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Directed byBen Sharpsten
Written byHelen Aberson (book)
Harold Perl (book)
Otto Englander (story direction)
Joe Grant
Dick Huemer
Produced byWalt Disney
StarringEdward Brophy
Herman Bing
Margaret Wright
Sterling Holloway
Cliff Edwards
Nick Stewart
James Baskett
Jim Carmichael
Hall Johnson
Music byFrank Churchill
Oliver Wallace
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
October 23, 1941
Running time
64 minutes
Budget$813,000 USD
Box office$1.6,000,000

Dumbo is a 1941 American animated movie. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions. It was first released on October 23, 1941 by RKO Radio Pictures. The fourth movie in the Walt Disney Animated Classics, Dumbo is based upon a child's book of the same name by Helen Aberson and illustrated by Harold Perl. The main character is Jumbo Jr., a baby elephant who is cruelly nicknamed Dumbo. He is ridiculed for his big ears, but in fact he is capable of flying by using them as wings. Throughout most of the movie, his only true friend aside from his mother is the mouse Timothy, making fun of the stereotype between mice and elephants. Dumbo was made to make up for the damages of Pinocchio and Fantasia. The movie has been criticized in recent years as being "racist" (the leader crow in the movie was named "Jim Crow" and at some point in the 1950s was renamed "Dandy Crow" in attempt to avoid controversy, but the original name is still the one mostly known, although it was supposed to be just a sarcastic mockery to the Jim Crow laws in the Southern USA back then and was used only on the character's model sheets), yet is also considered to be one of Disney's best movies. It was an attempt to be simple and make profits for the Disney studio, is now generally regarded as a classic of animation. At 64 minutes, it is one of Disney's shortest animated features.

The story[change | change source]

Florida, 1941. Mrs. Jumbo sadly looks on how babies are delivered by the stork to other circus animals. As even a baby elephant makes a pretty heavy package, hers is the last to arrive, but soon becomes the laughing stock of the others because of his big ears, getting meanly named "Dumbo" by the others. When Mrs. Jumbo can not take the public making fun of her son, she is locked up as "mad elephant", and Dumbo finds himself all alone. A mouse named Timothy comes and scares the mean herd. He encourages Dumbo and tells the circus director to make Dumbo the top (literally) of an elephant pyramid stunt which ends up literally bringing the house down, and Dumbo is given the job of "baby clown" in a repetitive, humiliating and dangerous number as punishment. To cheer Dumbo up, Timothy brings him to go see his mother. The next morning, they find themselves up in a tree with a bunch of crows, who discover that Dumbo can fly.

Cast[change | change source]

Crew[change | change source]

Uncredited crewmen:

Characters[change | change source]

Dumbo the Flying Elephant[change | change source]

Dumbo is the main character in the movie. He is a fictional anthropomorphic elephant who has really big ears. He can fly using his big ears. Similar to Dopey from Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs and Gideon in Pinocchio, Dumbo has no spoken dialogue. However, in the live-action/puppet television series Dumbo's Circus, Dumbo was voiced by Katie Leigh.

In the movie, Dumbo is delivered by Mr. Stork, and is made fun of for the strange size of his ears. As his mother, Mrs. Jumbo, beats up the bullies who pick on her baby, the ringmaster has his helpers chain her up and lock her up in a trailer, which says: "MAD ELEPHANT". It is then that Timothy Q. Mouse looks after Dumbo. The two of them try to make Dumbo famous and get his mother free. Thanks to the help of a "magic feather" from some crows, Dumbo flies to fame, and gets his mother free.

Timothy the Mouse[change | change source]

Timothy Q. Mouse is a mouse who became the only friend of elephants Dumbo and his mother Mrs. Jumbo. He teaches Dumbo how to become the ninth wonder of the universe, and the only flying elephant in the whole world.

Mrs. Jumbo[change | change source]

Mrs. Jumbo is Dumbo's mother. Deeply depressed at not having her baby delivered, she loves her son more than anything. She becomes angry when the boys pick on him.

Other characters include the other elephants who also make fun of Dumbo, the Ringmaster, the clowns of the circus, the Pink Elephants, Mr. Stork and the Crows who give Dumbo the "magic feather" and teach him to fly.

