402. Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree – Wolfgang Reitherman

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SUMMARY: While visiting his friend Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh gets himself stuck in his doorway.

WHY IT’S HERE: The first of Disney’s massively successful Winnie the Pooh shorts, ‘Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree’ is an extraordinarily charming adaptation of A.A. Milne’s work which unsurprisingly spawned a series of shorts which were later consolidated into the 1977 feature ‘The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’. Focusing on the first two chapters of Milne’s book ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’, ‘Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree’ tells the gentle tale of a bear of very little brain who, in his quest for honey, ends up getting himself stuck in his friend Rabbit’s doorway. There are many great touches here, particularly casting Sebastian Cabot as narrator and having the characters actually walk around in a giant storybook, hopping across the book’s spine and interacting with the written text. Most of the well-loved characters are in place, including Christopher Robin (whose childhood wonderland is so exquisitely captured), Eeyore, Owl, Kanga and Roo, although the unusual decision to replace Piglet with a gopher caused much public outcry and was reversed in the following short ‘Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day’. Although it was great to have Piglet in place, the gopher is a great character too. An independent tradesman, he repeatedly tells his clients “I’m not in the book, you know”, one of the cleverest jokes in the whole film.

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