By Amanda Pizzolatto (Rated G)
With the ongoing direction of turning Disney’s cartoon classic movies into live action adaptations, some that work, others that don’t, many seem to forget that live action fairy tales were the norm when Disney was doing animated movies. One of these was a mini series put together and hosted by Shelley Duvall; another was put together and hosted by Shirley Temple.
Shelley Duvall gathered a bunch of big names to help bring a selection of fairy tales to life. Well known actors of the time included Robin Williams, James Earl Jones, Leonard Nimoy, Carrie Fisher, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Susan Saradon, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Reeve, Melissa Gilbert, and so many more, brought classics like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Rapunzel, Thumbelina, and Snow White to the screen, amidst a lot of fun. The episodes can be found on YouTube or on DVD and are certainly worth checking out. Some will no doubt become instant favorites, some will grow on you, while others just won’t do it, despite being fairly well done. It should get one complete watch-through, and most likely a second to pick out your favorites, the ones you will find yourself returning to again and again.
Shirley Temple also did a show similar to Shelley Duvall, packed with big names, but while The Little Mermaid is on the list, her episodes consisted more of literary fantasy. Episodes based on Princess and the Goblin (the only other adaptation besides the cartoon), House of the Seven Gables, Land of Oz, Madeline, Babes in Toyland, and The Reluctant Dragon, among others. While some of the performances come off a tad over the top, it is obvious the actors are having fun, even the child actors. Just like with the Shelley Duvall series, there are some that will become instant favorites, others will grow on you, yet others will get one viewing and be forgotten about as it just didn’t quite work for you.
The Shelley Duvall series is the shortest with twenty-seven episodes, while the Shirley Temple show had forty-one, yet of the two, the Shelley Duvall is the easier to find. Only a select few of the Shirley Temple episodes can be found on DVD and streaming sites like Tubi. But if you do find the complete series, I hope you enjoy every single bit, for it’s a real treat. And while the Shelley Duvall one is easier to find complete, it’s not exactly very common either and is also quite the treat. I hope you give both a chance and enjoy!