Singer
Cinderella Helene Stanley Ilene Woods
Anastasia Tremaine Lucille Bliss
Lady Tremaine aka the Wicked Stepmother Eleanor Audley
Fairy Godmother Claire Du Brey Verna Felton
Prince Charming Jeffrey Stone William Phipps Mike Douglas
Drizella Tremaine Rhoda Williams
Jaq / Gus / Bruno Jimmy MacDonald
Grand Duke / the King Luis van Rooten
Doorman Don Barclay
Lucifer June Foray
Narrator Betty Lou Gerson Marni Nixon



Made on the cusp between the classic "golden age" Disney animations of the 1930s and 1940s and the less critically acclaimed productions of the 1950s, Cinderella is representative of both eras.

Cinderella was the first full-bodied feature produced by the studio since Bambi in 1942; World War II and low box office returns had forced Walt Disney to produce a series of inexpensive package films such as Make Mine Music and Fun and Fancy Free for the 1940s. Live action reference was used extensively to keep animation costs down. According to Laryn Dowel, one of the directing animators of the film, roughly 90% of the film was done in live action model before animation, using basic sets as references for actors and animators alike.

Both Helene Stanley (Cinderella's live action model) and Ilene Woods (Cinderella's voice actress, selected from 400 other candidates) heavily influenced Cinderella's styling and mannerisms. Stanley was the live-action model for Anastasia Tremaine as well.[7] She would be so again for Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and Anita Radcliffe in One Hundred and One Dalmatians.[8] Animators modeled Prince Charming on actor Jeffrey Stone, who also provided some additional voices for the film.[9] Mike Douglas was the Prince's singing voice while William Phipps recorded the prince's dialogue (or speaking voice).

In earlier drafts of the screenplay, the Prince originally played a larger role and had more character development than what he ultimately received in the final version of the film. In one abandoned opening, the Prince was shown hunting a deer, but at the end of the sequence, it was to be revealed that the Prince and the deer were actually friends playing a game. In an abandoned alternate ending, after the Duke discovered Cinderella's identity, she was shown being brought to the castle to be reintroduced to the Prince, who is surprised to learn that Cinderella was actually a modest servant girl instead of the princess he thought she was, but the Prince's feelings for her were too strong to be bothered by this and he embraced her; the Fairy Godmother was to reappear and restore Cinderella's ball gown for the closing shot. Walt Disney himself reportedly cut the alternate ending because he felt it was overlong and did not give the audience its "pay off", but the scene would later be incorporated in the video game, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.

Other deleted material included an abandoned song that was tentatively titled the "Cinderella Work Song", which was part of a fantasy sequence that was set to take place after Lady Tremaine tells Cinderella that she can go to the ball if she finishes all of her chores and has a nice dress to wear. In this abandoned sequence, Cinderella imagines herself being cloned into an army to divide up the work while pondering what the ball itself will be like. The sequence was cut, but the title was applied to the song the mice sing when they work on Cinderella's dress. Additionally, there was a scene that took place after the ball in which Cinderella was seen returning to her home and eavesdropped on her stepfamily, who were ranting about the mystery girl at the ball, and Cinderella was shown to be amused by this because they were talking about her without realizing it. Walt Disney reportedly cut the scene because he thought it made Cinderella look "spiteful" and felt the audience would lose sympathy for her.

For the first time, Walt turned to Tin Pan Alley songwriters to write the songs. The music of Tin Pan Alley would later become a recurring theme in Disney animation. Cinderella was the first Disney film to have its songs published and copyrighted by the newly created Walt Disney Music Company. Before movie soundtracks became marketable, movie songs had little residual value to the film studio that owned them and were often sold off to established music companies for sheet music publication.

The song "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" became a hit single on four occasions, including a cover version recorded by Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters. Woods beat exactly 309 girls for the part of Cinderella after some demo recordings of her singing a few of the film's songs were presented to Walt Disney. However, she had no idea she was auditioning for the part until Disney contacted her; she initially made the recordings for a few friends who sent them to Disney without her knowledge. Reportedly, Disney thought Woods had the right "fairy tale" tone to her voice.

Interestingly, almost 30 years before he made "Cinderella" into a feature-length animated film, Walt Disney already made a short film of it as the last of the Laugh-O-Gram series, as a Roaring 20's version. This short is included as an extra on the Cinderella Platinum Edition DVD.

