Song of the South (1946)
Directed by Harve Foster and Wilfred Jackson

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* * *

DVD In Association with
Rent DVDs online!
In the USA:
Try Netflix For Free.In the UK:

Sometime in the late Nineteenth Century, Johnny, a young Southern boy, is brought with his mother to live with his grandmother on the latter's plantation while his father is occupied with business. There he meets a happy old former slave named Uncle Remus who tells him tales of Brer Rabbit.

Song of the South, directed by Harve Foster and Wilfred Jackson, is an almost completely uninteresting film, but it is interspersed with several absolutely beautiful and delightfully enthralling animated sequences. The movie as a whole is a failure, but the animated scenes are masterpieces.

The story the directors tell really is painfully dull and tedious. It consists of little more than Johnny's predictable, manipulative, and almost invariably cloying adventures and is unlikely ever to involve the viewer. Even the characters around whom these saccharine events revolve are all either forgettable or annoying. What is more, not only are they are overdone, hackneyed caricatures, but the acting with which they have been brought to life ranges from mediocre to inept. Bobby Driscoll, who plays Johnny, is especially dreadful.

Despite these crippling faults, the animated sequences of Song of the South so buoy up the film that it is actually worth watching. The scene in which Uncle Remus sings the song "Zipa-Dee-Doo-Dah" while interacting with various animated characters, such as Brer Rabbit, a whistling bluebird, a mother opossum, and a fishing, pipe smoking frog, is a colorful, intoxicating delight. As charming as this number is, however, the depictions of the picaresque adventures of Brer Rabbit, which are told by Uncle Remus to Johnny at various points throughout the film, are even more wonderful.

In fact, these tales are beautifully animated and alive with a vibrant energy. They are also truly immortal stories. The narrative of "Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby," for example, is at least two thousand years old, being derived from an Indian tale of an adventure of the Buddha in one of his former births. Having journeyed from India to Africa to the American South to Hollywood, the story is remarkably enduring. Moreover, not only are these narratives deliciously exciting and animated in a lovely style, but the characters appearing in them are endowed with tremendous personality.

It is difficult to evaluate South of the South. The animated sequences are among the best ever to emerge from Disney, but they are inserted in a dire, trivial, ineptly made film. The movie is certainly worth watching because of those sequences, but only because of them.

Review by Keith Allen

Home Page / Alphabetical List of Films
List of Films by Star Ratings
Aesthetic Principles / Guide to Ratings
Criteria for Inclusion / DVD Stores / Blog

© 2004 Keith Allen. All rights reserved.
Revised 2005, 2006

Click Here

banner 2