WHO’S AFRAID OF THE SONG OF THE SOUTH? AND OTHER FORBIDDEN DISNEY STORIES
By: John ’Doc’ Strange
Written by: Jim Korkis
Published by: Theme Park Press
When I was offered the chance to read and review Jim Korkis’ Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? And Other Forbidden Disney Stories, I jumped at the chance. I have been a fan of film since early childhood and a film reviewer for almost 30 years. I was stoked to gain an insight into Disney Studio’s reasoning for withholding the film for so many years. There were stories he had to tell of the problems and events which were part and parcel of the making of this film legend. I wanted to know… everything.
Jim had excellent stories of the trials and tribulations endured by Walt and his teams while creating a story they fully believed would be a masterpiece. From the beginning, the decision to make a movie centered on Chandler Harris’ fables about Uncle Remus and the animals with its setting in the Deep South was controversial.
Walt’s decision to mix live and animated action brought in a layer of difficulty but it added a way to show the stories in the format that Disney Studios has always done best. The Uncle Remus stories were mixed and manipulated to work within the context of the script that was eventually delivered following multiple writers and versions.
Jim’s stories brought the rough road from the film’s inception through its premiere and beyond to life for me. What could have been a milestone of glory was tarnished by controversy. The furor from the public over the perceived racial slurs worried the studio so much it has resisted re-releasing the film for many decades
Following the stories about Song of the South, Jim tells many additional tales about Disney and his studio. The stories range from the studio’s industrial films about menstruation to its wartime heath films about venereal disease and from Walt’s early political leanings and the files that Hoover’s FBI compiled on the man of the mouse to the television years of the Mickey Mouse Club and the Wonderful World of Disney.
People are going to buy this book to gain insight the film and its controversies. The studio’s decision to leave the film in the vault has allowed to film’s legend to percolate and grow until now more and more film aficionados are clamoring for its re-release. Sadly, many will also find some of the additional stories as dark as I did. As easy a read as the first half of the book was, the second half was at times a really rough read.
Bottom line, this book is worth buying to learn about the Song of the South but be prepared to put the book down many times during your read of the second half.