During production, Walt Disney pioneered the use of overdubbed vocals for the song "Sing Sweet Nightingale", before it had been used by artists in studio recordings such as the Beatles. When Ilene Woods had completed the days recording of "Sing Sweet Nightingale", Walt listened and asked her if she could sing harmony with herself. She was apprehensive about the idea as it was unheard of; though she ended up singing the double recording, including second and third part harmonies. Ilene Woods reveals the innovation in an interview.[10]

The clothes also received considerable attention. A scholar has demonstrated that Salvador Dalí, with whom Disney worked on the short Destino a few months before starting Cinderella, inspired the dress that Cinderella's stepsisters tear apart and that the magic new gown worn by Cinderella at the ball references French haute couture and, more precisely, the style of Christian Dior, who traveled through the U.S. in 1947.[11]


On Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic, this includes "The Work Song" and "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" on the first disc, "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" and "So This Is Love" on the second, and "Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale" on the fourth. On Disney's Greatest Hits, "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" is included on the first volume and "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" on the second volume.


Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released February 4, 1997
Label Walt Disney

The soundtrack for Cinderella was re-released by Walt Disney Records on CD on February 4, 1997, and included a bonus demo.[12] On October 4, 2005, Disney released a special edition of the soundtrack album of Cinderella, for the Platinum Edition DVD release, which includes several demo songs cut from the final film, a new song, and a cover version of "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes".[13] The soundtrack was released again on October 2, 2012, and consisted of several lost chords and new recordings of them.[14] A Walmart exclusive limited edition "Music Box Set" consisting of the soundtrack without the lost chords or bonus demos, the Song and Story: Cinderella CD and a bonus DVD of Tangled Ever After was released on the same day.[15]

All tracks written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, Al Hoffman. 

No. TitlePerformer(s) Length
1. "Cinderella (Main Title)"  The Jud Conlon Chorus; Marni Nixon 2:52
2. "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"  Ilene Woods 4:34
3. "A Visitor/Caught in a Trap/Lucifer/Feed the Chickens/Breakfast is Served/Time on Our Hands"  Oliver Wallace; Paul J. Smith 2:11
4. "The King's Plan"  Paul J. Smith; Oliver Wallace 1:22
5. "The Music Lesson/Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale/Bad Boy Lucifer/A Message from His Majesty"  Rhoda Williams; Ilene Woods; Paul J. Smith; Oliver Wallace 2:07
6. "Little Dressmakers/The Work Song/Scavenger Hunt/A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes/The Dress/My Beads/Escape to the Garden"  James MacDonald; Oliver Wallace; Paul J. Smith 9:24
7. "Where Did I Put That Thing?/Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo"  Verna Felton; Paul J. Smith; Oliver Wallace 4:48
8. "Reception at the Palace/So This Is Love"  Ilene Woods; Paul J. Smith; Mike Douglas; Oliver Wallace 5:45
9. "The Stroke of Midnight/Thank You Fairy Godmother"  Oliver Wallace; Paul J. Smith 2:05
10. "Locked in the Tower/Gus and Jaq to the Rescue/Slipper Fittings/Cinderella's Slipper/Finale"  Oliver Wallace; Paul J. Smith 7:42
11. "I'm In The Middle Of A Muddle" (Demo Recording)   

All tracks written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, Al Hoffman, except track 12 written and composed by Larry Morey, Charles Wolcott and track 13 written and composed by Jim Brickman, Jack Kugell, Jamie Jones. 

All tracks written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, Al Hoffman. 

All tracks written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston, Al Hoffman. 


The film was originally released in theaters on February 15, 1950, in Boston, Massachusetts,[3] followed by theatrical re-releases in 1957, 1965, 1973, 1981, and 1987.[16] Cinderella also played a limited engagement in select Cinemark Theatres from February 16–18, 2013.[17]

Home media

It was released on VHS video and laserdisc in 1988 as part of the Walt Disney Classics collection. The release had a promotion with a free lithograph reproduction for those who pre-ordered the video before its release date. In 1995, the film received a Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection video issue, it went back to moratorium in 1996 but later got a DVD release in 1997. Disney then restored and remastered the movie for its October 4, 2005, release as the sixth installment of the Walt Disney Platinum Editions series. According to Studio Briefing, Disney sold 3.2 million copies in its first week and earned over $64 million in sales.[18] The Platinum Edition DVD of the original movie along with its sequels went on moratorium on January 31, 2008. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, a "Royal Edition" of Cinderella was released on DVD on April 4, 2011, to celebrate the UK Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. This release had a unique limited edition number on every slipcase and an exclusive art card.[19] Disney released a Diamond Edition on October 2, 2012, in a 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo, a 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo and in a 6-disc "Jewelry Box Set" that includes the first film alongside its two sequels. A 1-disc DVD edition was released on November 20, 2012.[20]


Cinderella currently has a score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The overview of the film is, "The rich colors, sweet songs, adorable mice and endearing (if suffering) heroine make Cinderella a nostalgically lovely charmer".

