DVD Review: Dumbo (Big Top Edition)

Disney brings out Walt Disney’s 1941 masterpiece.  They brought Dumbo out for a 60th Anniversary edition, so is this one worth the upgrade?  Read on to find out. 

Dumbo is the tale of a circus elephant.  Mrs. Jumbo is expecting a delivery, it’s not from the U.S. Postal service, but the stork.  She’s disappointed when her package doesn’t arrive and the circus pulls up stakes from their headquarters and heads for another performance.  Mrs. Dumbo’s stork (voiced by Sterling Holloway) is late because darn it a baby elephant can be heavy to carry.  He finally arrives on the train and makes his delivery.  Mrs. Jumbo and the other elephants are overjoyed and Mrs. Jumbo names the baby elephant Jumbo Jr.  However, disaster strikes and Jumbo, Jr. sneezes and his enormous ears unfurl. 

The once friendly female elephants make fun of his ears and dub him Dumbo, so Mrs. Jumbo slams the dividing door in their faces.  Disaster strikes again after the circus has set up and a annoying kid taunts Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo “attacks” him.  The Ringmaster (Herman Bing) orders Mrs. Jumbo confined.  This later leads to the tear jerking moment when Mrs. Jumbo sings a lullaby to Dumbo, sniff. 

A circus mouse overhears the Matriarch elephant (Verna Felton) and the others discussing Mrs. Jumbo’s confinement and their ostracization of Dumbo.  Timothy Q. Mouse (Edward Brophy) takes pity on the poor kid and takes him under his wing (after he scares the wits out of the old biddy elephants). 

Timothy becomes Dumbo’s friend and mentor and they try to find Dumbo’s place in the circus.  Timothy subconsciously implants that Dumbo is the answer to the Ringmaster’s idea for a big finish to the pyramid of elephants show sequence.  As usual, Dumbo’s luck doesn’t hold out and he trips on his ears and chaos ensues.  Dumbo is disowned by the other elephants and shamefully put into the clown act.  After the show, Dumbo and Timothy accidentally drink some of the coarse clown’s rotgut champagne and see “Pink Elephants on Parade.”  When they wake up they’re in a tree, but how did they get there?  The jazzy crows in the tree know and wonderfully sing “Did you ever see an elephant fly?”  Guess those ears are good for something, but how to use them in the circus? 

When I see an elephant fly

When I see an elephant fly


Dumbo earns the moniker of classic.  It’s really a wonderful, but simple, film.  It only clocks in at 64 minutes, but has an everyman quality to the poor put upon Dumbo.  Everything works from the characterizations to the wonderful songs.  Who can forget the surrealistic “Pink Elephants on Parade,” both the song and the sequence?  Daddy-o, those crows are my favorite characters and they also sing an iconic song.

Dumbo is presented in fullscreen as it was originally shown in theaters in 1941.  Disney released a 60th Anniversary edition onto DVD, with this new edition there are some new special features but it is also missing a few.  This edition says that it was digitally remastered and I think that the new version does look less grainy and has brighter, more vivid colors than the 60th Anniversary edition.  Let’s start with the new first. 

The first addition is the Disney Fast Play feature that just starts the feature and plays the video based special features so little fingers don’t have to touch the remote control.  The second is a DVD game called “Disneypedia : My First Circus” that teaches the tots about circus animals.  The final addition is a new music video of “Baby Mine” performed by Jim Brickman and Kassie DePaiva.

Missing is the Michael Crawford music video of “Baby Mine.”  Also missing are the sound design clip of Robert Benchley (taken from the Reluctant Dragon) seeing how they made Casey Jr.’s voice was done.  They also omitted the Dumbo trailers and the sneak peek at Dumbo 2 (I guess this never happened, didn’t seem like a good idea to me anyway).  The following were on the 60th Anniversary edition.  There’s an informative audio commentary by animation historian John Canemaker, and a 14 minute “Celebrating Dumbo” featurette.

It has interviews with Leonard Maltin, Andreas Deja, Don Hahn, Ron Clements, Roy Disney, Rudy Behlmer, Lisa Keene, John Canemaker, Mike Gabriel, John Musker, and Cristy Maltese.  There’s also the one minute introduction that Walt Disney did for television, Dumbo’s Big Discovery DVD storybook, two sing along songs, photo gallery, Elmer Elephant short, and The Flying Mouse short.




They even use the same animated menus from the 60th Anniversary edition and just rearrange them and add some different graphics.  They did add new Disney movie previews, but I never consider advertising a special feature. 

Owners of the 60th Anniversary edition will have to decide whether the potential better picture will make the upgrade.  The new extras are not worth upgrading for.  If you didn’t get the 60th Anniversary edition before it went out of print and love Dumbo, then by all means pick this one up. 

I’m going to give this edition 4 stars anyway because the movie is such a classic and the features are not too bad, but owners of the other edition may want to give it some thought about upgrading. 

Dumbo (Big Top Edition) is available for pre-order at Amazon. As of yet, there is not a release date for the UK. Visit the DVD’s database for more information.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.