I was perusing my YouTube feeds the other day when I stumbled upon this gem of an animated ad, made for Chevrolet by the legendary Jam Handy company in 1936.
The plot is pretty simple: Cinderella’s two ugly step sisters make off with the coach, leaving Cinderella with no way to get to the ball. It is up to a coterie of forest creatures (elves? gnomes? They are never named in the film) to craft a coach for Cinderella using only materials of the forest. In doing so, they give the viewer an insight into the functioning of a “modern” automobile.
Some of the things illustrated include an engine made with fireflies as the spark plugs, tires made from caterpillars, vent windows, and shock absorbers.
While it is easy to think of Cinderella as being a modern creation by the Walt Disney Company, the Cinderella fairy tale has actually been around for centuries, and the animated Disney Cinderella movie wouldn’t come out until 1950.
The animation on this film is exquisite – only tad below what Walt Disney was creating at the time in terms of sophistication and quality. Pay particular attention to the scene where the birds tie the bow around Cinderella’s dress: Walt Disney supposedly poached this scene for his 1950 Cinderella feature. The cost of producing this film had to be astronomical, between the painstaking animation and three-strip Technicolor process.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this movie (other than the fact that it got made at all) is how soft the selling is. An actual Chevrolet (a 1937 sedan) does not appear until the closing seconds of the film, seen above. Otherwise, it could be an ad for just about any automaker.
Chevrolet apparently agreed with me, and when they commissioned a followup film in 1937 (A Ride for Cinderella), a Chevrolet car featured much more prominently throughout.