A look back at Snow White


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Snow White has been mesmerizing moviegoers and TV watchers with a smile and a song -- and, now, a sword -- since 1937 when Disney released its first full-length animated feature.

Television has gotten into the act and two months ago, "Mirror Mirror" arrived in theaters. Today, "Snow White and the Huntsman" breathes new life into the fairy tale that dates to 1812.

A look at the raven-haired beauty, a woman who gave stepmothers everywhere an undeserved black eye, and a story that has endured in various formats, including as a silent film, a Three Stooges comedy, a 1987-88 sitcom, "The Charmings," and Showtime's 1997 "Snow White: A Tale of Terror" featuring Sigourney Weaver.

'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'

Summary: (1937) -- Gorgeously, painstakingly created over three years, the first full-length, cel-animated feature film elevated Disney to a major player on movie screens and introduced such song standards as "Whistle While You Work" and "Some Day My Prince Will Come."

Snow White -- Adriana Caselotti (the then 18-year-old from an operatic family had uncredited vocal roles in "The Wizard of Oz" and "It's a Wonderful Life").

Evil Queen -- Lucille La Verne (the final movie role for the longtime stage and screen actress, who died in 1945 at age 72).

Prince -- Harry Stockwell (father of actors Dean Stockwell and Guy Stockwell).

Huntsman -- Stuart Buchanan (a casting director for Disney, he did occasional voice work for the studio).

Mirror -- Moroni Olsen (an actor with a regal appearance and imposing baritone made appearances in more than 100 films from the 1920s through the 1950s).

Frights -- The Queen orders the Huntsman to kill Snow White and bring back her heart in a box. She escapes into a dark, scary forest where her imagination causes her to see giant eyes watching her. The Queen, disguised as a hag, gets Snow White to take a bite of a poison apple that results in a death-like sleep.

Audience reaction -- Banned in some countries where it was thought to be too scary for children under 16, authorities eventually relented due to public outcry. It ran for an unprecedented five weeks at Radio City Music Hall and 31 weeks in Paris theaters, breaking worldwide attendance records for that time. (Source: "The Disney Films" by Leonard Maltin)

'Once Upon a Time'

Summary: (ABC-TV) -- A spell by the Evil Queen sends inhabitants of the fairy-tale world to a real-world small town, where they are trapped in hum-drum lives. Only Emma (Jennifer Morrison), the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, can break the spell, but obstacles include the wrathful Queen, now the town's mayor, the dark magic of Rumpelstiltskin, the town's wealthiest citizen, and getting past the fact that in this time line, she's the same age as her mother and father.

Snow White/Mary Margaret -- Ginnifer Goodwin (best known for "Big Love").

Evil Queen/Regina -- Lana Parrilla (Sarah Gavin on "24" and Greta in the "Through the Looking Glass" episode of "Lost").

Charming/David -- Josh Dallas (will play charmer Fandral, a member of the Warriors Three and friend to Chris Hemsworth's Thor, in "Thor 2").

Huntsman/Sheriff -- Jamie Dornan (a Calvin Klein model and rugby player in his native Ireland).

Mirror/Sidney Glass -- Giancarlo Esposito (the former Gustavo "Gus" Fring on "Breaking Bad" and set to star in new J.J. Abrams series "Revolution").

Frights -- Violent deaths and children in jeopardy are the worse of an often dark story. For example, the Queen rips the heart out of her loyal father's chest to gain revenge.

Audience reaction -- Best-rated new drama of the season while competing against the World Series and "Sunday Night Football." The 8 p.m. Sunday show posted a 3.9 rating/10 share in the coveted 18-49 demographic, with 12.8 million total viewers.

'Mirror Mirror'

Summary: (March 30, 2012) -- The villain was vivid and the heroine dull, but no longer a helpless damsel in distress. Pittsburgh native Bernie Goldmann served as a producer of this retelling of the fairy tale and Jeff Waxman, in town working on "Out of the Furnace," an executive producer.

Snow White -- Lily Collins, who co-starred with Taylor Lautner in the made-in-Pittsburgh "Abduction." Although physically well matched for the role, she was bland, overplaying the sweetness and underplaying the character's metamorphosis.

Evil Queen -- Julia Roberts, having a grand time delivering deliciously diabolical lines in a series of showstopping costumes.

Prince -- Armie Hammer, 6 feet 5 inches tall, sometimes shirtless and known for portraying the Winklevoss twins in "Social Network." Also was Clyde Tolson in "J. Edgar."

Huntsman -- Instead of a muscle-bound man with an ax, the executioner is a bungling servant (Nathan Lane). He's ordered to kill Snow White but blows it.

Mirror -- The Queen walks through a mirror into the water, emerges completely dry and goes into a sort of hut to talk to a version of herself in a mirror.

Frights -- The PG rating kept scares in check but some children gasped when the Queen said of her stepdaughter, "I want her killed. She is a threat to everything."

Audience reaction -- Opened at No. 3 behind "The Hunger Games" and "Wrath of the Titans." Has made $160 million worldwide to date and should do well when released on DVD and Blu-ray June 26.

'Snow White and the Huntsman'

Summary: (in theaters today) -- A beautiful woman bewitches a widowed king and before you can say prenup, she's married him, stabbed him to death and stolen his crown and kingdom. Oh, and locked his daughter in the tower.

Snow White -- A decade ago, Kristen Stewart was Jodie Foster's daughter in "Panic Room." Now, she's known the world over as the newlywed and newly dead Bella Swan Cullen in the "Twilight" series, with the final installment due in November.

Evil Queen -- Charlize Theron is no stranger to playing a damsel of death, having won an Oscar for starring as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster." Here, Queen Ravenna's heart is black but her appearance is perpetually youthful, as long as she sucks the life out of beautiful maidens.

Prince -- Sam Claflin is William, technically a duke and a childhood friend of Snow White who is given a chance to redeem himself, after being unable to save her years earlier.

Huntsman -- Chris Hemsworth, Thor in "Thor" and "The Avengers," trades his mighty hammer for an ax and his blond locks for brown hair to play the Huntsman, a widower who drowns his sorrows in drink.

Mirror -- Christopher Obi speaks for the Mirror Man, who appears as a hooded golden figure, not quite liquid, not quite solid, who seems to roll off the mirror. Inspired by a pair of sculptures called "Face-Off" by artist Kevin Francis Gray, the Mirror Man may be visible only to Ravenna.

Frights -- The Queen's big regret about Snow White: "I should have killed her when she was a child." She's beautiful on the outside, ugly and rotted on the inside. The usual scares are supplemented with new ones, as someone is impaled on a spiky tree stump, women are treated like a youth serum to be drained and discarded, and fights come in big battles and hand-to-hand combat.

Audience reaction -- We'll know soon.

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Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Sharon Eberson: seberson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1960.


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