Original Production Animation Drawing of Br'er Rabbit from "Song of the South," 1946
Original production animation drawing in red, blue, green, and graphite pencils of Br'er Rabbit from "Song of the South," 1946, Walt Disney Studios; Numbered 33 in graphite pencil lower right; Size - Br'er Rabbit: 7 x 4 1/4", Sheet: 10 x 12"; Unframed.
"Everybody's got a laughing place, a laughing place to go." - Br'er Rabbit
"Song of the South" from 1946 is a live-action/animated musical film produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures. It was based on the Uncle Remus stories collected by Joel Chandler Harris. Harris created the character of Uncle Remus in 1876 and began writing the Uncle Remus stories as a serial series to, in his words, "preserve in permanent shape those curious mementoes of a period that will no doubt be sadly misrepresented by historians of the future." President Teddy Roosevelt said of Harris, "Presidents may come and presidents may go, but Uncle Remus stays put. Georgia has done a great many things for the Union, but she has never done more than when she gave Mr. Joel Chandler Harris to American literature."
"Song of the South" was Disney's first feature film using live actors, who provided a framework for the animated segments throughout the film. The character of Uncle Remus, who was presumably a former slave, was played by James Baskett. The film includes several folk tales of the adventures of anthropomorphic Br'er Rabbit and his enemies, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear. The film's song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Song and is used often by both Disney and in popular culture. The film also inspired the Disney theme park water log attraction, "Splash Mountain."
Because of the film's depiction of black former slaves and of race relations in Reconstruction-Era Georgia; the film has been controversial since its original release. A number of critics, both at the time of its release and in later decades, have described the film as racist. Consequently, "Song of the South" has never been released in its entirety on home video in the United States.
Br'er Bear is slow-witted (compared to Br'er Fox and Br'er Rabbit) and prone to violence when provoked. He is gullible which leaves him open to being tricked repeatedly by Br'er Rabbit, even when he accompanies the more sly Br'er Fox. He may be one of the most cruel and heartless of all the Disney villains. Br'er Bear was animated by Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, and Eric Larson and was voiced by Nicodemus (Nick) Stewart, who was an American television and film actor. Stewart was best known for his role as Lightnin' (Willie Jefferson) on the "Amos and Andy" television show.
Br'er Fox is the fast talking sly fox who is always trying to trick and trap poor Br'er Rabbit. Br'er Fox was animated by Marc Davis and Ollie Johnston and was voiced by James Baskett; who also was the star of the film portraying Uncle Remus. In recognition of his warm portrayal of the famous black storyteller, Baskett was given an Honorary Academy Award; making him the very first black male performer to receive an Oscar. Br'er Rabbit was also animated by the great Walt Disney animators Marc Davis and Ollie Johnston. Johnny Lee (an African-American singer, dancer and actor) provided the voice of Br'er Rabbit. When Lee had been called to do promotion for the film, James Baskett filled in as the voice of Br'er Rabbit for "The Laughing Place" segment.
This is an extremely rare original production drawing of Br'er Rabbit from "The Laughing Place," segment of "Song of the South." The story of "The Laughing Place" is that Br'er Rabbit has been caught by both Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear. Br'er Rabbit escapes by agreeing to show his captors his 'laughin place,' which turns out to be a hidden bee hive. This drawing is from the scene when Br'er Rabbit (who is tied up with rope by Br'er Fox) spots a bee hive hidden by shrubs and says to Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear, "There is the laughing place, right through there." As Br'er Bear rushes into the bushes, Br'er Rabbit looks on and smiles. Walt Disney animator Ken O'Brien supervised this scene and this is a rare and large image of any eyes and mouth open Br'er Rabbit. Original animation artwork from "Song of the South" is rare to market, and this is a stand out piece for any vintage Disney animation collection!
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