Song of the South (1946)



Song of the South (1946) Front Cover DVD
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Song of the South (1946) Back Cover DVD
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The film is set on a plantation in the southern United States; specifically, some distance from Atlanta, Georgia. Although sometimes misinterpreted as taking place before the American Civil War while slavery was still legal in the region, the film takes place during the Reconstruction Era after slavery was abolished. Harris's original Uncle Remus stories were all set after the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Born in 1848, Harris himself was a racial reconciliation activist writer and journalist of the Reconstruction Era. The film makes several indirect references to the Reconstruction Era: clothing is in the newer late-Victorian style; Uncle Remus is free to leave the plantation at will; black field hands are sharecroppers, etc.

Seven-year-old Johnny is excited about what he believes to be a vacation at his grandmother's Georgia plantation with his parents, Sally and John Sr. When they arrive at the plantation, he discovers that his parents will be living apart temporarily, and he will live at the plantation with his mother and grandmother while his father returns to Atlanta to continue his controversial editorship of that city's newspaper. Distraught at his father's departure, Johnny secretly leaves for Atlanta that night with only a bindle.

As Johnny sneaks away from the plantation, he is attracted by the voice of Uncle Remus telling tales of a character named Br'er Rabbit. By this time, word had gotten out that Johnny was missing, and some plantation residents are looking for him. Johnny evades being discovered, but Uncle Remus catches up with him, befriends him, offers him food for his journey, and takes him back to his cabin, where he tells the boy the traditional African-American folktale, "Br'er Rabbit Earns a Dollar a Minute". In the story, Br'er Rabbit attempts to run away from home only to change his mind after an encounter with Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear. Johnny takes the advice and lets Uncle Remus take him back to his mother.

Johnny makes friends with Toby, a young black boy who lives on the plantation, and Ginny Favers, a poor white girl. Ginny gives Johnny a puppy after her two older brothers, Joe and Jake, threaten to drown it. Johnny's mother refuses to let him take care of the puppy, so he takes it to Uncle Remus. Uncle Remus takes the dog in and delights Johnny and his friends with the fable of Br'er Rabbit and the Tar-Baby, stressing that people shouldn't get involved with something they have no business with in the first place. Johnny heeds the advice of how Br'er Rabbit used reverse psychology on Br'er Fox and begs the Favers brothers not to tell their mother about the dog. The reverse psychology works, and the boys go to speak with their mother, then realize that Johnny had fooled them. In an act of revenge, they tell Sally about the dog. She becomes upset that Johnny and Uncle Remus kept the dog despite her order (which was unknown to Uncle Remus). She instructs Uncle Remus not to tell any more stories to her son.

Johnny's birthday arrives and Johnny picks up Ginny to take her to his party. On the way there, Joe and Jake push Ginny into a mud puddle. With her dress ruined, Ginny is unable to go to the party and runs off crying. Johnny begins fighting with the boys, but their fight is broken up by Uncle Remus, who scolds Joe and Jake. Johnny runs off to comfort Ginny. He explains that he does not want to go either, especially since his father will not be there. Uncle Remus discovers both dejected children and cheers them up by telling the story of Br'er Rabbit and his "Laughing Place". When the three return to the plantation, Sally becomes angry at Johnny for missing his own birthday party, and tells Uncle Remus not to spend any more time with him. Saddened by the misunderstanding of his good intentions, Uncle Remus packs his bags and leaves for Atlanta. Johnny rushes to intercept him, but is attacked by a bull and seriously injured after taking a shortcut through a pasture. While Johnny hovers between life and death, his father returns. Johnny calls for Uncle Remus, and his grandmother escorts him in. Uncle Remus begins telling a tale of Br'er Rabbit and the Laughing Place, and the boy miraculously survives.

Later, a fully recovered Johnny sings with Ginny and Toby while Johnny's returned puppy runs alongside them. Nearby, Uncle Remus is shocked when Br'er Rabbit and several of the other characters from his stories appear in front of them and interact with the children. Uncle Remus rushes to join the group, and together, they all skip away into the sunset.

Cast

James Baskett as Uncle Remus
Bobby Driscoll as Johnny
Luana Patten as Ginny Favers
Glenn Leedy as Toby
Ruth Warrick as Sally
Lucile Watson as Grandmother
Hattie McDaniel as Aunt Tempy
Erik Rolf as John
Olivier Urbain as Mr. Favers
Mary Field as Mrs. Favers
Anita Brown as Maid
George Nokes as Jake Favers
Gene Holland as Joe Favers

Voices

Johnny Lee as Br'er Rabbit
James Baskett as Br'er Fox and Br'er Rabbit (Laughin’ Place segment)
Nick Stewart as Br'er Bear
Roy Glenn as Br'er Frog
Clarence Nash as Bluebird
Helen Crozier as Mother Possum

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