Cinderella Tales Through the Years


The new Cinderella movie has not opened yet, but Lily James is sure to join the pantheon of cinematic Cindy ingénues that have graced the big and little screen. As a story, the Cinderella romance has been adapted into a variety of tales through the years in just about every genre.

Through the eras, countless young women have played Cinderella. There are the musical Cinderellas (Julie Andrews, Leslie Ann Warren, Brandy and recently Anna Kendrick), the romantic fairy tales set in different time frames (Mary Pickford, Drew Barrymore, Hilary Duff and Selena Gomez), ballets, operas, the classic Disney 1950 cartoon, and even gender-benders like Cinderfella (Jerry Lewis).

Here are particular favorite Cinderella screen renditions worth checking out:

  • Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella was actually a musical written for television. It premiered in 1957 with the new Broadway sensation Andrews, seven years before Mary Poppins. The 1965 remake with Warren aired annually for years. Then, in 1997 Disney staged a new television version with Brandy, Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother and Bernadette Peters as the Stepmother. Versions of all three have been released on video and other formats over the years.  Unlike the cartoon, with the magical transformation to Bippity Boppity Boo, this rendition features Impossible/It’s Possible as the fairy godmother’s theme. There is also In My Own Little Corner, A Lovely Night, and other classics.
  • The Rodgers & Hammerstein musical is actually the one Disney brought to Broadway in 2013. It closed earlier this year in New York City, but a national tour with cast members from Broadway is underway. The production will be in Tempe, Ariz., starting March 10 and move to Los Angeles March 17 for five weeks before moving to other cities.
  • The Disney cartoon version, singing mice and all, is dated but an admitted saccharine treat. It features the classic ballad A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes. It’s a classic Disney princess movie, before they became an annual thing, that set the pattern for animal pals, big eyes and other attributes that carried on through Ariel, Pocahontas and others. At least the princesses in her wake were less passive and accepting of their lots in life.
  • For girl empowerment, which the new Cinderella reportedly displays, the Barrymore film Ever After: A Cinderella Story took the tale to new heights. But the prospects brighten with “Ever After: A Cinderella Story” (1998). The heroine in her dotage chastised the Brothers Grimm for their “inaccurate” story. She then tells her “true” tale about her years as Danielle (Barrymore). She is no 16th century waif, but rather a feisty heroine who matches the Prince for swordsmanship, wit, knowledge, doing the right thing, and more. It seems unbelievable that she knows Leonardo da Vinci, but he did live and die living near the French king during the period. So, at least that part of the Ever After plot is plausible too. But, the movie is enjoyable and the heroine makes it so, without slipping into a diabetic coma.

It remains to be seen if the new Cinderella film will be a classic and how the stage production will be in Los Angeles next week. But, revisiting and reviewing some old favorites has been a treat.

Opinion by Dyanne Weiss

E Online
Boston Globe
Cinderella on Broadway
Rodgers and Hammerstein
Boston Globe

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