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The Ugly Duckling (1939 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ugly Duckling
Poster for The Ugly Duckling
Poster for The Ugly Duckling
Directed byJack Cutting
Clyde Geronimi
Based on"The Ugly Duckling" by Hans Christian Andersen
Produced byWalt Disney
StarringClarence Nash (duck sounds)
Music byAlbert Hay Malotte
Animation byMilt Kahl
Eric Larson
Milt Neil
Stan Quackenbush
Archie Robin
Paul Satterfield
Riley Thomson
Layouts byDavid Hilberman
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
April 7, 1939
Running time
8 minutes 59 seconds
CountryUnited States

The Ugly Duckling (Ugly Duckling in reissues) is an animated film from 1939 by Walt Disney, based on the 1843 fairy tale "The Ugly Duckling" by Hans Christian Andersen. The film was directed by Jack Cutting and Clyde Geronimi, and released in theaters on April 7, 1939. Music was composed by Albert Hay Malotte, who was uncredited for the film. The animated short was first distributed by RKO Radio Pictures.[1]

An earlier Silly Symphony animated short based on this fairy tale had been produced in black and white in 1931. The 1939 color film won the 1940 Oscar for Best Short Subject (Cartoons),[2] and also happened to be the last entry in the Silly Symphony series, although it was branded in certain releases as a special one-shot cartoon.

In the Andersen's tale, a cygnet is harassed because of his homeliness. To his delight, he matures into a swan, the most beautiful bird of all, and his troubles are over. In this version, the baby swan's sufferings are shortened, as he is found by his family, after only a few minutes of rejection and ostracism, instead of a whole year. This abbreviated version is read by Lilo to Stitch in the 2002 Disney film Lilo & Stitch. The story has a deep impact on Stitch, who sets out to look for his real family.


An expectant mallard duck father is pacing by his wife's side. Suddenly, the mother duck's eggs begin to hatch, much to the father's delight, giving birth to four little ducklings. But then, a fifth egg hatches, revealing a mismatched white duckling, and the father argues with the mother over this. (It is implied that the father is accusing the mother of having an affair with a swan.) The ugly duckling attempts to join the duck family, but they turn their backs on him. So the duckling attempts to join a family of birds and even attempts to befriend a duck hunting decoy, but they all turn him down. The duckling feels sorry for himself and cries until a mother swan and her cygnets approach him. He joins this family and they accept him. The mother duck and her ducklings are surprised to find he has found his real family and bid him farewell.

Comic adaptation

The Silly Symphony Sunday comic strip ran a month-long adaptation of The Ugly Duckling from March 26 to April 16, 1939.[3]


The Film Daily wrote, "The Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale translated to cartoon language emerges a delight to the ear and the eye... Though the story concerns only the feathered folk, this Disney short is fused with real feeling and pathos."[4]

Home media

The short was released on December 4, 2001 on Walt Disney Treasures: Silly Symphonies - The Historic Musical Animated Classics.[5] It was included on the DVD release in the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.[6] It is also available on Disney+ with restored Silly Symphony title cards.

See also


  1. ^ "The Ugly Duckling".
  2. ^ "The 12th Academy Awards (1940) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
  3. ^ Karp, Hubie; Grant, Bob; De Maris, Merrill; Taliaferro, Al; Porter, Hank (2018). Silly Symphonies: The Complete Disney Classics, vol 3. San Diego: IDW Publishing. ISBN 978-1631409882.
  4. ^ "Short Subject Reviews". The Film Daily. 74 (81): 8. October 12, 1938. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  5. ^ "Silly Symphonies: The Historic Musical Animated Classics DVD Review". DVD Dizzy. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  6. ^ "The Ugly Duckling - The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts". Archived from the original on 2016-04-08. Retrieved 2016-04-15.

External links

This page was last edited on 21 February 2022, at 22:14
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