This Disney charmer is also the studio's most controversial production. Set in the Reconstruction South, it stars Bobby Driscoll as Johnny, a white little boy who goes to live on his grandmother's plantation after his parents separate. Upset by things he can't understand, Johnny runs away
and meets former slave Uncle Remus (James Baskett). Uncle Remus decides to trick Johnny into going home, telling the boy he would also like to run away, but must stop home for a few things. As Uncle Remus packs, he tells Johnny a story, and the film moves into a marvelous combination of live
action and animation in a bright cartoon setting in which Brer Rabbit, too, has an adventure while running away from home. SONG OF THE SOUTH's cartoon sequences are as fine as anything produced by the Disney animators. The live action projected into a cartoon setting transcends gimmickry, with the
actors and caricatures carefully matched within the frame. Baskett's excellent performance (for which he received an honorary Academy Award) makes the technique work that much better. The film's idyllic portrayal of the Reconstruction setting was controversial, however, particularly among black
Americans. The NAACP and the National Urban League, among others, protested the stereotypes in the film, though Disney officials of course maintained the film was "a sincere effort to depict American folklore, to put the Uncle Remus stories into pictures." Included is the well-known song "Zip A
Dee Doo Dah."
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