Story but it also posed the self reliant individual

This preview shows page 22 - 24 out of 28 pages.

story, but it also posed the self-reliant individual in opposition to a corrupt, bureau-cratic powet structure. EvenThe Absent-Minded Professor(1961),a particularly sillyfilm, included a subtle protest against the impersonal modern world, where the av-erage man struggled to break free of financial elites, government bureaucracy, andmachine-age anxiety.^^In the post-World War ÍI world, Disney's populism was channeled into a full-fledged defense of the "American Way of Life." This ideological influence pervadeda wave of vaguely historical Disney films. Disney's version of history revived apopulist image of the AmericanWASP"folk," surrounded them with a defensive cul-" U.S.Congress,HouseofRepresentatives,CommitteeonUn-AmericanActivities,Hearings RegardingtheCommunist Infiltrationof theMotion PictureIndustry,80Cong.,1 sess., Oct. 20-24, 27-30, 1947, pp. 280-86.3^Songof the South,dir.Wilfred Jackson (Walt DisneyProductions,1946);TheStoryofRobinHood.dir.KenAnnakin (Walt DisneyProductions,1952);Twenty Thousand Leagues underthe Sea,dir.Richard Fleischer(Walt DisneyProductions,1954);TheAbsent MindedProfessor,dir.Robert Stevenson (Walt DisneyProductions,1961).
106The Journal of American HistoryJune 1995y-.. -r- ; Turn-of-the-century Marceline, Missouri. Walt Disney based his memorial to the American wayof life. Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland, in part on his childhood memories ofMarceline.Use/;/by permission from TheWaltDisney Company.tural embankment, and homogenized the social norms and characteristics of thegroup within. This cultural structure defended a sentimental view of the family, atraditional gender ideology of separate spheres, and an ethic of rugged individu-alism and productive labor. Such deeply felt films asSo Dear to My Heart(1949)andPollyanna(1960)—among Walt's favorite productions—construct historicalarchetypes of this idealized world view. Disney told a reporter,"So Dearwasespe-cially close to me. Why, that's the life my brother and I grew up with as kids outin Missouri." Director David Swift noted that''Pollyannawas Walt's favorite film.Because it made him cry. Î remember I showed him the rough cut ofPollyanna. . .and I was surprised to see him crying right there in the sweatbox." Both filmswere self-consciously didactic and nostalgic. The former, detailing the adventuresofayoung boy struggling to get his beloved black sheep to the county fair, evokesvirtuous rural life on the Kincaid family homestead in 1903. The film features anarray of comforting social figures: a pious, stern, but gentle grandmother, a hard-working and kindly blacksmith uncle, a cranky village storekeeper with a heart ofgold.Pollyannaportrays a young orphan who unites a small village community inanother turn-of-the-century setting. Faced with a depressing atmosphere of old-fashioned fatalism, Pollyanna injects joy into the town with what she calls "the gladgame," her knack for seeing the good things in life. Her influence triumphs as alonely hypochondriac overcomes her invalidism, an eccentric old hermit becomes

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture