Some of the most beloved Disney animated features are also some of the earliest, and one just recently celebrated its 75th anniversary – Bambi, which was the fifth animated feature for the studio. Though it clocked in at just 70 minutes, the story of the little white-tailed deer and his forest friends has struck an emotional chord with audiences for generations.
The story follows the idyllic life of the titular character, a young deer who will one day become the Great Prince of the Forest. Bambi lives with his mother in his early years and soon gains close friends in the form of Thumper (a rabbit), Flower (a skunk), and Faline (a fawn). While things are initially peaceful for the curious fawn, Bambi’s life is turned upside down when the human hunter known only as Man encroaches upon the forest. While trying to escape from Man, Bambi’s mother is shot and killed, and the young deer instead must learn to live without her; he then learns that the current Great Prince is his father. Upon reaching adulthood, Bambi takes it upon himself to protect his friends from Man on his own.
The original film rights to the novel, Bambi, A Life in the Woods, were actually purchased by MGM in 1933. The plan had been to adapt the story into a live-action film, but the project stalled, and the rights were sold to Disney in 1937, where it immediately entered preproduction as an animated project. One of the biggest challenges during production was making the animals both expressive while remaining lifelike; the studio’s animators had previously worked on deer for Snow White, but the end result was compared to “big flour sacks.”
Bambi finally arrived in theaters in August of 1942 – during WWII. Because of the timing, the film didn’t have access to a significant chunk of the European market at the time, and Bambi actually lost money upon its initial release. It would go on to recoup those losses and become wildly profitable upon further theatrical releases.
Fans of the film can currently bid to get their hands on a hardcover Bambi book signed by Walt Disney himself in Hake’s Americana & Collectibles’ current auction. The book contains 60 pages’ worth of content with both black-and-white and full-color images and illustrations. The front endpapers have been signed by Walt Disney in black grease pencil and features a lengthy inscription to Barbara Ann Thompson, who worked in the Civil Service for the U.S. government.
Other classic Disney fans may be interested in some Mickey-themed rarities, such as a rare Spanish Fire Truck Pull Toy in which the famous mouse happens to be the driver. This is an example of one of the many outstanding Disney toys produced in Spain in the early 1930s; it’s great for display and is the first example Hake’s has seen of this particular toy in their 51 years in the business. Also available is a Mickey-themed porcelain child’s tea set by Rosenthal, which is by far the most sought-after Mickey Mouse piece ever produced by the company. It was produced originally as a 16-piece, six-serving set and this lot is only missing just one teacup and the serving tray. Each piece is gorgeously detailed with gold luster accents. Overall this set is in excellent to near-mint condition.
Interested parties are encouraged to get their bids in soon, as this auction will close on March 15, 2018.