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Blu-ray Release: Six Disney Classics

August 12, 2014

Along with Bears and Muppets Most Wanted, Disney is also releasing half a dozen of their classics for the first time on Blu-ray today, the first two as a combo pack and the other four on their own.  I had fun working my way through this stack of new releases over the weekend, and I think other Disney fans are going to feel the same way…

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad:Fun and Fancy Free Blu-ray

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad and Fun and Fancy Free: Released in 1949, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad combines an entertaining take on The Wind in the Willows with a stunning musical retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, respectively narrated by Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby.

First released in 1947, the very charming Fun and Fancy Free is hosted by Jiminy Cricket and Edgar Bergen, bringing together the adorable short story Bongo, about a circus bear escaping to the wild and falling in love, with the amusing fairy tale adaptation Mickey and the Beanstalk.

Boasting some beautiful animation, both films are still quite entertaining and worth seeing, with Fun and Fancy Free being the last animated feature to star Walt Disney himself as the voice of Mickey Mouse.  A pair of less widely available classics from the studio, this set is an invaluable release for Disney fans looking to complete their libraries.

The Blu-ray set also includes The Reluctant Dragon, a feature length production diary from 1941 that takes us on a tour of the studio, switching between black and white and Technicolor, with four short animated segments worked into the 73 minute running time.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is 68 minutes and rated G.  Fun and Fancy Free is 73 minutes and also rated G.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks Blu-ray

Bedknobs and Broomsticks: When siblings Charlie (Ian Weighill), Carrie (Cindy O’Callaghan) and Paul (Roy Snart) are evacuated during WWII, they are sent to live with the kind witch Miss Price (Angela Lansbury).  Looking for a spell that could help end the war, she takes them to London on a flying bed where they meet Professor Emelius (David Tomlinson), who happens to be a charlatan.

The film takes a detour into animation when they travel to the Isle of Naboombu, mixing the actors with cartoon animals in a feat of Oscar-winning visual effects.  Perhaps the most memorable aspect of this 1971 film is the Sherman Brothers music, including the incredible extended number “Portebello Road.”  Although running a little long, despite being whittled down from a much longer cut, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a fairly entertaining fantasy, and fans are sure to be pleased with this new edition.

The Blu-ray includes a bunch of deleted and extended scenes and songs, and a featurette on the music.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is 117 minutes and rated G.

Hercules Blu-ray

Hercules: Although the son of Greek Gods Zeus (Rip Torn) and Hera (Samantha Egger), Hercules (Tate Donovan) was raised an on earth and must become a true hero in order to reclaim his immortality, which includes battling the evil Hades (James Woods) and protecting his love interest Meg (Susan Egan).

Oscar-nominated for the song “Go the Distance,” this 1997 take on mythology has a great soundtrack and is simply a lot of fun.  I have fond memories of enjoying Hercules back when I was a kid, and the film still holds up as a stylized and very entertaining animated fantasy, filled with some big laughs and a dose of the classic Disney heart.

The Blu-ray includes a “making of” featurette, as well as a sing-along track and the music video for “No Importa La Distancia” with Ricky Martin.

Hercules is 93 minutes and rated G.

Tarzan Blu-ray

TarzanAfter his parents are killed, a young baby is adopted by the kind gorilla Kala (Glenn Close) and raised with the other apes, given the name Tarzan.  But when he meets explorer Jane Porter (Minnie Driver), the adult Tarzan (Tony Goldwyn) must decide between staying in the jungle and protecting his family, or embracing his human side.

There are many reasons why 1999 is considered among the best years for movies, and Tarzan is one of them.  From the haunting wordless opening, to the unforgettable soundtrack from Phil Collins including the beautiful Oscar-winning song “You’ll Be in My Heart,” everything about the film still feels fresh after fifteen years.  Entertaining, thrilling and also moving, Tarzan is one of Disney’s best and most mature films, a sweeping adventure story filled with breathtaking animation and a beating heart.

The Blu-ray includes deleted scenes, several featurettes and the original music video for “You’ll Be in My Heart.”

Tarzan is 88 minutes and rated PG.

The Three Musketeers Blu-ray

Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers: When Princess Minnie (Russi Taylor) is kidnapped by Pete (Jim Cummings) and his trio of bad guys, it’s up to janitors Mickey (Wayne Allwine), Donald (Tony Anselmo) and Goofy (Bill Farmer) to become Musketeers just like their heroes, and return her to the throne.

With musical narration, the film was released direct to video in 2004, and looks especially crisp on Blu-ray.  Although not in the same league as these other classics, at just over an hour, Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers is an amusing way to spend time with these classic characters, especially for younger kids.

The Blu-ray includes deleted scenes, cast commentary, some sing along tracks and a dance video to the song “All For One and One For All.”

Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers is 68 minutes and rated G.

-John Corrado

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