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1-21-08 Song of the South Jack Hogan on Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit et al

................ Jack Hogan (BHS 1954): I remembered the animated parts of the movie and the stories of Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear and Brer Fox, but did not remember the story of Uncle Remus and the young white boy who wanted to run away to Atlanta to be with his father. ..

AVOC

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January 19, 2008

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Song of the South – Jack Hogan on Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit et al

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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A recent email from Jack Hogan (Bogart High School 1954) brought back memories of the 1940s.   My first experience with Song of the South turned out to be a big disappointment.

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The movie received a lot of advance publicity and we had seen previews.   My brother, Terry, and I were excited with anticipation of seeing the movie.   I was six and he was five.   Dan was only 2.  On the Saturday Morning that my mother took my brother and me to see it, we were turned away at the Theatre Door.   At that time (I remember it being the Georgia Theatre), a bread company was advertising by sponsoring movies.   The “admission ticket” was two bread loaf wrappers.   We lived several miles away in the country and did not know that was required.

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After that Mama and Mama Hassie “saved” loaf bread wrappers so we could go to future movies.  We later got to see Song of the South.   As a six year old, I was struck by the music, animation and the morals of the tales told by Uncle Remus.

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Like so much in our society, Song of the South became racially controversial.  It has not been shown much since even though it won an Academy Award at the time.

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Inspired by Jack Hogan, I went online and ordered and received a DVD of the movie.  My wife and I enjoyed watching it.   It has a lot of terrible grammar but it has no race slurs.   In fact it shows the plantation owner’s grandson playing with a black boy and having a great time.It has much “home-spun” philosophy.  It also represents a culture and dialects long gone.

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To me it is a sad commentary on our society that this classic is relegated to “second class” status while “rap music”, ‘ghetto slang” and Chicago Gangsters are glorified.

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Like Jack, I am glad the movie is available.   Folks can watch it and draw their own conclusions about it.   As for us, we enjoyed it.


Jack Hogan “…..I hope that my sons and grandchildren will enjoy watching Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear……”

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.Uncle Remus telling his Brer Rabbit Tales to kids in Song of the South

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SPECIAL TO AVOC

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January 16, 2008

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Song of the South & Memories of my Youth in Bogart, Georgia

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By Jack Hogan (BOHS Class of 54)

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Recently I enjoyed watching a very old movie titled "Song of the South" by Walt Disney.

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The movie is based on the tales of Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris, a Georgia native.  I had tried to find a copy for quite some time, but it was not available in the general video market, probably because the fear of controversy kept the film from being released on home video. It is unfortunate this movie has never "officially" been released in DVD format. What seems to be offered is a LaserDisc transfer to DVD which is of good quality.  In any event, you can find it on the Internet for $ 15.00 to $ 19.00 without any shipping charge.

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This is the second time I remember watching the movie. The first time was in the fifth grade in 1946. Although I don't remember all the details, I do remember our class riding on the school bus to the Palace Theater in Athens, GA to watch the movie.  I remembered the animated parts of the movie and the stories of Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear and Brer Fox, but did not remember the story of Uncle Remus and the young white boy who wanted to run away to Atlanta to be with his father.

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"Song of the South" reminded me of the movie "Gone with the Wind," which also depicted slavery in Georgia during the Civil War days. I remember riding on the Bogart School bus with high school students when I was a third grader in 1944 to watch the movie in Statham, Ga. Obviously I was allowed to go to the movie because Dad was one of the escorts and principal of the Bogart School. One thing that vividly stands out in my mind is the adults talking on the way home about the terrible language in the movie when Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O'Hara....."frankly Scarlett, I don't give a damn."  At that time, off color words on radio were unheard of and certainly not permitted. One "damn" word in that movie raised objections across our nation!  It was just unthinkable that such was allowed in a movie.

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Afterward, cursing slowly found it's way into nearly every show on television and in just about every movie. 

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Many of the movies from the 40s and 50s like "Song of the South" will never be put on a DVD by a major studio, and most will be lost to time and many already have been. Although the DVD may not be as clear as a recent major movie studio DVD, I enjoyed hearing the stories and seeing the actors I experienced sixty years ago. I am gratefaul that some people are preserving this movie in such a way that it is inexpensive to purchase. Although they may not appreciate the movie as I do, I hope that my sons and grandchildren will enjoy watching Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear.

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Song of the South

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_of_the_South

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Song of the South is a feature film produced by Walt Disney, released on November 12, 1946 by RKO Radio Pictures and based on the Uncle Remus cycle of stories by Joel Chandler Harris. It was Walt Disney's first live-action film, though it also contains major segments of animation. The live actors provide a sentimental frame story, in which Uncle Remus relates the folk tales of the adventures of Br'er Rabbit and his friends. These anthropomorphic animal characters appear in animation. The film has never been released on home video in the USA[2] because of content which Disney executives believe would be construed by some as being racially insensitive towards African-Americans and is thus subject to much rumor, although it does exist on home video in the UK. The hit song from the film was "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", which won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Song and is frequently used as part of Disney's montage themes.

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Response

Although the film was a financial success, some critics were less responsive to the film. Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times, "More and more, Walt Disney's craftsmen have been loading their feature films with so-called 'live action' in place of their animated whimsies of the past, and by just those proportions has the magic of these Disney films decreased," citing the ratio of live action to animation at two to one, concluding that is "approximately the ratio of its mediocrity to its charm."[1] However, the film also received positive notice. Time magazine called the film "topnotch Disney."[4] In 2003, the Online Film Critics Society ranked the film as the 67th greatest animated film of all time.[14]

Accusations of racism

Even early in the film's production, there was concern that the material would encounter controversy. As the writing of the screenplay was getting under way, Disney publicist Vern Caldwell wrote to producer Perce Pearce that "The negro situation is a dangerous one. Between the negro haters and the negro lovers there are many chances to run afoul of situations that could run the gamut all the way from the nasty to the controversial."[1]

When the film was first released, the NAACP acknowledged "the remarkable artistic merit" of the film, but decried the supposed "impression it gives of an idyllic master-slave relationship" (even though the film was set after the American Civil War).[4]

In 2007, Movies.com listed the film as the fifth most controversial film of all time.[15]

Academy Award recognition

The score by Daniele Amfitheatrof, Paul J. Smith, and Charles Wolcott was nominated in the "Scoring of a Musical Picture" category, and the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah won the award for Best Song at the 20th Academy Awards on March 20, 1948.[16] A special Academy Award was given "To James Baskett for his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and story teller to the children of the world in Walt Disney's 'Song of the South.'"

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