Thursday, May 21, 2015

1938 Picturegoer Magazine on UK Censorship

Errol Flynn appears on the cover of issue No. 353 of Picturegoer: The Screen's Most Popular Magazine. Published in the United Kingdom, the weekly fan periodical was dated February 26, 1938, two days after the London premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In an open letter to Walt Disney, the editor takes a stance in flavor of the motion picture being censored. Without yet having seen it, he makes the statement that "the film is calculated to frighten children."

The movie was originally given the "A" rating, meaning it was approved for adults but not necessarily children. In the letter, the author goes on to say, "Theoretically, the 'A' designed to give parents the right to decide for themselves what their children shall or shall not see on the screen." Eventually, the British Board of Film Censors would change their rating to "U"--suitable for all audience.

 Image scans courtesy of Greg Philip, author of A Lost Film blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

British Board of Film Censors & Snow White

The British Board of Film Censors (today referred to as the British Board of Film Classification) was the movie industry organization responsible for the attempted 1938 United Kingdom censorship of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Upon seeing it in February of that year, the Board felt that the dark forest scenes, and those with the Old Witch, would be too frightening for young viewers. As a result, they gave the movie an "A" rating, meaning it was more suited for an adult audience. Children under 16 could not attend, unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

This, of course, would not have sat well with the Disney Studio, particularly the thought of having to cut scenes to reverse the rating. And it certainly wasn't appreciated by thousands of young British moviegoers. A public uproar ensued, the media got into the debate, and Walt Disney couldn't have asked for better publicity. Within a couple weeks, officials from several of the largest counties had taken it upon themselves to watch the film and come to their own conclusions. Per county, the initial "A" certificate was soon changed to a general audience "U" rating.

According to the Hollywood Reporter (April 26, 1938, p. 5), Snow White was even screened at Buckingham Palace for the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, whom at the time would have been 11 and 8 respectively. With news like this, any holdout counties would soon have followed with their own updated film certificate.

An original 1938 British Board of Film Censors certificate is shown here with the "A" classification. Graphite black paper, signed in white ink by the board president William Tyrrell, (Tyrrell of Avon) and initialed by two examiners--their identities were kept secret. Certificate dimensions 25.5 x 20.5cm. Sold at auction in 2014 by Ted Owen & Company, London. Included in the lot was a film negative of it.

Later releases of Snow White saw the general audience "U" designation, as in this next certificate. It dates from the early 1960s when former Deputy Prime Minister, Herbert Morrison, had been appointed the Board president. His signature reads, Morrison of Lambeth.

Photos via the Ted Owen & Company auction page. Special thanks to Greg Philip of A Lost Film for locating these images.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

1938 RKO Danish Theatre Program for Snow White

Here's a 24 page program that would have been handed out to moviegoers in Denmark during the 1938 run of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Snehvide og de syv Dværge). Like most playbills, the booklet contains information about the picture, as well as a number of advertisements. RKO and Gloria-Film are listed as the distributors.

On the title page, the movie's characters (personerne) are named, but the actors whose voices were employed are not. This was how Walt Disney wanted it back in 1938, thinking that if the audience knew who was playing the role, it would take away from the character on screen. And since this is an official RKO publication, it adhered to Walt's directive. However, as we saw in an earlier Archive entry, other Danish publications openly credited the actors, something that at the time wasn't done in most countries.

The first few pages introduce the Snow White story and Walt Disney. Plus there's the Danish lyrics to the I'm Wishing song and a writeup on live-action reference model Marge Belcher as "the living Snow White" (Den levende Snehvide).

A Snow White record advertisement from His Master's Voice (RCA) & Columbia appears on page 8; some facts and figures (nogle tal der taler) about the film on page 9.

The lyrics to With a Smile and a Song (Med et Smil og en Sang).

Snow White merchandise for children including a doll book, board game, and coloring book.

Gustaf Tenggren's log scene.

Page 14-17: an advertisement by Wilhelm Hansen music publishers for Snow White songs; recipes for Snow White's fritters, Grumpy's bread pudding, and Dopey's cake; lyrics for Whistle While You Work and Dig, Dig, Dig.