The profits from the film's release, with the additional profits from record sales, music publishing, publications and other merchandise gave Disney the cash flow to finance a slate of productions (animated and live action), establish his own distribution company, enter television production and begin building Disneyland during the decade.

Disney had not had a major hit since Dumbo. The production of this film was regarded as a major gamble on his part. At a cost of nearly $3 million, Disney insiders claimed that if Cinderella failed at the box office, then the Disney studio would have closed (given that the studio was already heavily in debt).[21] The film was a box office success and allowed Disney to carry on producing films throughout the 1950s.[22] It was the 5th most popular movie at the British box office in 1951.[23]


The film received three Academy Award nominations for Best Sound (C. O. Slyfield) lost to All About Eve, Best Original Score (Oliver Wallace and Paul J. Smith) lost to Annie Get Your Gun and Best Song for "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman) lost to Captain Carey, U.S.A..[24] At the 1st Berlin International Film Festival it won the Golden Bear (Music Film) award and the Big Bronze Plate award.[25]

In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "10 Top 10"— the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Cinderella was acknowledged as the 9th greatest film in the animation genre.[26][27]

American Film Institute recognition:

Sequels and other media

See also


  1. "Maurice Rapf obituary". The Independent. 17 July 2003. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  2. Luther, Claudia (13 April 2003). "Maurice H. Rapf, 88; Blacklisted Screenwriter Had Disney Credits". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 "Cinderella: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  4. "CINDERELLA (U)". British Board of Film Classification. March 9, 1950. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  5. 1 2 "Box Office Information for Cinderella.". The Numbers. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  6. "Disney Dates 'Cinderella' For March 2015". 24 June 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  7. AFI's 10 Top 10 Cinderella Retrieved February 2, 2013
  8. "Cinderella Character History". Disney Archives.
  9. "Jeffrey Stone, 85, was model for Prince Charming". Big Cartoon Forum. 2012-08-24. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
  10. Video on YouTube
  11. Lugli, Emanuele. "Tear That Dress Off: Cinderella (1950) and Disney's Critique of Post-war Fashion". Bright Lights Film Journal.
  12. " Mack David, Paul J. Smith, Al Hoffman, Jerry Livingston: Cinderella: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack: Music". Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  13. " Jim Brickman/Jack Kugell/Jamie Jones, Mack David/Al Hoffman/Jerry Livingston, Larry Morey/Charles Wolcott, Ilene Woods, Jamie Jones, Kimberley Locke, Mike Douglas, Rhoda Williams, Verna Felton, Wayne Brady: Walt Disney's Cinderella - Original Soundtrack: Music". Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  14. " Various Artists: Cinderella (Disney): Music". Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  16. Neil Doyle (4 March 1950). "Cinderella (1950)". IMDb. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  17. Business Wire via The Motley Fool. "Cinemark Announces the Return of Favorite Disney Classic Animated Movies to the Big Screen". Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  18. "Hand-Drawn Cinderella a Huge Hit Again". October 12, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
  19. "Cinderella: Royal Edition – The official DVD website". Retrieved 2011-04-05.
  20. Katz, Josh. "Cinderella: Diamond Edition Blu-ray". Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  21. "Cinderella". The Walt Disney Family Museum. Archived from the original on 2008-11-19. Retrieved 2009-01-24.
  22. Gabler, Neal (2006). Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. New York: Random House. pp. 476–478. ISBN 978-0-679-75747-4.
  23. "Vivien Leigh Actress of the Year.". Townsville Daily Bulletin. Qld.: National Library of Australia. 29 December 1951. p. 1. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  24. "The 23rd Academy Awards (1951) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-19.
  25. "1st Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners".
  26. "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". June 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  27. "Top Ten Animation". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  28. Disney's Cinderella KIDS

External links

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