Release[change | change source]

Even though World War II was going on, Dumbo was still the most financially successful Disney movie of the 1940s. This was one of the first of Disney's animated movies to be broadcast, albeit severely edited, on television, as part of Disney's anthology series. The movie then received another distinction of note in 1981, when it was the first of Disney's canon of animated movies to be released on home video and also was released in the Walt Disney Classics Video Collection in 1985. That release was followed by remastered versions in: 1986, 1989, 1991 (Classics), and 1994 (Masterpiece). In 2001, a 60th Anniversary Special Edition was released that has original RKO titles. In 2006, a "Big Top Edition" of the movie was released on DVD that also has original RKO titles. A UK Special Edition was released in May 2007 and was a successful Disney release.

Country Premiere
 United States October 31, 1941
 Brazil November 17, 1941
 Nicaragua December 24, 1941
 United Kingdom February 8, 1942
 Canada March 31, 1942
 Chile May 23, 1942
 Australia June 4, 1942
Republic of Ireland Ireland June 5, 1942
Mexico Mexico July 9, 1942
 Argentina August 10, 1942
 Portugal November 30, 1942
 Sweden September 16, 1946
 Belgium April 25, 1947
 France October 25, 1947
 Norway December 26, 1947
 Denmark June 25, 1948
 Hong Kong August 19, 1948
 Colombia September 16, 1948
 Finland October 1, 1948
 Italy October 2, 1948
Argentina-Chile Argentinian inChilean Spanish October 15, 1948
 Poland October 23, 1949
 Netherlands July 25, 1951
 West Germany April 8, 1952
 Austria May 22, 1953
 Japan March 12, 1954
 Lebanon May 14, 1968
 Kuwait October 14, 1986

Theatrical release history[change | change source]

United States[change | change source]

  • October 23, 1941 (original release)
  • May 25, 1949 (the final RKO release)
  • June 6, 1959 (the first Buena Vista release)
  • June 3, 1977

Worldwide[change | change source]

Home video release history[change | change source]

Reception[change | change source]

The movie received very good reviews and did well at the box office despite being released less than 2 months before World War II.

It also has been known as both a classic and a masterpiece, and has received a Special Edition 60th Anniversary Disney DVD on October 23, 2001, exatly 60 years after its first release. That release featured a sneak peek of a direct-to-video sequel called Dumbo 2. The preview showed a lot of sketches and storyboard ideas. The main story has to do with Dumbo and his new friends getting separated from the rest of the circus as they wonder into the big city. Dumbo's new friends are Claude and Lolly the twin bears who leave chaos everywhere they go, Dot the curious zebra, Godfrey the hippo who is older and wants to do things for himself, and Penny the adventurous ostrich. Timothy returns as well. The story was supposed to be as if the first Dumbo ended and this one started the next day. The project seems to have been canceled,as no further announcements have been made since, plus the fact that The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, Tinker Bell, and its sequels, were to be the last projests for DisneyToon Studios.

The crow characters in the movie are often seen as African-American stereotypes. The leader crow voiced by Cliff Edwards was originally named "Jim Crow" for script purposes. The other crows are all voiced by African-American actors and singers, all members of the Hall Johnson Choir: Nick Stewart, James Baskett, Jim Carmichael and Hall Johnson. The late famous duo of African-American dancers Freddie and Eugene Jackson were invited and hired by Disney to work as live-action reference and models for the animators of the characters, like the chief-animator and Disney Legend Ward Kimball, improvising dances and movements then used in the iconic musical sequence "When I See An Elephant Fly". Despite suggestions of racism by writers like Richard Schickel, many historians, critics, writers, pundits and personalities such as John Grant, Leonard Maltin, John Canemaker, Floyd Norman, Eric Goldberg, Alex Wainer, Michael Wilmington, Whoopi Goldberg and Neal Gabler reject these claims. For instance, the crows are noted as forming the majority of the characters in the movie who are empathetic and sympathetic to Dumbo's plight (the others are Timothy Q. Mouse and Mrs Jumbo), they are free spirits who serve nobody, and intelligent characters aware of the power of self-confidence and of what means being ostracized and marginalized, unlike the Stepin Fetchit stereotype common at that time and in the previous decade. Furthermore, their song "When I See An Elephant Fly" is more orientated to mocking Timothy Mouse than Dumbo's large ears.

Soundtrack listing[change | change source]

  1. Main Title (01:47)
  2. Look Out For Mister Stork (02:16)
  3. Loading The Train / Casey Junior / Stork On A Cloud / Straight From Heaven / Mother And Baby (04:58)
  4. Song Of The Roustabouts (02:38)
  5. Circus Parade (01:28)
  6. Bathtime / Hide And Seek (01:31)
  7. Ain't That The Funniest Thing / Berserk / Dumbo Shunned / A Mouse! / Dumbo And Timothy (03:23)
  8. The Pyramid Of Pachyderms (01:58)
  9. No Longer An Elephant / Dumbo's Sadness / A Visit In The Night / Baby Mine (03:34)
  10. Clown Song (01:00)
  11. Hiccups / Firewater / Bubbles / Did You See That? / Pink Elephants On Parade (06:07)
  12. Up A Tree / The Fall / Timothy's Theory (01:32)
  13. When I See An Elephant Fly (01:48)
  14. You Oughta Be Ashamed (01:10)
  15. The Flight Test / When I See An Elephant Fly (Reprise) (00:57)
  16. Save My Child / The Threshold Of Success / Dumbo's Triumph / Making History / Finale (02:14)
  17. Spread Your Wing (Demo Recording) (01:08)

Songs[change | change source]

  • Baby Mine (Betty Noyes)
  • Casey Junior (The Sportsmen)
  • Look Out for Mr. Stork (The Sportsmen)
  • Song of the Roustabouts (The King's Men)
  • The Clown Song (A.K.A."We're gonna hit the big boss for a rise") (Billy Bletcher, Eddie Holden and Billy Sheets)
  • Pink Elephants on Parade (The Sportsmen)
  • When I See an Elephant Fly (Cliff Edwards and the Hall Johnson Choir)
  • When I See an Elephant Fly (Reprise)

Media and marketing[change | change source]

Dumbo's Circus[change | change source]

Dumbo's Circus was a live-action puppet television programme for preschool audiences that aired on The Disney Channel in the 1980s. Unlike in the movie, Dumbo spoke on the show. Each character would perform a special act, which ranged from dancing and singing to telling knock knock jokes.

Books[change | change source]

Walt Disney's Dumbo
Happy to Help: (ISBN 0-7364-1129-1) A picture book Disney Press by Random House Disney, written by Liane Onish, illustrated by Peter Emslie. It was published January 23, 2001, this paperback is for children age 4-8. Twenty-four pages long, its 0.08 inches thick, and with cover dimensions of 7.88 x 7.88 inches.
Walt Disney's Dumbo Book of Opposites
(ISBN 0-307-06149-3) A book published in August 1997 by Golden Books under the Golden Board Book brand. It was written by Alan Benjamin, illustrated by Peter Emslie, and edited by Heather Lowenberg. Twelve pages long and a quarter of an inch thick, this board edition book had dimensions of 7.25 x 6.00 inches.
Walt Disney's Dumbo the Circus Baby
(ISBN 0-307-12397-9) A book published in September 1993 by Golden Press under the A Golden Sturdy Shape Book brand. Illustrated by Peter Emslie and written by Diane Muldrow, this book is meant for babies and preschoolers. Twelve pages long and half an inch thick, this book's cover size is 9.75 x 6.25 inches.

Theme parks[change | change source]

Dumbo the Flying Elephant is a popular ride that appears in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom,[1] Disneyland,[2] Tokyo Disneyland,[3] Disneyland Park (Paris), and Hong Kong Disneyland.[4]

Video games[change | change source]

Dumbo appears as a hero in the game Kingdom Hearts. Sora, the main character, flies on him and Dumbo splashes enemies with water from his trunk.[5]

Titles in other languages[change | change source]

(NOTE: Most of the above titles were later renamed simply Dumbo.)

Directing animators[change | change source]

Sequence directors[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]