Disney knew that the foreign markets were exceedingly lucrative for American films–such as his. And he was determined that the audiences that did not speak English were not going to get short shrift. No cheesy subtitles for people to read while they were watching Mickey, Donald et al.
Disney was also a pioneer in sing the newly-developed RCA Victor High Fidelity sound system–and getting all he could out of it!
Among the early achievements were those in the mixing of sound. Disney may have been among the first–if not the first–to separate the underscore of a cartoon, using what are now called “stems” from the dialogue. This may explain why foreign-language versions of Disney cartoons sound so natural, if the choice of voices works out. Compare that to the after-the-fact dubbing of the AAP package of Warner Bros.”Merrie Melodies” cartoons, which sounds as haphazard as it was.
So, when “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” went out to conquer the rest of the world, the Disney crew had their boots laced and were ready to go! And, where the film went–so did the song score.
In France, for example, “Blanc-Neige e les Sept Nains” was a big a hit as it was anywhere else.
And the songs were also represented on French records.
Elyane Celis, an operetta soprano, had a tremendous hit with “Un Jour Mon Prince Viendra” (Some Day My Prince Will Come). The record, cut for the French branch of HMV, won a major prize, given out annually by the French magazine “Candide” for the best records in various categories,including in popular music. These awards were much sought-after, and highly prized.
France’s top stage band, Ray Ventura et ses Collegiens, also got their mains around two of the songs form the “Snow White” score. The result was one of their most collectible records. The coupling of ‘Sifflez et Travaillant” (“Whistle While You Work”) and “Un Sourire En Chantant” (“With A Smile And A Song”), is notable for a guest who gets to “sit in” with the band–for virtually the only time in his career.
That guest is the Belgian Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. Django is head, playing some of his runs, behind he vocal refrain by Andre Dassary on “Sifflez. . . “. He may not be present on “Un Sourire. . .”–I can’t say for sure that i hear him on that side. We may never know how Django came to sit in with the band of Ventura, which was thought to hold a place similar to that of Jack Hylton in the UK, or of Paul Whieman in the USA.
In Sweden, one Tatjana Angelini recorded two songs from the “Snow White” score for Odeon. The texts were in Swedish. Interestingly, Miss Angelini would have another Disney connection when, about a dozen yeas later, she recorded a Swedish text to “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” (from “Cinderella”) for HMV in Stockholm.
There was,however, one major European nation that did not immediately fall under the spell cast by “Snow White”.
It wasn’t the one you’d expect. It was Spain. And thereby hangs a couple of tales.
Next Week: “Blanca Nieves”.