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''Fun and Fancy Free'' repackaging

Fibs and tactics such as calling it the last film in which Walt Disney voiced Mickey Mouse color the video release of the 1947 movie

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Jiminy Cricket, best known as Pinocchio’s conscience, is also the star of the Walt Disney Co.’s best-selling video release Fun and Fancy Free. But surely the honest little cricket would be abashed if he could see the way Disney’s marketeers have repackaged the 1947 feature film — a pair of unrelated, patched-together stories never rereleased in theaters — into a No. 1-selling 1997 video with the help of some fibs, finessings, and not-the-whole-truth tactics. For example:

THE CAST LIST. On the video’s front dust-jacket picture you’ll find Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy, who look to be the only stars of the picture. Nowhere on the jacket will you see or find any mention of the people who actually get top billing in the movie itself: Dinah Shore, who tells the circus-bear story Bongo in song, and ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (father of Candice), who introduces and then narrates, along with his dummy pals Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, a Mickey and the Beanstalk fairy tale.

THE MEN BEHIND THE MOUSE. Much is made on the back jacket of the fact that Fancy Free was ”the last animated feature starring Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey Mouse.” Not until you examine the ”commemorative booklet” inside does anybody fess up that in fact a good chunk of Mickey’s Fun voice tracks were done by sound-effects man Jim Macdonald, who took over for Walt’s squeaky falsetto from this movie onward. The booklet says Walt ”no longer had time” to do Mickey; one Disney-published filmography suggests it was equally likely that Walt’s heavy smoking had deepened his voice so much that he couldn’t summon the requisite pitch.

THE SUPERLATIVES. Fancy Free is declared a ”masterpiece” twice on the tape’s front cover. Gee, something’s really goofy here: Film critic Leonard Maltin, interviewed in a making-of program that follows the feature on tape, will only concede it’s ”just an entertaining film that’s really well done.” And in his book The Disney Films, Maltin declares that Fancy Free is ”pleasant enough…but hardly outstanding.”

So who put this video package together — Pinocchio?