The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

Directed by John Lounsbery & Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by Ken Anderson, Xavier Atencio, Ted Berman, Larry Clemmons, Eric Cleworth, Vance Gerry, Winston Hibler, Julius Svendsen & Ralph Wright, based on the works of A.A. Milne
Starring the Voices of Sterling Holloway, Paul Winchell, Ralph Wright, Sebastian Cabot, Junius Matthews


Anamorphic: No; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Own It.

He's Pooh (Holloway). Winnie the Pooh. You know him. Chubby cubby. Silly old ursine creature. Fluff-stuffed protagonist of many a children's story by A.A. Milne. And a staple of Disney's stable of characters. This feature, by Disney's plan, was a series of three shorts that was linked as a feature along with an epilogue. The middle section actually won an Academy Award. So you have the classic animated stories: Rabbit forced to use Pooh's butt as a conversation piece, what happens when you deny a Tigger his bounce, and the neverending quest for honey.

This is a disc for kids, make no mistake; in that respect, it's really nicely done. But now that Disney has shown they can release titles with Criterion-level coverage (see Snow White and then spend two hours reading the features list), it's hard not to want it for all their theatrical features. With that initial "Platinum Edition", they made a release that was as effective for adults as it was for tykes. But still, there are a few good things to be found.

Basically, apart from the film, the standout feature is the making-of featurette, which outlines the strategy behind releasing the shorts as such initially, how Pooh came to the attention of Walt, and so forth. It even has--my personal favorite moment--Paul Winchell doing the voice of Tigger on camera. This, along with the decent array of artwork in the gallery, are about the only portions of the disc that play well for adults.

Other features range from mildly amusing to downright time-wasting. On the mildly amusing side are the "Fun Facts" which operate as a very sparse subtitled commentary track. However, these consist mostly of cute trivia questions and not technical bits or insights into the animation or background. The theme song by Carly Simon is an okay interp, but--like the Michael Crawford bit on Dumbo--it's coupled with a really annoying music video that mixes Carly with animation from the film. When they wave at animated characters while singing...does anyone really think this is effective or cute? Gah, I say.

Cute bits for kids include the storytime about Pooh's shadow and the Sing-Along Song. Trust me, that Disney song series will get a lot of play in a house with kids. Really disappointing are the trailers/sneak peeks for the new Pooh movies. One is a theatrical feature for Piglet, the other is a Christmas/New Year direct-to-video bit. Cosette asked the question: "What if Owl is Jewish?" A sad addition, although good for historical purposes if nothing else, is the half-hour short, "A Day for Eeyore." It's amazing to see the degradation in animation quality between the release of the original three shorts and 1983, when "Eeyore" hit cinemas.

As I said, though this is a disappointing disc if you're buying for an adult audience, it's perfect if you have children. And regardless, it's the best edition of this we're probably going to see for some time. I wish they had included an audio commentary track from the likes of animation historian John Canemaker or some such feature, but alas. Like most classic Disney, it's worth picking up for the film alone.

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