Tag Archives: Frank Churchill

Bambi “Love is a Song” (1942)

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On August 13th, 1942, RKO Radio Pictures released Walt Disney’s fifth animated classic Bambi, based on the 1923 novel  Bambi, a Life in the Woods, by Felix Salten. Disney actually acquired the rights to Bambi in 1937, after MGM’s attempts to turn the book into a live-action film proved to be unfeasible. Originally meant to be Disney’s second animated feature, the project became delayed (among other things, the animators discovered that animating deer realistically was no easy task) and work didn’t really get going until 1939. The score for this film proved to be the final work of composer Frank Churchill (1901-1942), who died after committing suicide following a severe bout of depression.

The film went through many stages, but the following main characters emerged:

Bambi: the son of the Great Prince of the Forest (Fred Shields); spends the first half of the story living with his unnamed mother (Paula Winslowe). Bambi’s closest friends are Thumper, a gray rabbit, and Flower, a male skunk (the name is based on a joke where Bambi, learning to speak, mistakenly thinks that Flower is, well, a flower, much to Thumper’s amusement).

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The film’s opening song (referenced again as the film closes) is “Love is a Song,” performed as the opening credits roll. The song speaks to an enduring theme in the story that love takes many forms and despite changes in life, it never really goes away.

Love is a song that never ends
Life may be swift and fleeting
Hope may die yet love’s beautiful music
Comes each day like the dawn

Love is a song that never ends
One simple theme repeating
Like the voice of a heavenly choir
Love’s sweet music flows on

Like the voice of a heavenly choir
Love’s sweet music flows on

I actually didn’t like this opening when I was younger because the themes about love went over my head (plus I wanted to get on with the story). Years later I can appreciate what “Love is a Song” is trying to say. Let me know what you think of “Love is a Song” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Bambi “Little April Shower” (1942)

Bambi “Let’s Sing a Gay Little Spring Song” (1942)

Bambi “Looking For Romance” (1942)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “I’m Wishing/One Song” (1937)

Evolution of Disney : Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Part 1

Snow White “I’m Wishing/One Song” (1937)

It’s hard to imagine, but there was a time when Disney did not completely rule the world of animation and children’s movies. Back in the 1930s, Disney was seen as a small studio that created funny cartoons, but little else. Of course Walt Disney had bigger plans, including an idea for making a full-length film that was completely animated (something unheard of at the time). What was once known as “Disney’s Folly” became known to history as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Released in 1937, the titular character is voiced by the singer Adriana Caselotti. She sings several songs over the course of the film, the first of which is “I’m Wishing,” sung to her bird friends as she gets water from the well in the castle courtyard. The melody is relatively simplistic, with many leaps from the tonic to the dominant (D to A) and back again. Before the melody returns for a final reprise (just before the Prince interjects), there is a lovely interlude where Caselotti shows off her vocal prowess and sings a call and response with her “echo” in the well.

Evolution of Disney : Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Part 1

The song serves as a good introduction for the character: she’s a young (at least teenage) girl who’s clearly done her best to be happy, but still dreams of finding true love (and probably getting away from her stepmother the Queen). The music for this song (and most of the others) was composed by Frank Churchill, who’s last work would prove to be the score for Bambi in 1942.

You wanna hear a secret?
Promise not to tell?
(sung)
We are standing by a wishing well
Make a wish into the well
That’s all you have to do
And if you hear it echoing
Your wish will soon come true

I’m wishing
(I’m wishing)
For the one I love
To find me
(To find me)
Today
(Today)

I’m hoping
(I’m hoping)
And I’m dreaming of
The nice things
(The nice things)
He’ll say
(He’ll say)

I’m wishing
(I’m wishing)
For the one I love
To find me
(To find me)
Today

It’s amazing how lifelike Snow White looks (and remember this was 1937, before computers, all of this was done BY HAND). By the way, look at the Prince below, doesn’t he remind you just a little of Prince Philip from Sleeping Beauty? This charming song is immediately followed by “One Song” sung by the unnamed Prince (his role was supposed to be larger but Disney wasn’t entirely convinced that his animators could bring a male character to life convincingly so this is the first and last time we see him until the end of the movie, where he again sings “One Song”).

Evolution of Disney : Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Part 1

Like “I’m Wishing,” “One Song” is a simple melody, well-suited for a tenor’s voice, that clearly sets out what the Prince is saying (i.e. I’ve fallen in love with you at first sight). The melody is again very simple, with a medium range of notes. Disney songs have a tendency to be very simple melodically (the idea was that this made them more appealing to children).

Now that I’ve found you
Here’s what I have to say

One Song
I have but one song
One song
Only for you

One heart
Tenderly beating
Ever entreating
Constant and true

One love
That has possessed me
One love
Thrilling me through

One song
My heart keeps singing
Of one love
Only for you

 The only question I have is, if the Prince really loves Snow White that much, why didn’t he just take her away right then and there? Where did he go after this song ends? Nevertheless, it is a sweet moment (and the look on the Queen’s face when she sees the Prince wooing her stepdaughter is priceless!) Originally, there was going to be an idea that the Prince was supposed to be coming to court the Queen, which would also explain her outrage at seeing him woo Snow White, but the idea was ultimately dropped.

What do you think of “I’m Wishing” and “One Song”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day! This is going to be the start of me re-formatting my earliest blog posts. When I first started, I wasn’t sure what the blog would look like, so I experimented with some different formats. Now I’m going to fix my early work to match what I do now. Hope you enjoy!

See also:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “With a Smile and a Song” (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “Whistle While You Work” (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “Heigh Ho” (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “Bluddle-Uddle-Um-Dum/The Washing Song” (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “The Silly Song” (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “Some Day My Prince Will Come” (1937)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook