Many of the old Disney animators found their work on "Song of the South" (in re-release, citywide) more enjoyable than any other film, and it's easy to understand why. Their adaptations of Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear from Joel Chandler Harris' "Uncle Remus" stories rank among the most vivid cartoon personalities the studio ever created.
When the wily Br'er Rabbit schemes to outwit the other two, he concentrates so intensely that every line in his body seems to be thinking. Similarly, Br'er Fox's gestures emphasize his excitable, too-smart-for-his-own-good personality, and Br'er Bear's ponderous motions demonstrate his monumental stupidity. While the vocal performances are uniformly excellent, these characters are so well animated, they can communicate thoughts and moods to the audience through pure pantomime.
"Song of the South" (1946) represented Walt Disney's first attempt to make a feature film that included extensive, dramatic live-action footage. The animation is reduced to illustrations of three stories told by Uncle Remus (James Baskett).
He tells the stories to entertain Johnny (Bobby Driscoll), a lonely rich boy who's been left at the plantation with his mother (Ruth Warrick) and grandmother (Lucille Watson). Johnny befriends Toby (Glen Leedy), a black child, and Ginny (Luana Patten), a poor white girl, but his real source of comfort and solace remains Uncle Remus. (Baskett received a special Oscar for his extraordinarily sympathetic portrayal.) From the Br'er Rabbit stories, Johnny learns how to cope with his adversaries--notably his priggish mother and Ginny's hooligan brothers.