Fun and Fancy Free is a package film, but it only features two separate stories. Unlike Make Mine Music, which was made up of many unconnected shorts. The reason being that the stories, “Bongo” & “Mickey and the Beanstalk,” were both intended to be full length films. Walt Disney loved the ideas, but a lot of movies had to be put on hold during the war. Until Disney realized neither story warneted separate movies. So instead they were repackaged as Disney’s ninth animated feature.
Bongo – The first story is adapted from a short story published in Cosmopolitan magazine titled Little Bear Bongo. “Bongo” is strangely introduced by Jiminy Cricket himself. While singing a song cut from Pinocchio, Jiminy explores a house, then plays a record about Bongo. The story itself contains no dialogue. Just narration from Dinah Shore. She recounts the adventures of a little circus bear named Bongo.
The unicycle riding bear can do it all, expect be free. So Bongo runs away into the wild. Only to discover the forest is fraught with danger. At least until he meets and falls in love with a lady bear named Lulubelle. “Bongo” is obviously the more forgotten story between the two. The songs aren’t all that memorable and nobody remembers the character. Maybe it would have worked better as a Dumbo sequel.
Mickey and the Beanstalk – The second story on the other hand, is really the main attraction. “Mickey and the Beanstalk” is the official Disney adaptation of beloved fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk.” The primary difference was the use of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy in the main role. Making Fun and Fancy Free the first feature film with the full Disney trio. This was also the last time Walt Disney voiced Mickey Mouse. The film, originally titled The Legend of Happy Valley, was meant to repopularize Mickey. So although “Mickey and the Beanstalk” is the more memorable story, it has a really weird storytelling device.
Jiminy leaves the house to go to a little girl’s birthday party. Live-action child actress Luana Patten is being entertained by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his puppets Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. It’s just as weird as it sounds. Luckily the story makes up for it. They tell the tale of a beautiful harp whose kidnapping causes a great famine. Which leads to a disturbingly dark sequence of Donald Duck experiencing extreme starvation. After Mickey sells their cow for magic beans, a mighty beanstalk grows. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy climb the beanstalk and find a bountiful feast. Only to discover the famous giant is actually a loveable dimwitted giant named Willie. He may be funny, but he’s still a short-tempered threat with magical powers that the trio must overcome. “Fe Fi Fo Fum” this is a story that’s second to none.
In conclusion, my childhood memory of Fun and Fancy Free only recalled “Mickey and the Beanstalk.” As well as the confusing live-action puppet stuff. “Bongo” is just that unmemorable. Compared to the rest of the package films, Fun and Fancy Free does little to justify the two completely unrelated stories being put together. Aside from them being unfinished films. The title doesn’t really have any significance either. But that doesn’t mean Fun and Fancy Free isn’t a fun musical with fancy animation for anyone free to enjoy classic Disney.