“The Sword in the Stone is the 18th Disney animated feature film, and it the final animated film to be released before Walt Disney’s death. The songs in the film were written and composed by the Sherman Brothers, who later wrote music for other Disney films like Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970), and Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971).
After years of warring, England can’t agree on a new ruler. A mysterious sword appears, which claims that whoever can pull the sword from its stone will become king. After no one can do it, the test is forgotten. Many years later, Arthur––a measly servant knave known as Wart––dreams of becoming a knight, but is barely certain he may act as squire to castle lord Sir Ector’s son Kay; then, the sorcerer Merlin and his grumpy, talking owl Archimedes invite themselves to the castle and move into its dilapidated north tower. Merlin, who can magically access the future, intends to give Wart a proper education. They transform themselves into animals, face dangerous situations, and battle the Mad Madam Mim. In the end, Arthur accidentally finds the forgotten sword in the stone and becomes king.
Walt Disney first obtained the film rights to The Sword in the Stone in 1939, and the initial storyboards were produced in 1949. When work on One Hundred and One Dalmatians was completed in 1960, two projects were in development, which were Chanticleer and The Sword in the Stone. The former was developed by Ken Anderson and Marc Davis who aimed to produce a feature animated film in a more contemporary setting. Both of them had visited the Disney archives, and decided to adapt the satirical tale into production upon glancing at earlier conceptions dating back to the 1940s. Anderson, Davis, Milt Kahl, and director Wolfgang Reitherman spent months preparing elaborate storyboards for Chanticleer. When the time came to approve one of the two projects, Walt replied to Anderson’s pitch with ‘Just one word—shit!’
Meanwhile, work on The Sword in the Stone were solely done by veteran story artist Bill Peet. After Disney had seen the 1960 Broadway production of Camelot, he approved the project to enter production. Peet recalled ‘how humiliated [the other team was] to accept defeat and give in to The Sword in the Stone…They never understood that I wasn’t trying to compete with them, just trying to do what I wanted to work. I was the midst of all this competition, and with Walt to please, too.’
This was the first Disney animated feature made under a single director. Previous features were directed by either three or four directors, or by a team of sequence directors under a supervising director. The man hired for the job was veteran animator Wolfgang Reitherman, who would direct all of the Disney features up until the 1980’s.
Although Disney never knew it, he himself was Bill Peet’s model for Merlin. Peet saw them both as argumentative, cantankerous, but playful and very intelligent. Peet also gave Merlin Walt’s nose. This was the second instance in which Walt unknowingly served as model for a wizard, the first being the wizard Yensid from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia (1940).
For the voice of Merlin, director Wolfgang Reitherman estimated that seventy actors read for the part, but “none evidenced that note of eccentricity that we were seeking. We wanted Merlin to be eccentric but not hokey.” At the same time, Karl Swenson was initially cast for Archimedes, but the filmmakers decided to cast him instead as Merlin. Rickie Sorensen, who had voiced young Arthur, entered puberty during production, which forced the older Reitherman to cast his sons, Richard and Robert, to replace him.
The Sword in the Stone was a financial success at the box office and became the sixth highest-grossing film of 1963. However, it received mixed reviews from critics, who thought it had too much humor and a ‘thin narrative.’”
Today’s Disney Music of the day is It’s a Small World. Hailing from the 1964-65 Worlds Fair, this classic attraction has been a staple for anyone who has gone to Disneyland or Disney World for decades.
DATE NITE → songs walt & lillian could’ve danced to at the carnation plaza gardens ♡
1. disneyland by starlight - disneyland radio announcement 2. disneyland after dark - walt disney 3. let’s dance at disneyland - the elliott brothers 4. date nite at disneyland - the elliott brothers 5. when you wish upon a star - glenn miller 6. soda time dance - tony paris 7. plaza gardens big band - disneyland 8. moonlight bay - bing crosby 9. fly me to the moon - frank sinatra 10. moonlight serenade - glenn miller 11. dance annette/around the world - annette funicello & bobby rydell 12. swinging on a star - bing crosby 13. there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow - richard & robert sherman 14. give a little whistle - glenn miller 15. close to five - andy kirk 16. i would do anything for you - benny goodman 17. in the groove - andy kirk 18. i’ve got no strings - the andrews sisters 19. for dancers only - jimmie lunceford 20. peckin’ - benny goodman 21. heigh ho - bunny berigan 22. rose room - jimmie lunceford 23. little gate’s special - bunny berigan 24. mahogany hall stomp - louis armstrong 25. whistle while you work - larry clinton 26. nineteen twenty-five - cliff edwards 27. dixieland at disneyland - disneyland radio announcement 28. here comes the old mark twain - louis armstrong 29. the dukes at disneyland - the dukes of disneyland 30. disneyland closing credits theme - disneyland showtime [listen xxx]
Lyricist Robert B. Sherman had searched for nearly two weeks for a catchy phrase that could be Mary Poppins’ anthem. He came across the perfect title when his seven-year-old daughter Laurie came home from school one day and announced that she had just received a polio vaccine. Thinking that the vaccine had been administered as a shot, Sherman asked, “Did it hurt?” She replied, “No. They just gave it to me on a cube of sugar and I swallowed it down.” Sherman tried the idea on his brother the following morning, Richard M. Sherman put the phrase to music and “A Spoonful of Sugar” was born.
P.L. Travers never forgave Walt Disney for what she saw as vulgar and disrespectful adaptation of her “Mary Poppins” novels, unlike Saving Mr. Banks. In 1994, thirty years after the release of Mary Poppins, stage producer Cameron Mackintosh (Cats, Les Misérables, Oliver!, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon) approached Travers about a musical theatre version of her work. The author initially refused, citing the film as a reason why she would never again allow an adaptation of her “Mary Poppins” series. After several meetings, the author relented, though when Mackintosh suggested using the songs from the Walt Disney film in the production, Travers again balked. After much more pleading, Mackintosh convinced Travers to allow a stage production with the songs from the film on the strict proviso that no Americans participate in the development, and further that no one involved with the film version–including original film composers Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, both of whom were still alive and working in 1994–could participate. Mackintosh proceeded with development of the stage adaptation for several years without any involvement from Disney, per Travers’ wishes, though after the author’s death in 1996, the Walt Disney Company was allowed some degree of creative involvement and went on to co-produce the musical with Mackintosh.