The Witch's poison apple spell, plus an ad for a Dopey bracelet. Contest prizes and Snow White toothbrushes.

Page 20: a Polyphon Records ad for Teddy Peterson and His Orchestra with Annie Jessen (the Danish voice of the princess) and Valdemar David singing the songs from Snow White. Page 21: a set of eight soap figures like the ones by Lightfoot Schultz (seen in an earlier Archive entry).

Page 22: a list of the Dwarf names as they appear in eight different languages: Danish, English, French, Swedish, German, Italian, Polish, and Portuguese. Page 23: an ad for different size Snow White dolls, sold exclusively at Magasin du Nord, a Danish department store chain.

On the back cover is what appears to be an advertisement aimed at businesses--encouraging applications for Danish licenses for the manufacture and marketing of all types of goods attached to Walt Disney's characters. 'Help them to double their turnover' (hjælpe Dem til at fordoble Deres Omsætning ).

Special thanks to Holger Paulsen for sharing these images found online.

Friday, May 15, 2015

1938 The Story of Sneezy

The Story of Sneezy is one of eight books in the Snow White "Story of" series. Dimensions: 7.5" x 11". 24 pages (not including covers). Produced in 1938 by Whitman Publishing Company.

The first tale takes place "a month or two after Snow White had gone" to live with the Prince. The Dwarfs had been keeping up on their dusting of the cottage, and as a result, Sneezy was not sneezing as much. Surprisingly, this actually made him depressed.

In the second story, Sneezy becomes the cook--until he attempts a gooseberry pie.

And then he and Bashful each want to make Snow White a gift, but Sneezy gets sick.

Illustrations and text copyright Disney/Whitman Publishing Company, 1938. Posted here for historical documentation purposes only.
Image scans courtesy of Greg Philip of A Lost Film.

There's more to read in an earlier Archive entry.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Catalog Pages for Snow White Balloons by Oak Rubber Co.

Due to their inherent ephemeral nature, balloons produced during the premiere run of Snow White are not the easiest of things to come by. We can, however, get a pretty good idea of what they looked like by perusing some of the catalogs of the era.

The primary licensee of early Disney balloons was the Oak Rubber Company of Ravenna, Ohio. Their Oak Hytex Toy Balloons were made from virgin rubber and came in different shapes and sizes--round, tall, some with ears or noses, others with attachable feet. A wholesale catalog (no. 389) was issued in 1938 (48 glossy full-color pages, 7.75" x 10.75").

Fifteen pages featured Disney character balloons, with two dedicated to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Round balloons were imprinted with illustrated scenes on one side and text on the other (10" and 12" diameter versions). The paddle-shaped "airships" featured individual characters (7" x 18"). The "toss-up" novelties came with cardboard feet (13" or 20" high versions). All are printed with two colors except for the dwarf toss-ups.


A 1939 "Practical Sales Promotion Plans" booklet. "How To Increase Sales With Oak-Hytex Balloons" (16 pages, 3.75" x 7").

The inside cover show a variety of balloons including a yellow/red Dopey toss-up toy, a green/yellow Snow White paddle-shape, and a blue/red toss-up.

The text includes games and promotional schemes involving balloons.


A four-page glossy supplement to catalog no. 389 was published in 1940.

A 20" Dopey toss-up balloon is pictured with red and yellow colors. Cardboard feet.

Oak Rubber Catalogs via pezdudewelch and Hakes.


Oak Hytex Toy Balloons were also available in other 1938 wholesale catalogs. The N. Shure Company of Chicago was offering the 20" Snow White toss-up for 35¢/dozen or $4.00/gross. An illustration of Snow on one side, the dwarfs on the other.

The same toss-up also appeared in the Gellman Brothers publication. Identical price for the two-side illustrated balloon, but slightly cheaper for ones without the dwarfs. The catalog also included the paddle-shaped balloons for $2.25/assorted gross.

On the next page, we see the one-color toss-up dwarfs for $1.00/gross. The round "print" balloons are also pictured for $3.05/gross (10") and $3.50/gross (12").

Additional catalog pages via gdawg.


Twenty years later, the Oak Rubber Company was still producing Disney balloons that were featured in the 1958 US Snow White pressbook (p.6).