67th Anniversary of Disney’s “Song of the South”
William Faulkner said: “The past is not dead! Actually, it’s not even past.”
The cool winds blew through the Georgia pines during those bitter sweet days of autumn during a Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah time in Atlanta.
Hollywood in 1946 was a grand year for movies many of which have become classics like:
“The Best Years of Our Lives,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Big Sleep,” and “Song of the South.” that won the 1947 Academy Award for the best song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”
At the suggestion of the Junior League and the Uncle Remus Memorial Association of Atlanta, Georgia Walt Disney and RKO Pictures agreed to hold the world premiere of Song of the South on Tuesday, the 12th day of November, in the year of our lord 1946 in Atlanta, Georgia. The theater chosen was the Fabulous Fox Theater http://www.foxtheatre.org/ on Peachtree Street.
The premiere of “Song of the South” is said to have been inspired by the gala events surrounding the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” that had drawn a half-million people to Atlanta seven years earlier and which the Junior League had also sponsored.
Walt Disney http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney made his introductory remarks for “Song of the South,” introduced the cast, then quietly left for his room at the Georgian Terrace Hotel across the street. It is written that he paced the floor and smoked cigarettes in nervous anticipation of how Atlanta would receive his movie.
“Song of the South” put the Wren’s Nest on the map which is the beautiful home of author Joel Chandler Harris located on Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., formerly Gordon Street named for Confederate General and one time Georgia Governor John B. Gordon, in Atlanta’s Historic West End District.
Joel Chandler Harris was born in 1848 in Eatonton, Georgia, where he served as an apprentice on a plantation during his teenage years. He was Associate Editor of the Atlanta Constitution where on July 20, 1879; he published “The Story of Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Fox as Told by Uncle Remus.”
Harris lived at the ‘Wren’s Nest’ a Queen Anne Victorian house from 1881 to 1908 and penned many of the Br’er Rabbit tales on the porch. Take a step back in time and join the good folks at the Wren’s Nest for daily tours and storytelling every Saturday at 1 pm.
Read more at: http://www.wrensnest.org/
Song of the South is a wonderful collection of stories that includes a blend of live action and animation, based on the popular ‘Uncle Remus’ stories by Joel Chandler Harris. It is set in the Old South after the War Between the States. The story begins with young boy Johnny (bobby Driscoll) who is sent to live on a Southern plantation with his Grandmother (Lucile Watson) while his parents are considering divorce. The movie also stars the wonderful Hattie McDaniel of “Gone with the Wind” fame.
Johnny is cheered up by a Black-Southern story teller Uncle Remus (James Baskett) who tells the young boy and other children tales about Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear whose delightful adventures are illustrated in cartoon form. Each story has a morale that Johnny carries into his daily life.
The original book of Joel Chandler Harris is hard to find and the movie’s last release was about thirty years ago. Uncle Remus, please tell us another good story.
Country singer Don Williams’ song ‘Good ole boys like me’ begins with….
‘When I was a kid Uncle Remus he put me to bed, with a picture of Stonewall Jackson above my head.’
A good bedtime story for your children and grandchildren might begin with….
‘Now, this here tale didn’t happen just yesterday, nor the day before.’Twas a long time ago. And in them days, everything was mighty satisfactual. The critters, they was closer to the folks, and the folks, they was closer to the critters, and if you’ll excuse me for saying so, ’twas better all around’—-Uncle Remus from Disney’s Song of the South.
Have a Zippy Doo Dah Day!
(Reprinted with Permission)
By: Calvin E. Johnson, Jr., Speaker, Writer of short stories, Author of book “When America stood for God, Family and Country” and Chairman of the National and Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Confederate History and Heritage Month committee.http://www.facebook.com/ConfederateHeritageMonth