Disney's Animated Classics

Live-Action/Animated Features

Since 1941, there have been eight Disney feature films which, although primarily based on live-action characters, include animated sequences or characters. These show a different dimension to the Disney animation art -- the ability to seamlessly combine animated characters with live actors, scenery, and props. The culmination of this art form was 1988's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" With the further development of computer-animation and the incorporation of more and more computer-animated elements in movies featuring real actors, the distinction between "live action" and "animated" movies has been blurred to such an extent that it is unlikely that there will be any more films quite in the same class as those listed below.

[All photos copyrighted by the Walt Disney Company]

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The Reluctant Dragon
(June 20, 1941 - 72 min.) ***
[Available on DVD on "Disney Treasures: Behind the Scenes at Walt Disney Studios"]

Plot: During a visit to Disney Studios in California, a man gets a behind-the-scenes look at how cartoons are made and enjoys several of the studio's latest creations. The animated segments are:

Casey Jr.
Old MacDonald Duck
Baby Weems
How to Ride a Horse
The Reluctant Dragon


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Victory Through Air Power
(July 7, 1943 - 65 min.) ****
[Available on DVD on "Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines"]

Plot: This was a propaganda film made by Walt Disney to promote the theories of Alexander P. Seversky concerning the use of strategic air power to defeat Germany and Japan. The film makes extensive use of animation, with narration and live segments by Seversky.


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The Song of the South
(Nov. 2, 1946 - 94 min.) *****
["Officially" available on DVD only in Europe]

Plot: When a young boy finds himself at a country estate and missing his father, who's living in the city, a former slace named Uncle Remus helps the boy face his situation by telling him stories about Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, and Brer Fox. Uncle Remus's stories are presented in animated segments.


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So Dear to My Heart
(Jan. 9, 1949 - 84 min.) ***

Plot: This mainly live-action story is about a boy who adopts a little black sheep and enters it in a county fair. The animated segments spring from the boy's scrapbook and are mean to provide the boy with moral lessons.


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Mary Poppins
(Aug. 27, 1964 - 140 min.) *****

Plot: Mary Poppins, a "practically perfect" nanny, comes to an English town to take care of the two children of a middle-class family. Includes an animated segment in which Mary Poppins, the two children in her care, and her friend Burt jump into a chalk drawing for an afternoon at a county fair.


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Bedknobs and Broomsticks
(Oct. 7, 1971 - 117/141 min.) ****

Plot: A witch-in-training, her instructor, and three orphans in her care search for a secret spell that will let her aid in the defense of the town from German invaders. Includes an animated segment in which the group travels into a storybook land in search of the secret spell.


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Pete's Dragon
(Nov. 3, 1977 - 134 min.) ***

Plot: An orphan and his pet dragon go to a seaside town to try to escape from his evil adopted family, and there they meet up with a kindly woman who takes them in. The dragon is an animated character who interacts with the live actors.


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Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
(June 22, 1988 - 103 min.) *****

Plot: Private eye Eddie Valiant tries to prove Roger Rabbit's innocence in a murder investigation, and finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy to destroy Toontown. Roger Rabbit, his wife Jessica, and a host of other cartoon characters interact with live actors throughout the story.


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Enchanted
(Nov. 21, 2007 - 108 min.) ****

Plot: An "enchanting" twist on the idea of combining animated and live action characters. Instead of live characters being thrown into the animated world, here the animated characters, including Princess Giselle and Prince Edward, find themselves in the real-life world of New York City. The animated sequence opens the story, which plays out in the real world, with support from some computer-animated critters.

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Copyright © 1996-2015 Arnold E. van Beverhoudt, Jr.
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Last Updated: November 26, 2007