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“Song of the South” can be yours – for $1,499

Forget that old PAL video tape or the Japanese laser disc. Someone is offering a 16mm IB Technicolor print of Song of The South on eBay. The bidding starts at $1,499.

We rarely plug specific items being sold on eBay, but the 1946 live action and animation feature is one of the few Disney classics never released on DVD. The seller says it’s an original grey track IB print with colors that will never fade. Technicolor prints in this shape are rare of any film, much less one of the most requested Disney titles of all time.

For more information about this 16mm print, click here. I also recommend joining the Song of the South page on Facebook and checking Song of The South.net for the most comprehensive coverage on the film. Oh, and I’m not bidding on the picture, so let me know if you get it.

UPDATE: Brew commenter Egbert Souse writes in our comments that, “Disney is remastering Song of the South from the original negatives in 4K resolution. It’s not in the immediate pipeline for a Snow White or Bambi level restoration, but they’ll have complete digital files by the end of next year.”

  • Justin Delbert

    I haven’t got the money or the old technology to buy and run this. Bob Igor, wake the fuck up! This movie had nothing to do with slavery as a positive aspect. That’s why Uncle Remus is packing up his stuff to go; you couldn’t do that if you were a slave because you were consisered property. Again, wake up Bob Igor, this IS benificial to the Disney company. This economy sucks. Nothing is selling. Song of the South has been a hot topic for almost 30 years now. You put that out, you’re gonna clean up.

  • Paul M

    There is a japanese version out on dvd, don’t think it’s available to order but it is out there to get, if you want it.

  • It is too bad Disney is balking at releasing this film on dvd and/or Blu-Ray as to not make it available is to give credence to the claim the picture deserves to be kept locked away which it most certainly does not.

  • John Tebbel

    Maybe Disney’s best character animation (and the dead worst live action).

    On my first visit to the studio (1969) I asked the guy “in charge” of animation at the time, Andy Engman, which animation the staff held in the highest esteem. He said Song of the South. Surprised me. I’m pretty sure he’s right.

    Available today on ebay for thirty bucks or something. Don’t know what the quality is. My Japanese laser disc is good except you can’t turn off the Japanese subtitles during the songs.

    • Dead worst? I find that hard to believe. When I was six, watching live-action movies on “The Wonderful World of Color,” even I knew that the kids were utterly lame and unconvincing.

      See, we had the book 365 Bedtime Stories, which has one where a little girl learning to read thought she had to pronounce the punctuation. Quote marks were “rabbit ears,” question marks were “buttonhooks,” exclamation points were “baseball bats,” and so on.

      So my sisters and I were watching something that seems to have been made up as it went along about two wretched little waifs wandering at random, and when one of them uttered his or her line, I put in “…baseball bat, rabbit ears.” My first meta snark.

      The acting in SoTS may be wooden, but this one (and some others I’ve seen)? Balsa at best, more likely cardboard.

      • David Breneman

        Sounds like a ripoff of Victor Borge’s “Phonetic Pronunciation.” :-)

  • uncle wayne

    i do not know, to my dying day, why this (beautiful) film is so tabu. And, besides, i thought we were living in America, where one would have the CHOICE of buying and not buying something. What country, and decade, are we IN, for Pete’s sake??

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Sad really. I can recall wanting to see this movie badly when it saw a reissue in ’86 but my mom thought it was going to come out on tape anyway so I waited (and waited). Already have the Japanese LD and a few other recordings of dubious quality.

      • John Tebbel

        Then you’ve got it. Only thing wrong with the Japanese LD is the captions.

    • Jason H

      It’s an important film that brings a lot of issues that still exist to the table that people would find uncomfortable nowadays. It’s sad that Disney too afraid to release as it’s one of their best animated films of all time.

    • Doug

      For cryin’ out loud – if Broadway can continually stage revivals of Porgy & Bess, an opera that I have heard that the African-American community has serious problems with, why can’t we see Song of the South, a film that I’ve heard described as pretty light on the controversy.

      I’m in favor of seeing a film, cartoon, advertisement, book, you-name-it in its original form, warts and all and let me be the judge of it. Let me whince, laugh and form my own opinion.

  • What I really want to know is…

    is this the very special version of Song of the South Walt Disney only played at parties?

    • Jeff

      I don’t think that’s ever coming out of the Disney Vault.

  • Blake

    I’ve got a bootleg of this movie with extra features , such a great and underappreciated flick. The animation is fantastic. If you can find a way to watch it , I highly recommend it.

  • Egbert Souse

    Disney is remastering Song of the South from the original negatives in 4K resolution. It’s not in the immediate pipeline for a Snow White or Bambi level restoration, but they’ll have complete digital files by the end of next year.

    • uncle wayne

      Sweet GOD!! Izzat for real??

    • Yum!

      It’ll hold up for the format that takes over after Bluray too! :)

    • I assume that they’re capturing it at a much higher resolution than 4K. Those would be some pretty sweet JPEGs to lay your hands on.

    • matt

      wow that is absolutely fantastic news. I’ve never been to this site before but I’m 25 year old who became fascinated with Song of the South after my grandmother sent me on a quest to find the movie she hadn’t seen since she was “a little girl”. At one time I, too, had a transfer of the BBC broadcast and hope that it finally is released. Where did you hear this?

  • amid

    I’d always wondered whether the artists at Disney were aware of how bad their early live-action efforts were compared to the rest of Hollywood. They definitely were. While researching my Ward Kimball bio, I ran across a notation in his diary where he wrote that SOTS’s live-action was “corny.” The day after the studio screening, he recorded that, “Most people thought cartoon section in Song of South was excellent but the live action disappointing.” So there you go.

  • dbenson

    Having seen the film on a bootleg, I think the main issue is that while it’s technically after the war, the only practical difference is that Remus is thrown out instead of sold. Otherwise it’s the happy plantation, where everybody rejoices in living to serve the good massas in the big house. Outside of Remus and one black child, the focus is tightly on the white folk. And even those two exceptions seem to have no purpose in life other than comforting the unhappy white boy.

    It’s like “Hogan’s Heroes”, now cringeworthy in positing a WWII prison camp as a happy and playful environment. Or those old soaps that held there was no happiness for women outside of a suburban kitchen full of kids. However cheery and seemingly positive, the subtext is now unpleasant.

    That said, if America survived all of the above and more (Shirley Temple’s old south features being the closest equivalent), it can survive “Song of the South.” Maybe they could bundle it with “NightJohn”, a surprisingly strong Disney family film about a young slave girl who learns the power — and danger — of literacy.

    • Jeff

      I haven’t seen SOTS in a while, but I seem to remember all of the white people in the movie being jerks.

  • “Like” this comment if you have a “Song of the South” bootleg. (I have two different ones.) Every “like” will equal $$ that Disney didn’t get.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Best I got was a DVD-R copy of a BBC broadcast from the early 2000’s. But yeah, they end up going for any price out there despite being illegit.

  • mat

    If disney put this out on dvd it would sell lots of dvds! I really don’t get why this isn’t out yet. Far worse films are out and no one cares.

  • Odd – I’ve seen SOTS a number of times in theatrical release in the past 20 years. Overall, it’s “okay”, not a great film. Certainly not a forbidden “treasure”.

  • Sarah

    The reason why it’s not out on dvd (I would love to own a copy of this btw) is because all of the stupid PC people out there who tell the media (I call it witchcraft) that certain things are bad (did you know there are parents that will not show their kids Tom and Jerry or Looney Toons because it’s “too violent”?)

    I’ve seen a small portion of SOTS on “One Hour in Wonderland” featured on the Alice in Wonderland dvd and as I was watching it, I was thinking “How is this racist?”

    To quote Stewie from Family Guy “I’d say are you blind or just stupid?”

    I mean there are things kids could watch that are a thousand times worse than SOTS (I’ve heard of five year olds watching South Park).

    • Eric Graf

      Close. The reason it’s not out on DVD is because such a release would be a lightning rod for every attention-hungry demagogue in the USA (regardless of which side of the issue they come down on).

      The actual content of the movie doesn’t matter. What matters is becoming the center of several cable news cycles … “DISNEY RE-RELEASES ALLEGEDLY RACIST MOVIE!” Just imagine the panel discussions. Just imagine the panels themselves!

      “MGM re-releases allegedly racist movie” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

      I desperately want a high-quality copy of SOTS. But I can’t blame Disney for deciding that it’s just not worth the hassle.

      BTW … regarding the Japanese laserdisc: There’s more wrong with it than just the subtitles on the songs. It’s a very old analog transfer from a marginal-quality print.

      • John Tebbel

        Quite agree with your analysis. Will be screening my laserdisc with a newly jaundiced eye. I last watched it before much progress had been made in home video. My memory is wonderful at restoring prints in my brain.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Well that LD did came out in the late 80’s so you can forgive it for not being the best quality we have by today’s standards.

      • John Tebbel

        Just watched enough of the laserdisc to agree that the print sucks. It is no worse, however, than the first vhs release of Snow White. And it’s no barrier to appreciating the fabulous animation.

  • I’ve watched Song of the South several times at the Walt Disney Studio.

    The one place (oddly enough) where a pristine 35mm print of the film is still available.

  • Paul N

    SOTS is a far less offensive representation of that era in American history than “Gone With The Wind” is, yet GWTW is continually reissued on home media an SOTS isn’t. Go figure.

  • Regardless of the film’s other characteristics, the theme song by Frank Zappa is a classic.

  • Tom D

    The sections of this film available on the Alice 2 disc DVD show it to be half incredible (the Grant Wood inspired backgrounds are jaw droppingly beautiful) and half mediocre to terrible (you guessed it- the live action). While it’s no hidden treasure or all time great, it’s a classic in that it hosts some top notch animation by the best in the business at the top of their game. I’d pay to have that in my collection, no kidding!

  • Matthew K Sharp

    It seems that Disney is only squeamish about the film being seen in the USA – the Disney Channel ran SOTS a couple of times in Australia in the early 2000s, just before the whole channel turned to absolute rubbish.

    Having watched SOTS a few times now, I must concur with popular opinion. The animation and combination sequences are breath-takingly brilliant, but the live-action is bloody awful. “Corny” is the exact word for it.

  • I’ve never understood Disney’s hangup about this movie. On one hand, they don’t want to release it because it’s controversial. On the other, they still merchandise the characters in their theme parks.

    I’ve seen it, and it’s worth a restoration and release even based on its animation and technical aspects alone.

    The live action is pretty bland, but the live action/animation hybrid scenes are better than anything being made today in the same vein, and the fully-animated segments are great.

    There’s really nothing “racist” about Song of the South. It’s based on the writings of journalist Joel Chandler Harris, who spent time with slaves and former slaves throughout his life. He wrote down the stories they told him and saw enough value in them to publish them as a series of tales told by a fictional character named Uncle Remus. He wrote them as he heard them, in the dialect in which they were told.

    (see:) http://www.uncleremus.com/

    The Disney movie sort of glosses over the dark aspects of slavery and the atrocious way black people were treated in both the period it depicts (late 1860’s)and the period it was made (1946). But what more can you expect? it’s a MOVIE, and it’s based on STORIES. The overall message of the movie is still a very positive one and reflects the source material fairly well. If the virtues of facing ones problems and oppressors without fear, being crafty, being smarter than your enemies and thinking positively in the face of bad situations are somehow taboo, then none of us have learned anything at all.

  • Fleischer Fan

    I don’t really own a bootleg. I purchased a copy of the film on VHS in Britain where it had an authorized release. Had a friend convert it from PAL to NTSC. Have since burned it to DVD myself.

    I agree with Paul N that “Gone With the Wind” is far more racist yet has been released in a multitude of home video editions. But I also agree that there are plenty of people hungry for face time on TV who would mount campaigns against SOTS just to get in front of a camera.

    For its time, the film was trying to make a plea for racial tolerance. The white people are not shown in any idealized way. In fact, they seem shallow and their bigotry is a subtext. Johnny’s mother is obviously uncomfortable with the time Johnny spends with Uncle Remus and the black kids.

    That we have now moved beyond the social attitudes and mores of this film is undeniable, but I always have trouble with people who feel smugly superior because the accident of their birth placed them in a more enlightened time.

    Uncle Remus, while having a subservient attitude, is also shown to be clearly the wisest and best person in the film.

    Not only that but his tales of Br’er Rabbit are an authentic part of black folk history. Harris didn’t create the tales. He simply set down the oral traditions he had heard growing up.

    Finally, I have always been amazed that Disney created one of their major theme park attractions around a film that most park-goers have never seen and hence, would have trouble understanding the ride’s narrative. (I know my kids did until they finally saw the film.)

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    I made VHS copies from someone who had a VHS copy about 15 years ago; one was the entire movie; one had the live action edited out. The latter was for two puproses: so I could watch just the animation and for my kids. Not because of any racial issues but because I knew they’d be bored and fast forwarding alot.

    I did see it in ’86 theatrically too.

    I teasure my 1970s printing of the big golden book that came out at this time. It had a foreword by Walt Disney, more uncle Remus stories than were in the film and a cover by Mary Blair.

    I don’t know if I could stand the media lunacy that would happen if this were released, most likely by meat puppet commentators and helicopter parents who will never see the film.

  • Glamourboy

    Didn’t Disney just remake this movie recently, calling it, “The Help”?

    • iseewhatyoudidthere

      Superficial comparison, much?

  • chris

    I think I saw some guy selling it at the swap meet for 16 bucks

  • merlin jones

    Here’s a link to a lengthy recent article from Home Theater Forum (9/19/11) with more info on the digital scanning program for Disney’s negatives:


    >>”…This project has been used to get 4K scans and new prints to preserve live action classics like Song of the South (no plans to release) and just this year Parent Trap, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Old Yeller, The Absent-Minded Professor and Pollyanna (I encouraged them to start releasing these live action classics to Blu-ray). They plan to tackle Darby O’Gill and the Little People and Mary Poppins (expect to see something out around the 50th Anniversary). While all the nitrate films (pre-1955) are getting 4K scans and new safety negatives, not everything is getting a pristine restoration at this time, like the animated films released on Blu-ray have. For most films these are simply preservation steps. It’s important to note that all of the new safety negatives they are shooting are NOT touched up. It’s simply a capture of the original film negative. They don’t want to “bake in” any cleanup, but rather preserve a copy of the original negative “as-is”. These films have just been re-preserved and won’t undergo any further “re-mastering” and digital cleanup until they are slated for release….”<<

    Much more article at above link and additional info in comments section.

  • merlin jones

    FYI — Looks like the winning bid was $2,750.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Good luck to whoever bought it!