We recently spotted a lovely piece of Disney ephemera in the form of a video that reveals how cartoons were made at the Mouse House back in 1939. The focus of the short is on Disney's groundbreaking 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and takes viewers on a tour of the studios where the announcer tells us writers and sketch artists worked around the clock to bring Disney's movie to life.
The statistics that helped form the story, about a runaway princess who befriends a group of dwarves in a woodland cottage in order to escape her wicked stepmother, are astounding when compared to today's animated features. The film cost $1.5 million to make, using over three million paintings, 250,000 hand-painted celluloids, more than 1,500 shades of color (mixed by "expert chemists"), with the help of Technicolor — captured one frame at a time, repeated more than 1.5 million times — and over 700 artists.
The footage is clearly a product of its time since the narrator discusses Disney's use of "hundreds of pretty girls" who inked celluloids. Disney also orchestrated a promo stunt called "dwarf land," using real "dwarfs" to promote Snow White. The red carpet footage we see puts modern Hollywood premieres to shame. Just watching glamorous stars like Marlene Dietrich entering the theater makes today's actors seem terribly boring.
Disney ends the clip by describing the personalities of each dwarf and reveals that Grumpy is "the woman hater" of the bunch. We could have told you that, Walt.